Former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating has labelled current Prime Minister Scott Morrison a “fossil with a baseball cap” in response to questions about Morrison’s approach to climate change and the future of coal in Australia, following the official launch of the Federal Labor Party’s election campaign on the weekend.
On Sunday, the Labor Party officially launched its election campaign in Brisbane in front of a crowd largely consisting of party faithful.
Federal Labor has previously released its election commitments on renewable energy and climate change, featuring commitments to increase the amount of investment made by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and an adoption of an emissions reduction mechanism based off the Coalition’s own National Energy Guarantee.
In an interview with ABC News following the ALP launch in Brisbane, Keating provided a stronger rebuke of the fossil fuel sector than was offered by any of the Labor leadership team who made speeches during the launch, which included Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk, Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek and Labor Leader Bill Shorten.
The campaign launch had predominantly featured the announcement of new Labor commitments focused on supporting workers and the wider economy.
Speaking to the AB, Keating reflected on Morrison’s conduct while Treasurer, after Keating was pressed on the potential economic impacts of Australia shifting away from coal.
“Coal is the fuel of the industrial revolution 250-years ago, it’s all over.” Keating said. “There’s the prime minister walking around with a lump of coal. Coal is a fossil. The problem is that the prime minister is a fossil himself. He’s a fossil with a baseball cap, but he’s a fossil.”
“What will happen? The world will stop using fossil fuels. It’s as simple as that. The cost of renewables has come down 90 per cent in about 15 years. Continental Australia is one of the hot plates of the world. You can almost fry an egg on any footpath or any roadway at any time in this country. We can produce, here, such an enormous supply of electricity from renewables”.
While Federal Labor’s election campaign launch played Paul Kelly’s ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ as a warm up to the event, Paul Kelly himself joined the Stop Adani campaigners in Canberra on the same day, performing for a crowd of several thousand protesters who had gathered to welcome the arrival of the convoy.
We have filed into the room for the Labor campaign launch. Paul Kelly's From Little Things Big Things Grow is playing. Meanwhile at Parliament House Paul Kelly will play to a crowd for a climate change protest #Ausvotes pic.twitter.com/PySI0dXQaC
— Eliza Berlage (@verbaliza) May 5, 2019
Speakers at the convoy’s rally included former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of 350.org Australia Blair Palese and Man Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan with a performance from musician Paul Kelly.
The arrival of the convoy in Canberra was the culmination of the campaigner’s travels across the east coast of Australia, starting from Tasmania and travelling up to the Galilee Basin in Queensland.
The convoy has called for all political parties to commit to halting progress on the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine, which is set to become Australia’s largest producer of coal for export. Environment and water management approvals for Adani’s mine were made in days prior to the Federal Election being called in Aprill.
In front of a sizeable crowd amassed on the lawns of Parliament House, Bob Brown called for leaders of both the Liberal and Labor Parties to follow the lead of the Greens and independent candidates to commit to stopping the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine.
“We’re 5,000 strong here, the biggest show of this campaign, to say, to both Bill [Shorten] and to Scott [Morrison], to join the Greens and those sterling independents to stop Adani, and we will have it stopped.”
The convoy started on 17 April, leaving Hobart and travelling up the east coast of Australia, reaching the Galilee Basin before returning south to Canberra, and has been timed to coincide closely with the Federal Election.