A billionaire co-founder of Atlassian has declared coal jobs will disappear within two decades – leaving close to 200,000 people without work.
Mike Cannon-Brookes, who lives in a $100million Point Piper mansion on Sydney Harbour, made the prediction during a Friday forum with federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor.
‘You’re not all going to lose your jobs tomorrow, but we have to start from a position of honesty,’ he said.
‘Coal jobs are going away in the next 20 years.’
The 40-year-old workplace software entrepreneur is a campaigner for renewal energy along with Atlassian’s other co-founder Scott Farquhar, who is also his waterfront neighbour.
The billionaires and Young Rich List achievers last year vowed to run on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.
Mr Cannon-Brookes called on politicians to tell the mining industry it wasn’t viable, even though is coal is still one of Australia’a most lucrative exports.
‘I would say honestly you don’t have a future,’ he said.
‘You don’t have a future. Twenty years from now you will not have a job.’
Australia’s mining industry employs 233,300 people or 1.9 per cent of the national workforce.
The coal sector employs a fifth, or 50,000 of them, Minerals Council of Australia data showed.
Another 120,000 workers are indirectly employed in the coal industry.
Should Mr Cannon-Brooke’s forecasts come true, 170,000 people’s livelihoods would be at stake as future governments and corporations tackled climate change.
Metallurgical and thermal coal exports to China were last year worth $17billion, making this one of Australia’s most lucrative export to Australia’s biggest trading partner after iron ore, education and tourism.
Despite that, Whitehaven Coal’s revenue fell by 30.8 per cent during the last financial year, as its net profit after tax dived by 94 per cent to $30million.
Mr Cannon-Brookes seized on this to say ‘they’re stuffed’.
‘We need to create more jobs in other areas, yes, but we need to transition,’ he said.
Labor’s Opposition resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon, who represents the regional New South Wales coal mining electorate of Hunter, described Mr Cannon-Brookes as a ‘bit of a dreamer’.
‘Mike thinks if you just throw enough money at it, you can make things happen quicker. That is true. He’s a businessman,’ he said.
‘The question becomes “whose money?”.’
Mr Cannon-Brookes certainly has a lot of money with The Australian Financial Review’s Young Rich List estimating his wealth at $13.5billion – making his the richest entrepreneur under 40.
‘I have a good record of getting s**t done alongside the dreaming and I will continue to do that,’ he said in response to Mr Fitzgibbon.
Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie have just bought a Sydney northern beaches mansion previously owned by former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins and her model husband Jake Wall for a record $24.5million.
The four-level waterfront house at Newport surpassed the previous record for a house sale in the area set in February by half a million dollars.
Renewable energy is a politically fraught issue with Labor losing last year’s election after former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten campaigned for a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.
Labor suffered a 14.2 per cent swing, on primary votes, against it in Mr Fitzgibbon’s Hunter electorate, which the ALP has held uninterrupted since 1910.
The ALP also haemorrhaged votes in the north and central Queensland seats of Dawson and Capricornia, after former Greens leader Bob Brown led a convoy to protest against Indian miner Adani’s proposed Carmichael project.