“Don’t send missives off 2000 kilometres away from where this mine is [proposed], telling us all we can’t have jobs, we can’t have economic opportunity”.
Labor appears set to oppose the project, but it is understood there is broad concern among MPs about how to assuage Queensland constituents concerned about high unemployment.
A senior Labor source told Fairfax Media that Labor was “developing a plan for central and North Queensland [to support] their economic future”.
Another Labor source said the plan had been in development for some time.
“I certainly think there is a thirst out there for people to hear alternatives to Adani, and if Labor is at the forefront of proposing them then I think that is solid electoral ground for us,” the source said.
A Queensland Labor MP told Fairfax Media that jobs in renewable energy, manufacturing, defence maintenance and tourism could be created in place of the foregone mining jobs.
Speaking on ABC Radio on Tuesday, deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek emphasised that her party “[does] need to have an answer for the people of northern Queensland and central Queensland about the sort of jobs they’ll be doing and their kids will be doing in the future.”
Labor last month announced that, should it form government, it would establish a local advisory panel to advise on a $1 billion Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
The money would help build new tourism infrastructure in Northern Australia, including Queensland.
Labor is also understood to be considering ways it could halt the Adani project should it win government – and how to address the issues of sovereign risk and a future compensation claim from Adani if approvals were overturned.
The mine has won state and federal environmental approvals. However mechanisms being considered by Labor include section 145 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which allows federal approvals to be revoked.
Environmental Justice Australia has said the government could use that power by arguing new information had arisen about the mine’s impact on climate change and damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
A senior Labor source said various legal avenues were being considered and “people are very cognisant of the compensation and sovereign risk issues.”