Bill Shorten’s opposition to the Adani coal mine will have a “chilling effect” on jobs and investment in Australia, the prime minister says.
Mr Turnbull said the Labor leader’s “two-faced” position on the $16.5 billion mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin represents “a genuine sovereign risk” and is undermining business confidence.
“What Bill Shorten is doing is not just threatening that project, he’s threatening every other project and he’s threatening future projects,” Mr Turnbull told a business forum in Sydney.
“It will have a shocking, chilling effect on jobs and investment in Australia.”
The Labor leader’s deputy, Tanya Plibersek, countered Mr Turnbull’s comments, saying she doesn’t know how he could possibly come to that conclusion since her party has always said the project had to stack up on its own merits.
“The more we see of this project, the less it seems to stack up economically or environmentally,” Ms Plibersek told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
Mr Shorten this week said that while he doesn’t support the mine, and doesn’t believe it stacks up financially or environmentally, a Labor government wouldn’t tear up Adani’s existing approvals.
His comments come despite the Federal Court of Australia last year dismissing two appeals – by the Australian Conservation Foundation and traditional land owner Adrian Burragubba – to stop the Adani project on environmental grounds.
The government has also accused Labor of saying one thing in the inner Melbourne seat of Batman where it faces a tight by-election against the Greens and something entirely different in Queensland.
Ms Plibersek denied this, saying the party did not make decisions based on how it would play in one seat or another.
“We are a mainstream party of government. And that means dealing with complexity. It means acknowledging the Queenslanders’ strong desire for jobs … and acknowledging that we have environmental responsibilities as a nation as well,” she said.
Queensland’s Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk restated her support for the mine in parliament on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, ALP member and Whitsunday councillor Mike Brunker, who unsuccessfully ran for the party at the last state poll, has savaged Mr Shorten’s “flip-flopping” on the mine which he says could cost the party three Queensland seats.
“What sticks in my guts is that it was to win one seat (Batman),” he told AAP.
“I’d be bitterly disappointed if I was in the seats of Townsville, Dawson and Rockhampton (Capricornia). Win one seat, lose three. Is that good?”
He says Mr Shorten is driving voters into the arms of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and does not seem to grasp how desperately north Queenslanders want Adani’s jobs.
Labor’s candidate in Batman Ged Kearney used a town hall meeting to outline other options the party might pursue if it won government.
The former ACTU leader has told voters if new environmental evidence emerges, a Shorten government could review Adani’s approvals, as allowed under federal environmental laws.