LISTENING TOUR: Opposition leader Bill Shorten addresses resident concerns at last week's town hall meeting.
LISTENING TOUR: Opposition leader Bill Shorten addresses resident concerns at last week's town hall meeting. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

Shorten is sceptical about Adani but also pro-mining in CQ

WE SHOULDN'T be putting all our eggs in one basket.

That's the message Opposition leader Bill Shorten was ramming home about Adani's Carmichael Mine Project when he visited The Morning Bulletin office last week.

Questions had lingered regarding his stance on Adani and other CQ coal mining projects after recent comments he'd made, casting doubt on the future prospects for the project.

"What I'm not going to do is say one thing in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and another thing here," Mr Shorten said.

"As the alternative Prime Minister of Australia people will say what do you think of [Adani]?

"I just don't think it's going to happen."

He said we needed to accept that Adani was just "another project" and was not the test of whether or not you believe in resources playing a role in our energy mix and export economies.

He was quick to point out that although he had doubts about Adani, it was possible to be sceptical and yet be "pro-mining".

Mr Shorten acknowledged that the North West minerals province in development was "outstanding" and "the Bowen Basin was going to be around for a very long time to come".

"But this Adani deal hasn't been us issuing deadline after deadline they're not meeting," he said.

"If Adani doesn't stack up commercially or environmentally, why on earth are we telling everyone on earth that it's the answer?

"It hasn't done all of its approvals, that's one issue, and to be fair, there does seem to be a lot of debate about the water basin, the Great Artesian Water Basin.

"The Adani [project] is the only serious prospect in the Galilee Basin and they're the only ones who've invested any money, the rest have got tenements, that's a couple of accountants and a brass plate somewhere in an office."

He said Adani's project has become far more political than other mining projects and was guilty of putting out "mixed messages" and to an extent had "oversold itself".

"They don't even say there's 10,000 jobs, do you think they're going to create 10,000 jobs?" he asked.

"Sorry, you can make a promise, but when?"

In the 800 jobs Adani claimed to already employ in Queensland, Mr Shorten said while Adani did indeed have workers involved in setting up their camp, exploration, and working in Townsville headquarters, a lot of their employees came from the purchase of existing assets like the Abbott Point coal terminal.

"That's good that they employ people, I'm happy to see people employed but the promise has been 10,000 jobs," MrShorten said.

"It was going to be the answer to Central and North Queensland.

"What I'm not doing is saying to North Queensland that they should put all their eggs in one basket."

He pointed to the employees who had been burned by rich people making promises about the failed Queensland Nickel Refinery.

Mr Shorten blamed both sides of politics for talking up the project, saying "this is the answer" whereas he liked to take a longer-term view on sustainable jobs.

"I see Central Queensland as an energy hub, an energy province, but that doesn't therefore mean I just accept every proposition that every international company comes along and pumps people's hopes up," he said.

"There's many ways to prosperity."

Mr Shorten said his infrastructure promises for Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Gladstone were his way of trying to establish a pipeline of blue collar work for the regions in the absence of the Adani project not materialising.

"The difference is that I'll be there if and when Adani works out on other jobs," he said.