'Sipping almond lattes': PM's swipe at Labor over Boyne Smelters
THE ScoMo Express rolled into the Gladstone Region yesterday but left without announcing any funding for the Port City.
Beginning his day in Rockhampton before boarding his big, blue bus for a trip down the Bruce Highway, Prime Minister Scott Morrison toured Boyne Smelters before holding a press conference.
But unlike Rockhampton, which received a funding commitment of $800m for a $1-billion ring-road project, Gladstone was left with nothing.
Mr Morrison was joined by Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd on the tour and said the reason for his visit was to see the smelter in action.
But the tour quickly turned into a warning about Labor's emissions-reduction target and the potential it had to grind BSL to a halt.
"The Labor Party wants to push the emissions-reduction target up to 45 per cent and that will shut this shop down," Mr Morrison said.
"That's 1000 jobs and that will be the cost of what Labor wants to do when it comes to their plan on a 45 per cent target.
"We've got our target at 26 per cent and we made it some years ago.
"We are sticking to it and delivering on it.
"We are going to make our 2030 targets in a canter, which means we can keep places like this open."
Mr Morrison has added to the tally of prime ministers visiting Gladstone without any announcements or promises.
Tony Abbott came here in 2015 and delivered nothing, while Kevin Rudd (2013) and Julia Gillard (2011) also came up short during their visits.
The Prime Minister said aluminium remained a key export for Australia but this was threatened by Labor's policies and alignment with the Greens.
"We're standing up for the Boyne aluminium smelter and not seeing the Labor Party rob 1000 workers of their jobs," he said.
"That's what's at stake if Labor gets to put in their 45 per cent target. They will sell these jobs out to try and appease inner city Green groups in the major capital cities.
"They're not about protecting the jobs here, they're about sipping almond lattes with Green left groups in inner-city suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne."
Boyne Smelters Ltd general manager Joe Rea welcomed Mr Morrison's visit.
"It was great to host the Prime Minister at Boyne Smelters," he said.
"BSL directly employs 1000 people from the Gladstone community and spends $400m with Australian businesses each year.
"It has been adding value to Australian natural resources for nearly 40 years and we continue to innovate and invest so we can be here for another 40 years.
"To do this we need reliable energy at an internationally competitive price, which also delivers on Australia's international climate-change commitments.
"We will continue to engage constructively with all governments to make this point.
"We see aluminium as having a bright future in a carbon constrained world. We need to get policy settings right so Australian can benefit from its rich supply of world class energy resources."
However, Mr Morrison's visit didn't go down well with Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers who hit-out over the lack of a funding announcement.
"Mr Morrison's only priorities seem to be a billion-dollar tax handout to the big end of town," Mr Beers said.
"Federal Labor has already announced $100m for the Gladstone Port Access Rd, a new MRI licence for Gladstone and we'll reverse Morrison's cuts to local hospitals."
Mr Beers rejected Mr Morrison's BSL job loss claims.
"Central Queenslanders aren't stupid, they know this is complete rubbish," he said.
"Energy prices under the Liberals have skyrocketed despite Tony Abbott vowing to reduce them.
"Labor's emissions-reduction targets are in line with international commitments. Federal Labor and business groups, including the Australian Aluminium Council all support the National Energy Guarantee, which the Liberals recently walked away from."