Mar 6, 2018

Bill Shorten’s tactical flip-flopping on Adani

Don't worry, Bill Shorten is happy to think whatever you think when it comes to Adani.

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


It's been a longtime "character" argument against Bill Shorten: he'll tell anyone what they want to hear. Shorten's critics have argued this is especially true when it comes to his comments about Adani's Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. On Insiders over the weekend, Labor's employment services spokesman Ed Husic, was unequivocal: "I think we've been consistent, Barrie."  

In a way, that's true: Bill has consistently tried to be all things to all people on this issue. In light of The Courier Mail trumpeting this morning that his now apparently rigid opposition to the mine shows a willingness to throw thousands of jobs away to save a seat in his home state, let's take a look at Shorten's recent proclamations on Adani.

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19 thoughts on “Bill Shorten’s tactical flip-flopping on Adani

  1. Dog's Breakfast

    The trouble with the dickhead politicians running around saying whatever they think the person in front of them wants to hear is that sooner or later they are shown up.

    This was patently unnecessary in this case. It should have been simple “We support miners/workers, but this mine does not have our support. This mine will imperil other miners in Australia and likely lead to us earning less from our existing coal mines. This mine will exacerbate carbon pollution, and this mine has no chance of being viable commercially. We will not support it, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that zero public dollars go towards it.

    Further, we will support the region, we will look to other viable projects that will be sustainable, and we will provide public funds to help achieve that aim.”

    I’m no political adviser, but wouldn’t that have been easier, and he could have said it in Batman and in Capricornia. The wishywashy pronouncements just makes him harder to believe, and vulnerable to political attack. Better to make yourself vulnerable as someone who has a set of values and beliefs, rather than a contortionist with no ambition other than power.

    Head and shoulders above the LNP in political terms, but still dumb as. Why? Who is advising him to be this non-person?

  2. Nudiefish

    And yet the voters can be relied upon not to care.

    It only drives the political junkies mad with frustration.

  3. klewso

    Why is Shorten different?
    Look at the glossy brochures our media used to sell “The Great Turnbull – Master of Business Schemes” : against the contrasting reality of his decade of judgement cock-ups – “Australian Rain Corporation Negative Ion Pyramid Scheme anyone? Only one left and only $10,000,000.”?
    Or Jethro with his “‘Where am I?’ deliveries”?

  4. Arky

    I’m sick of this “Shorten flip-flops on Adani” line. There’s not even really any inconstency in those quotes. It seems like people salty about Labor refusing to be stupid and proclaiming blanket opposition to the Adani mine think that just saying “flip flop” makes it so.

    This is a poor article. Not just because of the misquoting (e.g a section header “We are the party of miners” which does not actually appear in the quote below it) but because it simply doesn’t try to explain where the alleged flip-flop is. It seems to think the quotes speak for itself.

    Labor doesn’t have an extreme position on the Adani mine. That does not mean it is “flip flopping” nor does it mean the other common accusation, that Labor is “on the fence”. It means Labor is taking a careful, process-driven approach to a sensitive issue. The Greens can afford to make megaphone declarations to their base. No Greens member will ever have to stand in front of the AAR, explaining how they gave Adani natural justice and approached the decision with an unbiased mind. A Labor Minister will have to do that. Sadly, rubbish “journalism” like this is more interested in applause from the echo chamber that serious analysis.

    Less of this, Crikey.

    Also, Mr Lewis: while you and yours have focussed fire on Bill Shorten, Fairfax has been doing some journalism for a change and actually looked at ways the government (you know, the ones actually making decisions about Adani now) might be trying to back-door taxpayer funds to Adani. If you want to do some useful campaigning about Adani, going after the government is the way to go. Word to the wise.

    1. CML

      Wonderful comment, Arky! Seems Crikey have joined the ‘kill Bill’ brigade.
      And Charlie…instead of putting together a number of quotes out of context, I encourage you to do what Arky suggests, and read the Fairfax press to see who is REALLY collaborating in the go ahead for the Adani mine…and using OUR money to do it.
      CLUE: It isn’t Bill Shorten!!!!!

    2. zut alors

      Bravo, Arky.

      Using ‘flip flop’ as a criticism is as limp as blowing a raspberry for rebuttal in a debate ie: meaningless.

    3. Michael

      Agree, Arky. I don’t see any inconsistency, in fact he seems to be consistently saying it needs to stack up on its own merits.

    4. [email protected]

      I agree. It’s this combination of headline/phrasing/tone inconsistent with the presented facts that seriously turn off those of us looking for non-partisan reporting. Are journalists annoyed when the facts don’t fit the narrative or do they not notice?

    5. spicelab

      This all sounds fine until you consider that both the State and Commonwealth environmental assessment and approval processes have been finished for some time. There are no remaining substantive issues to be ‘carefully and sensitively’ worked through.
      There is more than ample information on the table for Shorten to weigh up the merits of Adani, yet he still refuses to reach a final position. This is a perfect illustration of why only true believers trust him.

      1. Arky

        Dude, if that was the case, why is the mine application still in limbo?
        Shorten has made the ALP’s position crystal clear. Adani is not a special case. ALL mines will be evaluated on their merits, by the proper decision maker (who is not the Opposition Leader acting without access to the file). We all expect Adani does not stack up, given that not even the banks will touch it, so you should have no concerns here.

        The thing is, even if Shorten succumbed and singled out Adani and said it would be blocked (which the Coalition would have a field day with, for the ALP to single out a particular company to block their project without reference to a legal process), you guys wouldn’t be satisfied, you’d be calling for Labor to ban all coal mines next.

        It would be a mistake for Shorten to give in just to please the unpleasable on the far left.

        1. spicelab

          The mine application process is finished.
          Finance is another matter entirely and one that Government shouldn’t get involved in, particularly for a project with limited public benefit and profits going offshore.
          Dogs Breakfast has the right idea about the position Shorten needs to take.

  5. University of Melbourne Library

    The mural topping this article is dripping with contempt for the working class and encapsulates why the Green movement in Australia is making little progress in addressing the crucial matter of greenhouse emissions/climate change.
    No doubt it was painted by some green voting hipster who thinks he’s pretty bloody brilliant and can’t see why everyone doesn’t get why we just have to shut down all these mines and power stations and too bad if people are thrown on the scrapheap, if we don’t address this now no one will have a job etc etc.
    Adani is greenbait thrown out by the miners, Libs and Murdoch media and the Greens have swallowed it hook line and sinker. It will never happen. No bank or government are going to give them the money. Adani are con men from India and the name will go down with Khemlani in Australian political infamy.
    What the chimerical mine is though is a giant stage for right wingers to set up an ‘environment versus jobs’ frame and the Greens get sucked in every time.
    If you only ever talk about the environment in terms of job losses or higher prices you are going to lose every time. The Greens need to get out of frames set up by their opponents.
    ‘But we are in favour of mass renewables, solar themal etc’ they cry. Maybe, but compared to the effort put into trying to wedge Labor on Adani (‘Stop Labor’s Adani’ signs around Batman) the effort is a token. They are driving working class voters into the arms of the Libs and those further right.
    Til the Greens get their heads around this they will continue to fail and have to console themselves with walking past murals in the inner cities and telling each other how much better and smarter they are than Labor and those working class oiks hung about having a job.

    1. CML

      That is a great post, U of ML. Hadn’t thought about it in those terms. Maybe the Tassie voters were the first to realise how hollow the Greens megaphone really is?
      Hope the realisation moves to the mainland…fast!!

    2. Arky

      Well said.

      The Green vote in the Senate (a better guide than House of Reps since they don’t run in every seat in the House of Reps) topped out at 13% in 2010. At the 2016 Federal election is was 8.7%. They have managed to concentrate their vote in a handful of inner city electorates at the expense of reducing their appeal to the wider community. It’s echo chamber politics, preaching to the converted at the expense of convincing everyone else, because at some point the #1 goal of the Greens has become “take seats off Labour from the left” rather than achieve popular support for their policies and unseat the right wing government which is hostile to renewable energy, contains a motza of climate change deniers and other loonies, etc etc

  6. AR

    The plain fact is thar gumBoil Shlernt is the ultimate man-without-a-navel, he has no ‘there’ there.
    He will say anything to anyone if he thinks there is advantage to be had.
    Just like a…. err,,politician.

  7. Norm

    “throw thousands of jobs away”. Thousands? Well I suppose The Courier Mail is paid to trumpet the usual bullshit.

    1. klewso

      Even Adani thought their pimp overdid that.

  8. Barry Reynolds

    I think it was Leonore Taylor on Insiders last Sunday that said wtte that if Bill Shorten states out loud he will cancel the Adani license and on coming to government in fact does that, it’ll open the government up for a sovereign risk law case. If that is indeed the case he’s better off keeping his powder dry

  9. Plonkoclock

    AECOM is currently building the rail line as we speak. so where will it go if the mine doesn’t go ahead?

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