Adani construction poised to begin as Shorten’s colleagues point the finger


Adani mining chief executive Lucas Dow said on Friday that building would begin once approvals were granted.

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“We’re encouraged by the Premier’s announcement today. We now have certainty of timing and process,” he said.

Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan, a vocal Adani backer, said the federal election result in central Queensland “changed the course of our nation for the better this past week”.

“Not many would have given much hope for Adani going ahead a week ago, but together we have achieved that,” he said.

Labor lost two seats in Queensland and suffered a heavy statewide negative swing – a result largely attributed to its wavering position on the Adani project.

In the months leading to the election, Mr Shorten and other senior Labor figures said the mine must stack up environmentally and financially, and should not receive Commonwealth financial assistance. They also said a future government would apply the law to the project, but did not commit to reviewing federal approvals if it won office.

Labor MP Stephen Jones, who holds the NSW coal seat of Whitlam, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that concerns about Labor’s messaging on Adani were “definitely raised within the parliamentary party” well ahead of the election campaign.

Another regional Labor MP said the problem with the party’s Adani stance “started with the top” – a reference to Mr Shorten’s office.

“We started to be all things to all people on it and we didn’t have a convincing position,” the MP said, adding that the potential damage being wrought in central Queensland was communicated “regularly” to Mr Shorten’s office.

“Their language wasn’t credible for Queensland and it didn’t help us in Victoria,” the MP said.

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon this week also revealed he raised concerns about Labor’s position on the coal industry and Adani over several years, to no avail.

Labor frontbencher Shayne Neumann said the mining sector was absolutely crucial in Queensland and “you can’t be seen to be against mining”.

Mr Neumann was pleased that Ms Palaszczuk “had come out of her slumber” and “finally decided” she would expedite the Adani approval process.

Mr Shorten’s office declined to comment.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union national president Tony Maher defended Mr Shorten’s strategy on Adani, insisting Labor’s message was clear.

“To give Bill Shorten credit, his position of ‘new mine approvals should be determined on their merits’ is exactly the union’s position, so I can’t criticise them on that,” he said.

“The problem is lies were told by the Nationals party that Labor were going to close all the mines, which is just bullshit.”

Mr Maher said the protest convoy through central Queensland late in the election campaign, headed by the Greens and Stop Adani group, angered locals and hurt Labor.

“It stirred [local] people into action for no good reason. Nothing good was ever going to come out of it,” he said.

With Eryk Bagshaw

Nicole Hasham is environment and energy correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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