Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen (left) leads a pro-Adani rally as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visits Mackay.
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen (left) leads a pro-Adani rally as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visits Mackay.

Mixed reaction over Premier's backflip on Adani mine

DEPUTY Premier Jackie Trad says she supports Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's announcement while dismissing suggestions the Premier was acting without her support.

However, speaking on ABC Radio this morning, Ms Trad refused to say whether she supported the Adani mine.

"I want long-term, secure jobs," she said.

"If that comes in the thermal coal sector, then that needs to happen."

It comes after Ms Palaszczuk's extraordinary comments yesterday, when she said she was "fed up" with her own government's delays on Adani, as she and Ms Trad fight for their political futures.

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The Premier yesterday jetted into central Queensland, donned a hard hat and hi-vis and performed an extraordinary backflip, declaring "enough is enough" and calling a meeting between Adani and bureaucrats to set a deadline for the contentious Galilee Basin coalmine.

However her belated intervention into the long-running saga was ridiculed by the Opposition, and failed to quell significant unrest among Labor MPs following the party's annihilation at Saturday's federal election.

Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Trad have been under siege since the Adani issue helped deliver victory for the Coalition.

The pair have been accused of frustrating the mine's approval process to pander to environmentalists at the expense of Queensland jobs.

Ms Trad, who recently declared coal workers must "re-skill", is seen as the architect of the Adani delays as she fights to protect her South Brisbane seat from the Greens.

State MPs from across Labor's factions, senior party stalwarts and union heavyweights have been canvassing their options for a potential leadership change amid concern the federal contagion would infect Ms Palaszczuk's second-term administration.

It's understood Right faction figures have discussed pushing Ms Trad out of the deputy role. Ms Trad has countered by offering to fund favoured projects and programs of disgruntled MPs in next month's State Budget.

The high-stakes internal turbulence comes days before Ms Palaszczuk is due to jet out on a trade trip to Japan and the US for almost two weeks, leaving Ms Trad as acting premier and forced to answer daily questions about her position on Adani.

Declaring "enough is enough", Ms Palaszczuk yesterday revealed she was calling in co-ordinator-general Barry Broe to mediate between Adani and the Department of Environment and develop a clear deadline for a decision on the coal mine.

"I've been in tougher battles than this," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington lampooned the backdown as a slap in the face to regional Queensland who were the ones truly "fed up" with Labor.

"This isn't a decision, this is a meeting," Ms Frecklington said.

"Her Government is in crisis, her MPs are in revolt and it's always someone else's fault with Annastacia Palaszczuk.

"Well no one is buying the Premier's pathetic excuses any longer."

The Environment Department has so far refused repeated requests by the company to develop a timeline to make decisions over the company's management plans for the endangered black-throated finch - for groundwater at its site.

Ms Palaszczuk said: "I think that the community is fed up with the process.'' I know I am fed up with the process. I know my local members are fed up with it. I think everyone has had a gutful, quite frankly."

The revelation was accompanied by a mea culpa on behalf of the Federal Labor Party, with Ms Palaszczuk declaring: "I am really sorry that Labor let you down. I am really sorry that happened."

Saturday's federal election drubbing saw Labor's primary vote drop to about 27 per cent in Queensland, less than a percentage point higher than it was when the former Bligh Government was turfed from office in 2012.

Regional MPs were already threatening to revolt unless action was taken to save their seats. Labor Party elders have called on the Premier to act or risk losing government.

Party elder Bob Gibbs said the Palaszczuk Government's handling of the mine was "a disgraceful example of incompetence by government".

He yesterday warned if the Government waited too long to approve the mine they would be "up to their necks in the mire, they'll have no chance of getting out of it".

He said the Premier needed to learn from Queensland's State of Origin team and rise to the occasion "or realise that the game's over and hand the leadership to somebody else".

The Premier's announcement yesterday appeared to take some heat out of the rebellion, with Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper saying "clearly we have been listened to".

However, senior caucus figures are convinced Ms Palaszczuk's decision to announce a meeting showed she was not capable of altering the course of her administration.

While Ms Trad has long been seen as the natural replacement for Ms Palaszczuk given her Left faction's dominance of caucus numbers, Kate Jones and Cameron Dick now loom as key contenders.

Adani chief executive Lucas Dow yesterday agreed to the meeting but demanded a decision within a fortnight.

"If we haven't got those approvals in our hands in the next two weeks, you can effectively just take today as nothing more than another delaying or a political stunt to take the heat out of it," he said.

Mr Dow said his company had spent the past seven months trying to get a clear time frame from the Government about the approvals process after providing everything required to the environment department over 18 months.

Adani had already invested $3.5 billion in Queensland and had another $2 billion ready for building the mine and a railway, he said.

"We're ready to go," Mr Dow said.



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