IN TOWN: Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the Northern Oil's Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant in Yarwun with project and operations manager, Shaun Brice.
IN TOWN: Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at the Northern Oil's Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant in Yarwun with project and operations manager, Shaun Brice. Chris Lees

What Shorten thinks is key to Gladstone's future

THE Port Access Rd, National Broadband Network and sorting out energy are key to Gladstone's future, according to the Federal Opposition Leader who was in Gladstone today.

ALP leader, Bill Shorten was in Gladstone to tour the Northern Oils biofuels plant which opened in June and to talk to the community and local leaders about jobs at a forum held this afternoon.

He claimed that if Labor had been elected at the last election, the long-awaited Port Access Rd would have been built. and he was critical of the Federal Government for the impact of high energy prices on business and people in the region.

"The real problem is that Mr Turnbull looks at rising energy prices as another political problem," he said.

"He doesn't understand how painful it is for ordinary Australians and businesses to have rising out of control energy prices."

Mr Shorten admitted energy retailers needed to do more, but said the Federal Government needed to do the same.

"At the moment there's insufficient investment in energy because there's a lack of policy certainty," he said.

"What we need is a clean energy target, we've extended the hand of compromise to the government.

"If it's a fair dinkum clean energy target ... then we're up for working with them to see how it can be done."

Mr Shorten said he'd been visiting Gladstone for two decades and the city was never afraid to roll its sleeves up and bid for jobs.

"You've got a lot of strengths here, you've got a highly skilled workforce, you've done it tough no doubt," he said.

"We've seen lots of families leave the area, but you are quite a diversified economy.

"What we need to do is make sure you've got good infrastructure, reliable NBN and of course downward pressure on energy."

Mr Shorten listed Rio Tinto's refineries, NRG's power station, the port, Cement Australia's operations, Northern Oil's Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant, tourism and being a service centre for mining further west as the region's strong points but he said it was important to get more apprentices back into the region.

He stressed that young people needed the chance to pursue a career and a future through a quality apprenticeship.

In response to Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd's comments (see below) Mr Shorten said the number one cause of rising energy prices was a lack of policy certainty.



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