He emphasised that there were “six other projects” in the Galilee basin that could provide coal jobs to workers in North Queensland.
“I’m going to do my best to make sure every one of those six projects get up and running,” Mr Robertson said.
“I don’t buy into the fake coal war of the LNP. That’s a real scare campaign,” he said of suggestions Labor was split over mining.
Labor has expressed scepticism over the Adani project, saying it should not receive public funding and must stack up financially and environmentally.
Mr Shorten used the word “united” nine times to describe his party at his first press conference of the election campaign in Melbourne on Thursday.
Asked if he would pledge to enable Labor MPs to have “a full and frank debate” about the Adani mine, he said “my people are free to speak”.
The CFMMEU pledge states: “I support coal mining jobs and recognise their value to our communities … I support approval of coal mining developments that meet regulatory requirements”.
Mr Robertson said this was “entirely consistent” with Mr Shorten’s stated position on coal, and that he agreed a Labor government would need to “make sure the science is right, make sure it stacks up”.
“Everything needs to go through the same process. If they stand up, they stand up; if they don’t, they don’t,” he said.
The pledge also supports “ending the permanent casual rort in mining” and “fixing broken IR laws”.
Both Mr Shorten and Labor’s environment spokesman Tony Burke have accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of calling the election on Thursday to avoid Senate estimates hearings that would have seen the CSIRO grilled about the government’s approval of Adani’s groundwater plan.
A Shorten government could use a separate water use plan to halt or delay the project, but Labor has refused to make its intentions clear.
A Labor spokesperson said “Queensland is always going to be a great mining exporter. We have said many times that coal is part of our energy mix going forward and will be so into the foreseeable future”.
CFMMEU Queensland mining president Stephen Smyth, who has threatened to withhold the union’s endorsement from any candidates who fail to declare their support for coal, said the remaining candidates would be well advised to sign.
He would not rule out endorsing non-Labor candidates, saying the division would have to consider each candidate and their policies on their merits.
Firebrand MP and CFMMEU member Bob Katter, whose Katter’s Australian Party is running seven candidates in Queensland, declared war on the Labor party on Thursday.
“This election is about who will own Australia and who will build Australia,” he said.
“The ALP with their vegan policies are not going to build – they are going to destroy what’s there.”
Mr Katter’s policy is for Adani’s Carmichael mine to go ahead, but for the Australian government to build and own the railway line to transport coal from the Galilee Basin.
Federal Labor’s only Queensland MP, member for Herbert Cathy O’Toole, refused media interviews on the topic of the Adani mine.
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.