Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has followed Bill Shorten's lead in distancing Labor from Adani's Carmichael coal mine project, saying the Indian miner has failed to meet key finance and job creation milestones.
After the federal Labor leader said the jobs associated with the project could be “fake”, Ms Palaszczuk on Wednesday was asked whether she believed Adani was meeting its targets.
“Each company puts in place milestones, and in this case some of those milestones appear not to have been met,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane.
“They were given the green light about eight months ago now … and we have been very firm in that they need to get on with those jobs.”
Eight months ago, Ms Palaszczuk was talking up the project for the thousands of jobs it could potentially create, as well as the billions in royalties the state stood to earn from the mine.
Since then the premier has cooled in her public language when referring to Adani, and the state government vetoed a federal government loan to the company in in the middle of last November’s election campaign.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington criticised the premier for backing away from the project and the opportunities it could deliver for regional Queenslanders hamstrung by a lack of jobs.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk has thrown away thousands of Queensland jobs just to satisfy a guy who thinks he should be the prime minister of Australia,” Ms Frecklington said.
She would not be drawn on whether she held concerns that Adani was not meeting its targets, nor if the Liberal National Party supported the firm.
“If it is the case that Adani has gone through all of the approvals processes, and have been approved, then the project should go ahead,” she said.
The premier’s latest concerns cut little mustard with Queensland Greens Senator Andrew Bartlett who called her pre-election promise of ample jobs a “concoction”.
“Labor knew the jobs Adani promised were fake well before the election but fed the lie to Queenslanders because they had to pretend they had a plan for regional jobs to win,” Senator Bartlett said.
Federal Labor is under pressure to drop support for the mine due to its battle with the Greens in the March 17 by-election for the inner-Melbourne seat of Batman.
However, there are also concerns that stance would hurt it in a potential by-election for the seat of Longman, north of Brisbane.
Mike Brunker, a Whitsunday councillor and unsuccessful Labor candidate for the seat of Burdekin in the state election, says Mr Shorten is putting federal Queensland seats at risk in his bid to shore up votes in Victoria.
“For Christ’s sake, fight Batman on good Labor principles and good Labor values, which is normally about infrastructure, investment, health, education, rather than let the Greens set an agenda of Adani,” he said.
“In rolling over to the Greens they’re going to wipe out three seats in the workers belt in central Queensland.”
Mr Brunker said retaining federal Labor member Cathy O’Toole’s Herbert seat, which takes in Townsville, the FIFO hub for Adani’s project, and claiming the conservative Capricornia and Dawson electorates would be difficult after Mr Shorten’s remarks.