Albo’s gag order on Queensland mine
OPPOSITION Leader Anthony Albanese has tried to silence his team from discussing a controversial coal mine expansion on the Darling Downs.
The Courier-Mail has been told Mr Albanese's office attempted to muzzle Labor pollies yesterday over a push from colleagues to pressure the Queensland Government into urgently approving a $900 million expansion of the New Acland mine, near Oakey
Mine operator the New Hope Group has run out of coal and been slashing jobs as it waits for final approvals from the Queensland Government, which has refused to act as it waits for the Oakey Coal Action Alliance to exhaust a mooted High Court challenge.
The stalling recently led a ginger group of senior Federal Labor figures to speak out, including Queensland frontbencher Shayne Neumann and Senator Anthony Chisholm.
The Courier-Mail yesterday asked the remaining seven Queensland federal Labor MPs and senators if they backed the call to quickly approve the mine.
Three MPs responded however none backed the position of the rebel group.
Senators Murray Watt and Nita Green as well as environment spokeswoman Terri Butler declined to comment.
Oxley MP Milton Dick did not respond before deadline.
Sources said there had been an "edict" from Mr Albanese's office to avoid questions about the mine.
A spokesman for Mr Albanese denied anyone had been told not to talk, saying it was "really a matter for everyone to decide what they want to do in terms of getting back".
He said there was a "position" from Mr Albanese that the expansion was a state issue and the matter was under review.
Queensland's most senior Labor MP treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said he supported the resources industry and the jobs it created.
"At the end of the day, the determination of any proposed expansion of this mine is a decision for the Queensland Government," he said.
"Ideally there'd be an outcome that supports jobs, provides certainty to the community and doesn't compromise the legal and environmental processes underway."
Lilley MP Anika Wells said the Queensland Government had "repeatedly stated that their decision on New Acland will be made once the court process is finalised.
"We are each elected to represent the views of our constituents, Lilley residents aren't raising this issue with me but they are regularly voicing their concerns about climate change and its impact on our future," she said.
Moreton MP Graham Perrett said approving the expansion was a "matter for the Queensland Government" which had to "apply legal processes".
A spokesman for Ms Butler said she had a standing position not to comment on issues that could involve her being a legal party in court action if she was environment minister in a potential future Labor government.
Originally published as Albo's gag order on Queensland mine