Labor heads to Qld coal country to woo back voters


Labor will ramp up its fight to regain support in regional Queensland today as climate change spokesman Chris Bowen ventures into coal country to woo back voters who abandoned the party in 2019.

Mr Bowen's visit is understood to be the first by a senior frontbencher to a Queensland coal mine since the 2019 election when Labor's ambiguous position on coal splintered its vote in the state.

His trip through Emerald and Rockhampton will also include visits to a coal-fired power station and a solar farm.

Speaking exclusively to The Courier-Mail, Mr Bowen said he had the full backing of Labor Leader Anthony Albanese, who "absolutely" knew of the trip and was "very supportive of me doing it".

Labor climate change spokesman Chris Bowen. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
Labor climate change spokesman Chris Bowen. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Mr Bowen, who took over the climate change and energy portfolios last month, said he had an "optimistic" message for coal workers about their futures but would be "honest" about the world's shift to renewable energy.

"My message is that we will be exporting coal for years to come, that Queensland's coal fired power stations are the youngest in Australia but the fact of the matter is the world is moving to net zero emissions by 2050," he said.

"The majority of our coal is exported, 70 per cent of it is exported to countries which are committed to net zero emissions so it's highly unlikely we'll see (coal workers') kids working in the same sorts of jobs as (their parents) are.

"But the good news is that the skill set that goes with solar, goes with renewables is very similar to the traditional skill set of traditional energy generation."

Mr Bowen's two day trip will include visits to the Gregory Crinum coal mine, Callide coal-fired power station and Emerald Solar Park.

Callide Power Station.
Callide Power Station.

He said even though Australia's energy mix would "inevitably change", future energy production would still require areas with space and access to ports, pipelines and railways.

"That's exactly the same areas that have been powering Australia's future all along," he said.

He said he was prepared to have "difficult conversations" in places like Melbourne where many people wanted to go "further and faster" reducing emissions in order to protect regional jobs.

"We've got to have a very good strong robust climate change policy but we are going to bring regional communities right across the country, including Queensland, with us as we do so," he said.

"That means having their futures front and centre of our policies."

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese was expected to tour a Queensland coal mine in December 2019 however the visit was cancelled after his minders could not find time in his schedule.

Four Labor backbenchers including Oxley MP Milton Dick went on a three-day tour of Queensland coal mines sponsored by the Minerals Council of Australia in October 2019.








Originally published as Labor heads to Qld coal country to woo back voters