Jodi McKay backs Fitzgibbon and NSW blue collar workers
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay has declared the party's rebel MP Joel Fitzgibbon "has a point", and thrown full support behind manufacturing and resources towns as she distanced herself from Federal Labor.
Ahead of her budget reply speech on Thursday, Ms McKay told The Daily Telegraph her solitary focus was jobs and she would not leave coalmining communities like the Hunter behind.
"You won't hear Labor walk away from climate change. But people know we support climate change. People need to know we support jobs," she said.
Echoing Mr Fitzgibbon's comments, she said Labor would always advocate on climate but that the party must put jobs first and not be "hijacked by fringe issues".
The NSW Labor Leader will use her speech to declare she personally understands the pride manufacturing and resources communities feel in their jobs as she pledges that local jobs will be mandated in manufacturing projects.
The remarks come as Federal Labor remains deeply divided over climate policy, with NSW stalwart Mr Fitzgibbon quitting the federal frontbench out of his belief the party did not do enough for blue collar workers.
Ms McKay said there were "a couple of things (NSW) had done differently to Federal Labor", saying an understanding of pride in those local jobs was "missing in the way they're approaching it".
"I've always been really supportive of manufacturing and understanding the importance of coal," Ms McKay said in an interview.
"Not just in the Upper Hunter but through the port of Newcastle. It's the largest coal export port in the world".
She said the NSW government was missing opportunities for jobs in these regions for major infrastructure projects.
Ms McKay said projects such as the Metro West should rely on NSW manufacturing, and she wants to mandate local manufacturing jobs for the Badgerys Creek airport development, with an additional job guarantee for young people in Western Sydney.
"Yeah I think (Joel) has a point. He knows his community well," Ms McKay said of Mr Fitzgibbon.
"He's very passionate. His father was the local member … It's a genuineness in the people he represents.
"In the Hunter and Illawarra these people who work hard, people who have a job, their father has work there, their son will work there and they are proud of what they do.
"For us to talk about taking their jobs doesn't do justice to their legacy. Their work should be valued and Joel gets that."
Ms McKay became emotional when discussing the pride in these jobs - a topic she will canvas in her budget reply speech
"When I lived in the Hunter, I shared the pride the community felt every time a new Tangara carriage built in Newcastle rolled down the tracks," the speech says.
"A sense of pride I've seen across the Illawarra and last month visiting Custom Buses in St Marys, where they spoke about pioneering electric buses they're building."
She will attack NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who this year stated "NSW isn't good at building trains. That's why we have to purchase them."
"Only Labor understands what when you manufacture in NSW, you create jobs in NSW," Ms McKay's speech says.
Earlier this year, Ms McKay was roundly attacked by union leaders after maintaining a moratorium on coal seam gas which the party previously took to the election.
"When we came out of the gas debate I realised we had to do it differently," she said.
"There is some real pragmatism in state Labor about what we've done wrong in the past and what we need to do going forward … it's my job as leader to make sure the values we have in a party mean something in 2020."
Ms McKay formed a shadow cabinet subcommittee which was focused on jobs and energy policy.
She said the group had robust discussion between shadow ministers representing environment, energy, and the affected communities.
"We've landed a position that's a true Labor position, not hijacked by any one cause. We are united on these issues which is probably for the first time."
Originally published as Jodi McKay backs Fitzgibbon and NSW blue collar workers