Joel Fitzgibbon and the Murdoch Press are intent on Labor instability:
Divisions within Labor on climate change have deepened after two leading union officials and a former president of the ACTU condemned frontbencher Mark Dreyfus for describing Joel Fitzgibbon as being “out of step’’ with regional Australians on environmental policy.
CFMEU Queensland mining and energy president Stephen Smyth and CFMEU NSW northern mining and energy president Peter Jordan also warned that Anthony Albanese’s team had not done enough to win back blue-collar workers who deserted the party at the last election.
Mr Dreyfus lashed out at Mr Fitzgibbon’s push for a moderate climate change policy after the Hunter MP quit his frontbench position on Tuesday. “Joel is out of step not only with the Labor Party, but he’s out of step with thinking across Australia: in the regions, the cities, the unions,” Mr Dreyfus told the ABC.
Rogue Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has called on Anthony Albanese to take the climate change portfolio away from opposition frontbencher Mark Butler.
Mr Fitzgibbon quit the shadow cabinet this week amid a year-long battle to shift Labor towards a smaller-target emissions reduction policy.
The ABC is stoking it too:
Canberra’s revolving door of political leaders is creaking again.
…Fitzgibbon, freshly freed from the constraints of the frontbench, called a press conference on Tuesday to declare war (of sorts).
First came his battle plan.
“If you want to act on climate change, the first step is to become the government,” he told reporters.
“And to become the government, you need to have a climate change and energy policy that can be embraced by a majority of the Australian people.”
He then doubled down, with high-profile interviews on the ABC, suggesting a “substantial number’ of his 93 Caucus colleagues shared that view.
That statement is hotly contested by some of his colleagues, who say Fitzgibbon’s influence has been “massively overblown”.
But there are those on the right (particularly in the pro-coal Otis Group) who are pleased he’s trying to reframe the debate within Labor around ambition on climate change.
I won’t even pretend that Fitzgibbon is fit to lead or has any chance of resurrecting Labor’s chances at the next election. He will destroy the party with his dated coal drivel.
But right now Australia has a larger fish to fry. We are in the fight of our lives against Chinese economic aggression. Labor has been bad enough in failing to support the Government in this fight. Yet Joel Fitzgibbon has been the worst. He has a dirty history with Chinese money. From a decade ago:
PRIVATE records of a Chinese-Australian businesswoman close to former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon indicate he received substantial payments as part of a campaign to cultivate him as an agent of political and business influence.
The confidential papers of businesswoman Helen Liu contradict claims last year by Mr Fitzgibbon and his father, former Labor MP Eric Fitzgibbon that they had no financial or business relationship with Ms Liu.
Mr Fitzgibbon resigned from Cabinet last June after it was revealed his brother, NIB Health Funds chief Mark Fitzgibbon, had used his office to lobby for defence health contracts.
The minister’s political standing had already been weakened by his failure to disclose that he had accepted two first-class flights to China bankrolled by Ms Liu, a wealthy entrepreneur with high-level political and military contacts in Beijing. He was also renting his Canberra residence from the Liu family.
The documents obtained by The Age show Ms Liu recorded her 1997-98 payment of 850,000 Chinese yuan approximately $150,000 at the then current values to Joel Fitzgibbon under the heading “money paid including expenses and gifts”.
And has also gone much further than most in blaming Australia for Chinese aggression:
An opposition frontbencher has accused the Australian government of having “started a war with China” and allowing the relationship to slip to its lowest level since the Tiananmen Square massacre.
While launching his mostly strongly worded attack on the government’s handling of the relationship to date, the former Labor minister Joel Fitzgibbon also suggested the Coalition should have used this week’s budget to compensate Australian barley growers hit by China’s 80% tariffs.
Fitzgibbon, who is Labor’s agriculture and resources spokesperson, told a National Rural Press Club event in Canberra on Thursday that those farmers had been “directly affected by the poor decisions of their government”.
The Chinese attack is neither random nor the result of anything that the Morrison Government has done. China threatened Australian sovereignty over the past few years. We responded as any self-respecting nation would by pushing back appropriately if modestly.
The CCP has taken this pushback as an opportunity to deploy a test case for a new approach to wielding economic power worldwide. This is born out by the recent Fifth Plenum which elevated economics and economic relationships into the pantheon of “Xi Jinping thought”. That is, both are now are newly anointed tools of CCP geopolitical power and influence. Free trade is so yesterday.
As the test case, Australia literally now carries the weight of the free world on its shoulders. If we buckle then the CCP will deploy this policy of economic coercion wherever and whenever it likes, to any state that resists it, one by one. First will be the Pacific theater with New Zealand and the island states to follow. Then it will spread worldwide.
Yet as the Government struggles with this extraordinary moment in the history of liberalism, Labor and the press gallery are playing the same old Canberra game of backstabbing to promote one of China’s more obvious lackeys to the Labor leadership with almost notion of the stakes involved.
Ironically, we can take comfort from the outcome of any Fitzgibbon destabilisation, let alone him becoming leader, which will be to sink Labor in the polls and keep the Coalition in power to fight the good fight against China.
Eventually, even it will be forced to turn on climate change, as we have already seen.