Albo signals shift on coal with frontbench
ANTHONY Albanese has signalled a likely change in Labor's approach to mining, appointing the party's strongest coal advocate Joel Fitzgibbon to the resources portfolio.
But in a sign Labor faces ongoing tensions over climate policies, Mr Albanese also promoted Terri Butler, an outspoken opponent of the Adani mine, as shadow environment minister.
Ms Butler, who received a big promotion into shadow cabinet, is one of five Queenslanders promoted to the front bench. Jim Chalmers has been handed the treasury portfolio and Shayne Neumann takes on veterans' affairs and Defence personnel.
Queensland Senator Murray Watt becomes shadow minister for northern Australia, natural disaster and emergency management and Graham Perrett shadow assistant minister for education and training.
Mr Fitzgibbon told The Courier-Mail he would use his new role to ensure "Labor supports mining, gas and petroleum industries."
Declaring global demand for both thermal and coking coal will "remain strong for decades", Mr Fitzgibbon said "we should welcome the investment and jobs" from mines that can pass environmental tests and stand on their own two feet.
"If the Adani mine can pass those two important tests, I would welcome its development and the jobs it will create," he said.
He was backed by Dr Chalmers, who declared "coal is an important part of our industrial base" and said Labor needed to promote regional Queensland's economy.
Mr Neumann, who warned Labor lost support over its stance on Adani, said "I'm happy for more mining generally to take place".
Ms Butler, who previously said she was personally opposed to the Adani mine, said on Twitter that she was "looking forward to holding the Liberal National government to account for their failures in environmental protection and water management".
Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane welcomed Mr Fitzgibbon's promotion, saying "Joel comes from a coal mining region and understands that there is a long term benefit to all of Australia from keeping the resources industry strong."
Mr Albanese will bring his front bench members to Brisbane for their first meeting tomorrow.
As he continues his "listening tour" of areas that shunned Labor, Mr Albanese will head to Launceston today and Mackay on Wednesday.
"It is a challenge for us returning to government, but I think this team is a major step forward in that," he said.