Politics

Labor's left swing against Adani helps shore up poll lead

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Labor could take Green votes with Bill Shorten's attack on the Adani mining company (Image via @stopadani)

By distancing Labor from Adani, Bill Shorten isn't just making a move for Batman, but for Labor electorates all over the country, writes Max Larkin.

LABOR'S ATTACK ON ADANI has had little-to-no negative impact nationwide, with Labor still handling a lead of 53-47. Though the Coalition is ahead of Labor in the Queensland polls by 4%, we can only wait and see how much North Queensland will reject the ALP's opinion on the mining company.

Labor's Townsville branch assured me Bill Shorten's move was needed, stating in an online interview:

'Regional Queensland has 30,000 people currently out of a job and one project will not fix that.'

I spoke with William Bowe, a political analyst best known for his blog, The Poll Bludger and he said:

"It can’t be doubted that Labor will lose votes in Northern Queensland for the more environmentalist lines that they pursue on this policy.

It appears that Bill Shorten is playing both sides because he has to. 

This was made apparent in my interview with William Bowe: 

"This is a dynamic Labor has faced since Gough Whitlam; he won his election by bringing in a new kind of white-collar voter, not the traditional blue collar, working class factory worker because a number of those voters decreased over time."

Gough Whitlam came up with a more progressive agenda, said Bowe:

"He did things in relation to Aboriginal rights, in relation to the environment, no-fault divorce laws and the family court. The sort of things that aren’t the bread-and-butter issues of the working class people that Labor had originally been about. In doing this, Labor has kept stitched together a coalition of white blue-collar workers, immigrants, ethnic communities, that kind of progressive environmentalist sort of voter who is actually quite affluent and who has very different economic interests compared to Labor's traditional voters."

By offering a strong leftwing agenda, the ALP could secure some of the Green votes they initially may have missed. The critics are missing the point: Bill Shorten isn't just making this move for the highly contended electorate of Batman but for Labor electorates all over the country.

Meanwhile, Labor MPs had been making a stand against Adani even when the mine was party policy.

In May 2017, Tasmanian MP Lisa Singh told Fairfax Media:

"If we are going to be serious about climate change, we should not be starting any new coal mines in this country."

Several other MPs have also voiced their concerns towards the mine.

It is not news to anyone that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, is skeptical on the Adani project. In mid-November, during a protest-dogged campaign, she withdrew Labor's support for a $1 billion loan to Adani.

This left swing made a positive impact on Labor's victory and some sources say the decision even secured it. After this outcome both the Federal and State Labor party counterparts have made their stance on Adani more clear.

As of February 2018, 27% of Australians have opted away from both major parties. It is apparent the nation is becoming increasingly apathetic towards the two-party system currently presiding in Australian politics. Bill Shorten may have realised the need to embrace the outliers to secure a victory in the next Federal Election.

Bill Shorten's assault on Adani might be enough to sway voters away from the Greens and onto the safer side of politics with Labor.

This newfound stance on the Adani coal mine has given hope to many of the more conservative leftwing constituents around Australia, as some voters do not particularly trust the Greens to lead Australia but have become increasingly concerned about the environmental impact both major parties seemed to endorse.

It is impossible to forget that both the Coalition and Labor have accepted huge amounts of donations from mining conglomerates.

In a recent visit to North Queensland, Bill Shorten said:

"There is a role for coal in Australia."

Labor voters would be fools to believe that their party would suddenly embark on any sort of "no new coal" campaign this coming Federal Election.

A Townsville mother, for instance, stated in a social media interview:

'Labor has a lot to answer for in Townsville. Our city needs industry and we need investment.'

Resource Minister Matt Canavan attacked Labor after their position change, saying:

'You would think the Labor party would be on the side of jobs, on the side of workers.'

With this criticism in mind, Labor policy has not left North Queensland to drown in its high unemployment rate. According to Fairfax Media's Labor sources, the ALP was devising a job development plan for Central and North Queensland long before their turnaround on Adani.

Fairfax also quoted an unnamed Queensland Labor MP as saying:

"Jobs in renewable energy, manufacturing, defence maintenance and tourism could be created in place of the foregone mining jobs."

The Carmichael coal mine has won State and Federal approval throughout the development of the project. This process has been costly for the Adani Corporation and they would no doubt seek compensation from the Australian taxpayers.

The Labor Government is working on a way to sever ties with the coal mine without subjecting the Commonwealth to undue sovereign risk.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Environmental Justice Australia Chief Executive Brendan Sydes stated that a legal pathway is available for a future Labor government to kill off the mine, despite having all the approvals.

He elaborated further, stating there are historical examples of incoming federal governments finding legal avenues to implement election commitments to protect environmental values.

Though it seems the country is split on the issue, Labor's newfound stance on Adani may secure more votes from leftwing voters. Labor's continued silence on issues important to Left Australia, such as asylum seekers, housing affordability and closing the gap will invariably leave Labor grappling with the progressive side of politics for years to come.

Max Larkin is a politically engaged young freelance writer from Perth. His Facebook page may be found HERE.

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