Bill Shorten has consistently demonstrated he is a very flawed individual and politician. But thanks to the continued scandals and distractions created by the Turnbull Government these flaws are constantly escaping scrutiny and being buried by the news cycle.
Last week Michaelia Cash’s brain snap in Senate Estimates completely overshadowed the revelations that Shorten made a secret promise the militant CFMEU to tear up the Fair Work Act and that he had promised to businessman and environmentalist Geoffrey Cousins he would look at ways to revoke the licence of the Adani coal mine in North Queensland if Labor won the next election.
However this week Shorten’s flip-flopping on the Adani mine is now front and centre. In the Batman by-election in inner Melbourne on March 17 Labor is trying to fend off a challenge from the Greens who are making the Adani mine an issue in the campaign. In an effort to bolster Labor’s prospects Shorten yesterday said “I don’t support the Adani project”.
Shorten last year told Queenslanders a different position “I support the Adani coalmine so long as it stacks up. I hope it stacks up, by the way”. The u-turn from Shorten has spooked his Labor frontbench colleagues with one claiming he had “lost the plot” with any attempt by a Labor Government to revoke the licence of the mine raising sovereign risk fears.
After the reaction from his colleagues in what appeared to be captain’s call Shorten aimed to reassure all stakeholders that a Labor Government would not rip up contracts made by previous governments. It has given the Turnbull Government a much needed political break with Josh Frydenberg, Ian McDonald and Micheal Sukkar all coming out swinging against Shorten. Turnbull called Shorten’s various positions on Adani “completely two-faced”.
One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson has also been eager to highlight Shorten’s duplicity on Adani, after the revelations from Geoffrey Cousins Hanson revealed that Shorten told her last year he was pro-coal. She has also quite rightly questioned why should the voters all the way down in Batman in Melbourne decide the future of jobs in Central and North Queensland.
I sat in Bill Shorten’s office in 2017 where he told me that, unlike some in Labor, he was pro-coal mining.
So he is either extremely forgetful or he has lost control of Labor’s agenda to the Greens.
Which is it Bill? Failed memory or failed leadership? -PH #auspol
— Pauline Hanson 🇦🇺 (@PaulineHansonOz) February 28, 2018
SAVE QLD JOBS | @PaulineHansonOZ leads the assault against a flip-flopping Shorten.
“I think it is disgusting that Bill Shorten is prepared to risk billions of dollars for central Queensland just because he is scared of losing the Batman by-election” https://t.co/BGEmPKkHtc
— Pauline Hanson 🇦🇺 (@PaulineHansonOz) March 7, 2018
Some have speculated that after Batman by-election Shorten will again revert back to supporting the Adani mine. He has also been unveiling Labor candidates in regional Queensland for the next federal election where he has said there is a place for coal and that he supports the mining industry.
If the Turnbull Government can finally rid itself of further blunders, scandals and fits of disunity it might allow the media attention to focus on Shorten’s duplicitous political strategy and the danger he poses to economic development and business conference in the nation. Shorten has always been less popular than Malcolm Turnbull and Shorten’s flaws can easily be his undoing.