Michaelia Cash has lashed out at Anthony Albanese, calling into question his support for the mining sector amid a renewed push to expand greenfield agreements for the industry.
Those comments, made this morning at a Politics & Policy briefing hosted by Business News, came amid a wide-ranging address that included a strong defence of the federal government’s performance on COVID-19 and acknowledgement of the Liberal Party WA's diminished standing in state parliament.
Senator Cash, who was appointed attorney general in March, told the audience she was proud to have helped guide through the parts of the federal government’s industrial relations reform that did pass in March.
The federal government had failed to secure majority support for many provisions in the original bill, with changes to the definition of casual work passing with the support of Senators Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts and Stirling Griff.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has since signalled an interest in pursuing aspects of the bill that did fail, including extending greenfield agreements for up to six years in the mining sector, renewing his support in a speech to the Minerals Council of Australia on Thursday.
Labor, alongside the broader union movement, opposes the provision, with many employer groups supporting it.
Senator Cash yesterday confirmed the federal government will renew its push to expand the timeframe for these agreements in the mining sector.
“Having a photo in high-vis on a mine site does not mean that you support the mining industry in Western Australia,” she said.
“Do not insult the mining industry.”
"When you touch down, Mr Albanese, and you do your press conference at the airport, and you say, 'I have said to the minister for industrial relations that if she brings on the changes to the greenfield agreements to cover [mining] projects ... I will direct Labor not to fight Michaelia Cash and it will go through', then I might start talking.
“Until you can say that, federal Labor, don’t come to Western Australia and say you support the mining industry, because you don’t."
The federal government's renewed push to expand greenfield agreements has been viewed in some quarters as an attempt to wedge Labor ahead of a federal election to be held within the next 12 months.
Labor, which holds just five of the state's 16 federal electorates, has improved its polling position in WA in recent months, in part buoyed by Mark McGowan's unprecedented win at the most recent state election and mounting criticism of the federal COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Senator Cash acknowledged Mr McGowan's popularity this morning and offered measured praise to the state government for its result at the March state election.
She did, however, seek to defend the federal government's performance, arguing policies like the instant asset write-off scheme had set up the national economy's 1.8 per cent growth rate in the March quarter.
"Your success as business leaders in Western Australia means your federal Liberal team is also successful," she said.
"Well and truly, we back you, and in backing you we back the great state of Western Australia."