How Labor plans to dig itself out of a hole

 

Regional Labor MPs are pushing the party to reconnect with workers in "crucial" mining seats, amid hopes the resources portfolio will be taken from Western Sydney frontbencher Ed Husic in a reshuffle.

A week after Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon quit as Labor's resources and agriculture spokesman over concerns the party's climate change focus was alienating workers, leader Anthony Albanese will on Tuesday visit an aluminium smelter in the region.

The smelter is in the Labor-held seat of Paterson, which neighbours Mr Fitzgibbon's electorate - an area The Daily Telegraph revealed was turning on the party due to its climate policy.

Joel Fitzgibbon quit as Labor’s resources and agriculture spokesman last week. Picture: Gary Ramage
Joel Fitzgibbon quit as Labor’s resources and agriculture spokesman last week. Picture: Gary Ramage

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson said she was looking forward to Mr Albanese's "long-planned" visit, but also supported Mr Fitzgibbon as he had "good instincts".

"I think Joel has got a pretty good measure of what's going on … we do want working people to know Labor sticks up for the them," she said.

"Labor's for the worker and I want to reintroduce that."

Meanwhile West Australian Labor MP Madeline King and Senator Louise Pratt on Monday kicked off a tour of several iron ore, gas and hydrogen sites.

Burt MP Matt Keogh says Labor’s WA team are strong supporters of the resources industry. Picture: Mick Tsikas
Burt MP Matt Keogh says Labor’s WA team are strong supporters of the resources industry. Picture: Mick Tsikas

Fellow MP Matt Keogh, who was prevented from travelling due to quarantine requirements, described the WA Labor group as "strong supporters of the resources industry".

"Federal Labor's support of the resources industry around the country will … be helpful in its eventual electoral success," he said.

Following Mr Fitzgibbon's departure, several Labor sources told The Daily Telegraph they anticipated Mr Husic would not keep the resources portfolio long term.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese announced the appointment of Ed Husic to the shadow cabinet after Joel Fitzgibbon quit. Picture: Sean Davey.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese announced the appointment of Ed Husic to the shadow cabinet after Joel Fitzgibbon quit. Picture: Sean Davey.

Mr Husic told The Daily Telegraph he had great "respect" for resources industries as the "bedrock" of Australia's economy for generations.

But he added he would be "very happy" to serve in any portfolio Mr Albanese asked him to.

It is understood Mr Husic had indicated an interest in energy based on his previous experience, but subsequent rumours Mark Butler would be dumped from the role were seen as an attempt to stop the move.

Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will reshuffle his shadow cabinet at the end of the year, with many speculating Madeleine King (right) will take the resources portfolio. Picture Gary Ramage
Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will reshuffle his shadow cabinet at the end of the year, with many speculating Madeleine King (right) will take the resources portfolio. Picture Gary Ramage

Several Labor MPs said Ms King was the best-placed option to take on resources as she represented a mining state and was already in shadow cabinet.

But Ms King wouldn't be drawn on speculation and said in her current trade role she already represented major exporters including coal, iron ore and gas.

"I think any focus on the resources portfolio, and this is what Joel was trying to do too, is making sure that resources portfolio and policy is reconciled with the importance of the energy and climate policy, because they all have to work together," she said.

Blair MP Shayne Neumann says Labor needs Queensland to win the next federal election.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann says Labor needs Queensland to win the next federal election.

Supporting workers was also a key concern in regional Queensland for Blair MP Shayne Neumann, who said while Labor was "strongly committed" to taking action on climate change, it must go "hand in glove" with strengthening jobs.

"Finding that balance is crucial," he said.

"We can't win the next election without winning seats in Queensland".

Mr Fitzgibbon said he was glad his colleagues were spending time in the regions.

"For some it's a well-trodden path and for others more a road to Damascus, but either way it's a good thing," he said.

"We want more MPs and Senators out there shaking hands with, and showing respect and admiration for those who wear the hi-vis."

Originally published as How Labor plans to dig itself out of a hole

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson says she was ‘very sad’ her friend and colleague Joel Fitzgibbon quit the front bench.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson says she was ‘very sad’ her friend and colleague Joel Fitzgibbon quit the front bench.


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