Joel Fitzgibbon says he warned against Labor’s coal message

The message “omitted the third important point – that [if the project is] able to meet all those tests then we would welcome the investment and the jobs,” he said.

“We need to be talking at least as much, if not more, about manufacturing, blue-collar jobs, support for our working-class people and more about the regions.

“I made these points within the party on many, many occasions … it’s time for people to realise that until we recognise we have a problem, and fix the problem, we will not form government.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said Labor’s “light touch” climate policy did not threaten the coal industry and would have benefited the agriculture sector through an expanded carbon farming initiative.

But Labor’s “equivocation” on Adani put doubt in the minds of coal miners and, together with negative rhetoric from the Coalition, caused them to link the party’s climate policy to the potential loss of coal jobs, he said.

Labor's political opponents seized on the Adani issue throughout the campaign.

Labor’s political opponents seized on the Adani issue throughout the campaign.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow said in a statement on Monday that Queenslanders were “proud of their coal mining industry” and the state Labor government should finalise the mine’s approvals.

“Queenslander miners are sick of people telling them that they should be embarrassed and ashamed of what they do, when they should be heralded for working to the highest environmental standards and bringing prosperity to the state,” he said.

Senior Labor figures have urged the party not to walk away from strong pollution cuts despite its devastating loss in what had been billed as the climate change election.

In a statement on Sunday, Labor national president Wayne Swan said climate change was one of the “biggest risks to this country’s future” and the party must “find a politics that connects the people with these urgent challenges”.

Veteran Labor senator Doug Cameron, who retired at the election, said a vast number of Australians backed Labor’s campaign agenda and “we should not abandon progressive policies on the basis of fear campaigns».

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon.

Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“It’s a clear, unequivocal issue … we just can’t keep going the way we’re going [on carbon emissions],” he said.

“But in that context we still need coking coal, we still need to make cement, we still need to make steel. I’m sure any lessons from this campaign will be considered by the caucus, the leader and the party.”

The Coalition’s climate policies are also being scrutinised after it suffered a huge defeat in Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah and a swing against other Liberal MPs in city seats.

Liberal Mackellar MP Jason Falinksi, who suffered a 2.4 per cent negative swing, told Sky News on Monday that the government must “do a better job of explaining our policy on climate and energy”.

“I think ultimately there was some misunderstanding about what we have done on energy and climate policy and in the environment generally, because I think we have a very good record,” he said.

Nicole Hasham is environment and energy correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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