Businesses are concerned about attempts to shift workers into more sustainable work. 

The Australian government's introduction of the Net Zero Transition Authority legislation will broaden the Fair Work Commission's authority, especially concerning negotiations over the closure of coal- and gas-fired power stations. 

Legislation to create the Authority, unveiled in parliament, has reportedly surprised power station owners who believe the move is unnecessary.

They say they are doing enough to collaborate with local governments and unions to manage plant closures effectively.

The government's decision to enhance Fair Work's role in the green energy transition stems from a desire to avoid the negative impact of abrupt job losses, as witnessed following the closure of the Hazelwood Brown Coal Mine in 2017.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's establishment of the Net Zero Transition Authority aims to support workers in high-emission industries through job transitions and skill development as Australia progresses towards a net-zero economy by 2050.

Greg Combet, the architect of the government's new agency, says many power station operators are committed to doing the right thing. 

But he also noted that the legislation outlines minimum expectations for power station closures, offering Fair Work Commission intervention as a safety net if necessary. 

“People facing job loss deserve this minimum level of protection, and our help to find alternative jobs,” Combet stated.

The legislation's potential implications have sparked a debate among industry stakeholders. 

Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox has expressed concerns over the broad powers granted by the proposal, fearing it could lead to disputes and costly union-initiated litigation.

Similarly, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Jessica Tinsley cautioned against imposing additional costs and obligations on small and medium enterprises. 

Energy sector representatives, including Sarah McNamara of the Australian Energy Council, have called the Fair Work Commission's involvement in transitional arrangements unnecessary, pointing to the industry's ongoing efforts to plan for plant closures with workers' and communities' interests at heart.

Unions have championed federal regulation to secure better support for workers affected by industrial transitions, drawing lessons from the Hazelwood power station closure. 

Tony Maher, President of the Mining and Energy Union, has criticised the voluntary nature of employer participation in supporting workers, underscoring the need for regulatory backing to ensure effective worker transition programs.

Prime Minister Albanese has hailed the legislation as pivotal for Australia's economic future, while Fortescue Metals CEO Dino Otranto lauded the government's comprehensive approach to the energy transition.