‘Disastrous’ comment that cost Labor
Bob Katter has slammed Tanya Plibersek over Labor's spectacular election loss in Queensland, blaming her and others who spoke out against the Adani coalmine for the unexpected result.
The Maverick MP said the deputy opposition leader made a serious error in hitting out at the coal industry.
"Tanya Plibersek ran amok … she was out there denigrating the coal industry and saying it will phase out," he told Sky News. "To say that on the eve of the election, in which there are six marginal seats in North Queensland in the coal belt, was absolutely disastrous.
"The ALP was certain on the polling to take all six seats. Now she and a bunch of loudmouthed extremists that have immense power in the Labor movement have seized control of the Labor movement to very much the detriment of the Labor Party."
He said that, as a result, the Labor Party "blew all six seats to smithereens".
The seats Mr Katter refers to are Peter Dutton's northern Brisbane seat of Dickson, George Christensen's marginal seat of Dawson, the Townsville-based seat of Herbert, as well as Flynn, Capricornia and Leichhardt.
The Labor Party was dealt a crushing blow in Queensland, with its vote falling to just 27.4 per cent, with division on Adani said to have played a key role.
Ms Plibersek has consistently opposed the construction of the Adani coal mine in the state, expressing environmental concerns and scepticism over the number of jobs it would bring to the region.
Last month, she told the ABC that Australians "can't rely on an Indian mining company to bring jobs to central and north Queensland".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison slammed her over the remarks, comparing her to former NSW Labor leader Michael Daley.
Mr Daley infamously accused Asians of taking Australian jobs during the NSW state election in March, before he went on to lose the vote.
Mr Morrison noted it took Bill Shorten to condemn Mr Daley's remarks, and only when he lost the election.
"Now we've got Tanya Plibersek, the would-be deputy prime minister of the country, saying that Indians can't create jobs," he told reporters in Sydney.
Opposition frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon said the Opposition had equivocated over the Adani coal mine in Queensland. "Chifley's 'light on the hill' became a flickering light on Adani for the Labor Party."
The federal opposition has consistently argued the Carmichael mine must stand on its own feet and pass strict environmental laws.
"We needed to make it clear that if it was able to do so, that of course Labor would welcome the investment and jobs," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
The Hunter MP, who suffered a big swing against him towards One Nation's pro-coal candidate, also said the party had drifted too far to the left.
"We certainly have to get back to the centre and we have to reconnect to our working class base."
Liberal senator Eric Abetz said the impact of the debate around Adani went beyond Queensland, into his own state of Tasmania.
"Adani was seen … as an indication that the Labor Party was deserting its grassroots and the workers in favour of the suburban city elite," he told the ABC.
Nationals senator Matt Canavan said Adani was "no doubt" the biggest issue in the regions, blaming the state Labor government for failing to hasten approvals.
"They've been sitting on this for eight years," the Queensland senator told AAP. "It's a high-vis revolution. For too long, despite the fact miners wear the brightest shirts of anyone, they've been invisible to the Australian Labor Party."
Federal Science Minister Karen Andrews said the eight-year delay in getting the mine up and running in the Galilee Basin was a key part of Labor's loss.
"In Queensland jobs are so important, particularly in central and northern Queensland, so that actually delivered the big swings," she told ABC radio on Monday.
"The state government needs to have a serious rethink about what they had on their agenda for the future because what happened on Saturday was quiet Australians used their voices and they spoke very loudly and very clearly about what's important to them," she said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk played down the role her government's policies played in the shock result, saying there were "swings against Labor across the nation".
But she did say Labor would have to rebrand its message if it hoped to win back the public's support.
"Of course, everybody in the Labor movement is disappointed with the result, I know I am," she told reporters in Brisbane yesterday.
"I think there has been a clear message that has been delivered to Labor and that is we have to focus more on what's important to Australians and Queenslanders. There is number one issue people care about are jobs.
"Labor had a very complex message and it needed to be a simple message."
Ms Plibersek is one of the frontrunners for the Labor leadership, having been endorsed by both the outgoing Mr Shorten and former Labor leader Julia Gillard.
Yesterday morning, Ms Plibersek told ABC Insiders she was "considering" running for the job.
"My determination is to ensure that we're in the best place to win in three years' time, that we continue the discipline and the unity that we've shown in the last six years, and that we continue to offer Australians real options," she said.
Anthony Albanese has announced his intention to run, and Chris Bowen is also reportedly considering it.
- with Daniel McCulloch (AAP)