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Union lashes divided Labor over ‘morally indefensible’ gas opposition

“Spewing out environmental buzzwords about the evils of fossil fuels while refusing to take a hard position just isn’t good enough. Labor needs to tell a good economic story on energy and it needs a good economic storyteller to step up.”

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“Labor must wholeheartedly embrace gas and we must explain why. We must explain where we want to go and what’s necessary to get there safely.

The federal opposition continues a new round of bitter infighting over its climate and energy policy, with revelations veteran frontbencher Mark Dreyfus led fierce attacks against resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon at a private meeting on Monday.

Several MPs on a virtual meeting of the Victorian Right faction told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald Mr Dreyfus had called his shadow cabinet colleague “the idiot for Hunter” over Mr Fitzgibbon’s continued advocacy for the ALP to embrace fossil fuels to win back blue-collar voters.

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On Thursday Mr Butler repeated his statement that Australia would not be able to base its prosperity entirely on fossil fuels in the way it did in the 20th century.

He said to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 would have an impact on Australia as a large exporter of coal and gas.

“But gas is a critically important part of our economy and society here in Australia,” Mr Butler told Sky News Australia.

“Many of our businesses rely very heavily on gas, a number of manufacturers very heavily, employing thousands and thousands of Australians.”

Since losing last year’s federal election Labor has been locked in a growing policy tussle over whether to support future gas production, with some MPs breaking from the party’s grassroots environmental movement, known as LEAN, by supporting the development of new gas fields and the construction of new gas-fired power stations.

Mr Fitzgibbon has faced internal criticism for advocating Labor be more vocal in its support for gas development and support of the coal industry.

Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said on Thursday Labor was “hopelessly divided” over energy and climate policy.

“They don’t have a plan to reduce emissions, reduce power prices and create jobs. While Labor will continue fighting amongst itself on gas and climate policies, the Morrison government is taking real and meaningful action to reduce emissions, cut energy costs and keep the lights on.”

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