By Claire Bickers
BILL Shorten has suggested Queensland workers are being led on with fake promises about jobs that will never appear while further distancing federal Labor from the Adani coalmine.
The Labor leader and deputy Tanya Plibersek have added fuel this morning to speculation the party will oppose the project after shadow cabinet met last night to discuss the proposal.
Mr Shorten stopped short of formally opposing the project but reissued a call for the Government to investigate claims Adani submitted an “altered laboratory report” when it appealed a fine for the contamination of wetlands near the Great Barrier Reef.
He also outlined a list of other major concerns, including “increasing scepticism” that the mine would ever go ahead, concerns no Australian banks have backed the project, the risk to existing coalminers jobs, and whether all environmental approvals had been “diligently researched”.
“They, time after time, keep saying that they’re going to have this project up and running and they miss a deadline,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Canberra.
“I’m beginning to wonder if the people of North Queensland are being led on with this promise of fake jobs and they’re never going to materialise.”
“What we need from the Government of Australia are plans to help create jobs in regional Queensland which are sustainable and real, not just a project which constantly keeps moving along and deadlines keep getting missed.”
Mr Shorten said the party’s position remained that it would back the mine if the deal “stacks up”, commercially and environmentally.
Meanwhile, Ms Plibersek told ABC radio this morning reports of inflated job numbers and possible falsified environmental tests were “deeply troubling”.
“We do need to have an answer for the people of Northern Queensland and Central Queensland about the sort of jobs they’ll be doing and that their kids will be doing in the future — these are areas with high unemployment,” Ms Plibersek said.
“But the more we see of this proposal, the less it stacks up.
“We have seen inflated jobs figures from the company and frankly from the government as well.
“We continue to have concerns raised about the impact on the Great Barrier Reef, which itself is not just an environmental icon, it is a generator of tens of thousands of jobs.”
Ms Plibersek said the party would not make a snap decision on whether to oppose the mine but confirmed it was carefully considering the proposal.
It’s understood Mr Shorten did not mention any new stance on Adani when briefing Labor MPs in Canberra today in a partyroom meeting.
In December, community legal service group, Environmental Justice Australia, asked the consumer watchdog to investigate whether Adani had misled consumers by spruiking 10,000 jobs that it claims would be created by the mine.
The fresh case comes after a Queensland court found in 2015 the company had inflated its jobs figures.
Labor’s increasing moves towards opposing the coal mine come as the party fights to keep the inner-Melbourne electorate of Batman from the Greens at an upcoming by-election.
The by-election was prompted by former MP David Feeney’s departure over citizenship issues.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan yesterday warned any moves to revoke Adani’s environmental approvals was “highly irresponsible”.
He accused Labor of selling out Queensland workers to win Green votes in Batman.
“To be talking about unwinding a properly made approval at 10 minutes to midnight is highly irresponsible, not just to this project but because of its ramifications on other investments that people want to make in this country,” he said.
Published by the Courier Mail on 6 February 2018