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High-ranking politician slammed for telling industry to reskill

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad speaks with workers
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad speaks with workers

Queensland’s second highest-ranking politician in Cabinet has been blasted for telling mine workers to be trained to work in anything but coal.

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington is accusing the ruling Labor Party of “turning its back on the very important resources industry”.

“We have heard … it is turning its back on the resources industry and deliberately destroying thousands of jobs, even with the deputy premier calling on coal workers to reskill,” she said in Queensland Parliament. “At the Queensland Media Club, the premier could not even bring herself to say the word ‘Adani’ … even the state government’s own resources expert, Commissioner [Caoilin] Chestnutt, said the process was an absolute mess.”

Media reports speculate Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hesitated to mention the India-headquartered proponent behind the $21 billion Carmichael Coal Project due to the appointment of former Greens candidates to high-profile positions within the State Department of Natural Resources and Mines, which is still assessing the project.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad defends her statement, saying the government’s long-term study into the future of thermal coal shows everyone is diversifying away from the fossil fuel, especially Glencore which recently vowed to limit coal production.

“Here we have Glencore and the market making significant changes around their production of thermal coal … the fact is markets are moving away from thermal coal, communities are moving away from thermal coal, nation states are moving away from thermal coal,” she said in parliament. “What we need to do as a coal exporter is understand that and equip our communities with the best possible chance of reskilling. That is why we are focused on other materials.”

The remarks came despite the International Energy Agency forecasting global coal demand over the next five years to remain stable. Although demand is expected to decline in both the United States and European Union, this will be offset by growth in India and other parts of Asia.

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