Latest Labor elder to back mining
LABOR Party elder Tony McGrady is leading a push within the party to back the mining industry, saying it is time to stop allowing opponents to have the upper hand.
Mr McGrady - a former Mines Minister in the Beattie government - has been appointed a mining ambassador by his local Mount Isa branch of the ALP, charged with talking up the multibillion-dollar industry and its positive impacts on Queensland.
"The local branch has just been discussing the federal election campaign and results and we are concerned that maybe we, party members who come from mining communities such as Mount Isa, have basically sat back and allowed the opponents of the mining industry to get on the front foot," he told The Courier-Mail.
"We just don't believe that we locally have been strong enough in defending the industry.
"We sit back here and we just allow the opponents to block the streets of Brisbane, take all these actions and we felt that maybe it's time that we presented the other side of the argument."
The Courier-Mail revealed last week that Labor members would this month vote on a motion that the ALP commit to maintaining Queensland's status as a mining powerhouse as it continues its push to win back coal country voters ahead of next year's state election.
It followed federal Labor's brutal drubbing in coal country at the May 18 state election, which prompted party elders Robert Schwarten and Bob Gibbs to call on the state branch to back the mining industry.
Mr McGrady said mining companies also had a role to play in "selling the message" around the positive impacts of the resources industry including the jobs created.
He said it was time for a "concerted campaign".
"We just want to start this campaign now to educate people, particularly those people in Brisbane and other places that don't believe they are impacted by the mining industry.
"Let the debate start about just how important the mining industry is to the Queensland economy and the jobs and the wealth which we as an industry create.
"I don't work for Mount Isa Mines. I am retired but I still have this passion because I have seen first hand just what the industry has done for our state."
Mr McGrady praised current Mines Minister Anthony Lynham for his work in promoting the resources industry but he said one minister could not do it alone.
"I love the party. I love everything it stands for but I think we've got to realise that we in the mining areas … we have played a major part in helping to develop our party and I just feel that we as a party owe it to these mining communities."