Bill Shorten commented on the Turnbull Government proposition to provide a $1 billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) on 6 December:
If the Adani coal mine stacks up commercially, then we welcome the jobs that will be provided in Queensland. In terms of accessing taxpayer money through the NAIF, we haven't seen the case made out for that. The deal should stand up under its own commercial merits.
Labor would be very concerned if the Federal Government was considering spending a fifth of the fund on one project. That would take money away from other vital job generating projects for Northern Australia.
Whether a particular project proceeds is a commercial decision, and mining approvals are generally a matter for state governments but jobs for Central Queensland is always welcome news.
Labor has a strong history of acting to protect the environment. It was Labor who initiated the protection of the Great Barrier Reef during the Whitlam Government. It was the Hawke and Keating Governments that protected the Franklin, the Daintree, Antarctica and extended Kakadu.
The most recent Labor government ended 30 years of conflict over Tasmania’s forests and 120 years of disagreement over the Murray Darling Basin. It also put in place the world’s largest network of marine reserves.
We will continue to act.
Whilst Labor knows that conventional fuels will be an important part of our energy mix in the future we also recognise that the growth in renewable energy, from reducing costs and improving technology, will continue to expand over the coming years.
Labor, however, shares the general concerns over the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.
Labor’s climate policy is far superior to that of the Government’s and, in conjunction with concerted global climate change action, has the best chance of mitigating global warming impacts on the Reef.
Labor accepts the advice of scientists, and is committed to strong action on climate change, not only because it is good for the environment, but because it is good economics.
The Adani project received Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act approval by the Abbott-Turnbull Government in 2015 and the conditions of approval are still being addressed by the company.
One condition in regard to the Commonwealth’s ‘water trigger’ component of the EPBC Act is to develop a Groundwater Management and Monitoring Plan. As we did in Government, Labor will ensure that any proposed mining projects meet the highest environmental standards, so we will be closely monitoring if conditions are being met to those standards.
The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is another example of Malcolm Turnbull's incompetence - it was set up months ago and not a single cent has been spent on better infrastructure for Northern Australia.
Malcolm Turnbull needs to get on with it and start investing in Northern Australia to build infrastructure and create the jobs the region desperately needs.
Labor does not think Australian taxpayers should have to cough up $1 billion for a single project. Most Australians would be scratching their heads wondering why they have to give a mining billionaire $1 billion of taxpayer’s money.
The hypocrisy from the Liberals is extraordinary. The Government has changed its tune – Turnbull and Frydenberg previously opposed any financial assistance.