Fabio Mattioli and Kari Dahlgren write in The Conversation (11.10.19) that the Labor Party will not win an election by cozying up to the coal industry or by weakening its climate target. Instead, the authors suggest, Labor must find the common ground uniting workers in the cities and the regions – job insecurity.
‘Months after Labor’s shock election loss, it is still pondering how the Liberals metamorphosed from party of the bosses to party of the workers – one that stole an election win from under them.
‘At the May 18 federal election, several working class seats in Queensland did not fall into Labor’s hands as expected, and the party narrowly retained others in New South Wales with large negative swings.
‘They include the coal seat of Hunter, north of Sydney, where Labor’s resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon suffered a 10% swing against him. He this week claimed constituents were scared off by Labor’s ambitious emissions reduction goal – which necessarily entails curbing the burning of fossil fuels such as coal.
‘Fitzgibbon called on Labor to adopt the government’s weak emissions targets – a call that drew ire from some of his colleagues. But there is no doubt that since Labor’s election loss, the party has set about proving itself as pro-coal.
‘Days after the election, the controversial Adani mine received long-outstanding approvals from the Queensland Labor government, which also adopted a strong pro-coal message at its party conference. Federal Labor MPs were reportedly tripping over themselves to join the newly formed group Parliamentary Friends of Coal Exports.
‘But cosying up to coal is not the way forward for Labor. Instead, it must find the common ground that unites workers in the cities and the regions – job insecurity – and build a consensus for climate action on that basis.’