Labor leader Anthony Albanese announces his shadow cabinet. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)
Labor leader Anthony Albanese announces his shadow cabinet. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

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.

The line-up includes a 50-50 split between men and women, with new shadow cabinet members Katy Gallagher in the finance portfolio and Madeleine King in trade.

Mr Fitzgibbon told The Courier-Mail he would use his new role to ensure "Labor supports mining, gas and petroleum industries."

Joel Fitzgibbon and Claire Bennis at the Yancoal Mount Thorley Coal Mine in the Hunter. Photo Jeremy Piper
Joel Fitzgibbon and Claire Bennis at the Yancoal Mount Thorley Coal Mine in the Hunter. Photo Jeremy Piper

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".

Member for Griffith Terri Butler flanked by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Member for Bulimba Di Farmer, Member for Greenslopes Joe Kelly, Councillor Kara Cook and campaign volunteers celebrates her re-election at Morningside. Picture: Brian Bennion
Member for Griffith Terri Butler flanked by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Member for Bulimba Di Farmer, Member for Greenslopes Joe Kelly, Councillor Kara Cook and campaign volunteers celebrates her re-election at Morningside. Picture: Brian Bennion

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."

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers is seen arriving to a press conference in South Bank, Brisbane, Sunday, June 2, 2019. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers is seen arriving to a press conference in South Bank, Brisbane, Sunday, June 2, 2019. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

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.