Opposition leader Bill Shorten visited Mackay today.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten visited Mackay today.

Mackay you need to change: Bill Shorten

"LABOR is not anti-mining in the slightest but we do think the Mackay economy needs to diversify," Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told the Daily Mercury.

On the federal election trail today in Mackay, Mr Shorten sat down with the Daily Mercury and spoke about the mining and sugar industry, climate change and the Greens, and the need for Mackay to diversify its economy.

"Mackay has got great potential in tourism, the sugar industry, quality health services and education, including a great lifestyle," Mr Shorten said.

"Mining is part of Australia's and Mackay's future but we also need to think about climate change because it's Labor's opinion that climate change is real and happening right now.

"We know the trend around the world is that there needs to be greater investment in renewables so we think it is important that Australia doesn't miss the wave of renewable energy investment and the Mackay region could benefit from that."

Mr Shorten said it's not leadership to tell someone if they are overweight that the potential to have a heart attack is not there, and it's not leadership to tell people they don't need to change.

"It is also not leadership either like the Greens who dismiss the role of coal, however, we need encourage investors to move into renewable energy," he said.

"The cane growers in the Mackay region need to know that they have a government in Canberra that are going to stick to a course of action.

"The sugar industry and biomass technology is proving very exciting and the role of cane and renewable energy is unquestioned.

"What we will do is say we want 50% of our energy derived from renewable energy by 2030 and within that there are jobs to be created."

Even though Mr Shorten said "Labor is not anti-mining", projects like the Adani coal mine, which could support thousands of jobs in Mackay, need to face commercial reality and should not be subsidised by the taxpayer.

"Mining is a part of Mackay's future but the truth of the matter is we don't see the need for taxpayers subsidising Adani and the question is whether their deal is commercial or it is not," Mr Shorten said.

"For me it's about science and the future but I'm not going to use taxpayer money to fund commercial ventures and personally I would rather invest in renewables and the sugar industry.

"The project has to stand on its own two feet however; I'm not going to run around like some Green sloganeering saying that we have to re-bury the coal in the ground.

"I get that the coal industry generates good jobs and I get that we need coal as part of our economic future as it is part of our energy mix going forward."

Mr Shorten said just like how Mackay industry needs to diversify, mining workers also need to diversify their skills into other areas of industry.

"We will put more money into Tafe for people to get retrained and secondly I will make sure there is proper infrastructure jobs created for skills used in mining," he said.

"I want to make sure that if you're a diesel fitter, truck driver or even someone who works the drag lines there will be a job for you.

"And I also believe as Australia and Mackay go down the path of renewable energy there will be jobs available to them."

Mr Shorten said like the Daily Mercury's "Fair Go" for the regions campaign, Labor's policies were all about supporting regions like Mackay now and into the future.

"I support the Daily Mercury's "Fair Go" campaign," he said.

"I have spoken about tourism, infrastructure spend and renewable energy, but I also said Labor's policy is made for the regions.

"If you have needs-based funding there is a greater need in the regions for resources than the city.

"If you have bulk billing preserved that means that pathology labs across the region will keep providing services in Mackay rather than Brisbane.

"If you have funding it means the CQU campus here in Mackay can keep providing courses and if you provide a capable NBN network it means that businesses here can compete in the region."


LOOK: See photos of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as he visited Beaconsfield State School today.


Shorten announced $35m for Dawson electorate schools

THE FIRST questions asked of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten when he stepped off the bus bearing his face at Beaconsfield State School yesterday came from school captain Georgianna Cantwell.

She and fellow school captain Caleb Johns bravely stepped forward, as journalists and photographers clambered around them, to guide the entourage to a prep classroom, ahead of a press conference where a $35 million funding promise to Dawson schools was made.

"My palms were sweaty. There were so many flashes. I asked him if he'd ever been a school or sports captain before," Georgianna said.

"He hadn't but he said he'd been on school council."

After greeting teacher Kate Jackson's class of five-year-olds and meeting students like Punaika Taitau and Sophia Thomas, Mr Shorten and Shadow Minister for Education Kate Ellis greeted the media, announcing an extra $35 million for Dawson schools in 2018 and 2019.

Another $4.6 million was also promised nationally, to "targeted teaching".

Ms Ellis explained in some year levels there could be gaps of five to six years of where a child's educational learning was at.

Targeted teaching would aim to cater for each child individually, and Ms Ellis said, had been proven to increase the number of students in a classroom meeting the benchmark by as much as 20%.

"We need to measure where each individual student's learning is at and what they can benefit from being taught next," she said.

Mr Shorten said in the long term, Labor's education policy could see GDP grow 11%, and 2.8% immediately, so was a major aspect in growing the economy.


Shorten labels Dawson MP George Christensen a "nutter" and a "bigot"

ACCORDING to Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, LNP Member for Dawson George Christensen is "a walking headline in search of a story".

The potential prime minister described the LNP representative as a "bigot", "nutter" and "one loose unit".

Labor candidate for Dawson Frank Gilbert accused Mr Christensen of creating "beat ups" regarding refugees, Muslims and people's differing sexual orientations.

Mr Christensen had a measured response: "Look, those guys can carry on in this manner and I'm just going to stick to the plan on fighting for local jobs," he said.

"Instead of attacking me, perhaps they should have been declaring their hand on Adani and actually saying Adani could get Northern Infrastructure Facility loans, instead they've ruled it out."

Mayor hands down decision on councillor complaint

Premium Content Mayor hands down decision on councillor complaint

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto has handed down his decision regarding a complaint...

Drink driver faces court after breaking neck in car crash

Premium Content Drink driver faces court after breaking neck in car crash

‘Tell everyone what happens when you drink and drive’: A South Burnett man shared...

Exciting new digital future for the South Burnett Times

Exciting new digital future for the South Burnett Times

Our new website platform will lead to faster load times, quicker coverage of...