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‘We need a destination’: Mike Cannon-Brookes backs plan for 1.8 million jobs

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The plan also calls for building electrified transport infrastructure, such as electric bus fleets; land restoration; the upgrade of aluminium smelters; and the development of “green steel” produced with hydrogen.

Mr Cannon-Brookes said Australia had the assets and resources, like sun and wind, to lead in renewables and low-energy and pointed to his investment in the Sun Cable project to build the world’s largest solar farm, storage facility and a cable to Singapore.

“We need to prove in Australia, that we can export energy, we’ve exported energy for a long time just in the wrong forms,” he said.

“In a carbon-constrained world Australia should be a winner.”

The tech billionaire called on the government to provide policy certainty through a national zero emissions target, which would reduce risk for investors in the sector.

He said the government’s technology investment roadmap, which was published in May, was an “interesting” option.

“It’s a strategy without a destination, so we need a destination,” he said.

Ms Stewart, who runs the $100 billion First State Super fund, also called for clearer policy from the government to encourage investment.

“At the moment there’s a lot of risk out there without a really clear path and policies,” she said.

Ms Stewart said climate change was one of the greatest risks and opportunities in First State’s investment portfolio.

“We’d much prefer to be leading bravely on this matter than being a laggard,” she said.

Deanne Stewart, CEO of First State Super.

Deanne Stewart, CEO of First State Super. Credit:Daniel Munoz

Ms Stewart added that First State was investigating the areas it wanted to divest from to transition its portfolio while protecting it, given that there were six companies in the ASX 200 that created more than 50 per cent of Australia’s emissions.

Prominent business leader and former Macquarie Group chair Mr McCann said Australia had to look at new technologies to set it up for the 21st century and move away from fossil fuels.

“I think the boards are getting the fact that you can’t go back to back to the past, in order to build a sound economy,” he said.

Backers of the million jobs plan said the coronavirus pandemic had heightened the urgency behind the plan, with job creation needed after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 835,000 job losses since March.

Beyond Zero Emissions chair Eyton Lenko led the One Million Jobs plan.

Beyond Zero Emissions chair Eyton Lenko led the One Million Jobs plan.

Beyond Zero Emissions chair Eytan Lenko, said the plan had been sent to the government and regulatory authorities.

“There needs to be some recognition that private investment and the community wants to go in this direction and there are economic benefits to doing this,” he said.

“These are the real shovel-ready projects. If you are really serious about getting the economy back to work quickly this is the conversation we have to have.”

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