Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon considers running for Labor leadership in wake of federal election loss

CLARITY: Joel Fitzgibbon said Labor needed to tread "a new path" and be "loud and proud" in supporting coal mining and action on climate change. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen
CLARITY: Joel Fitzgibbon said Labor needed to tread "a new path" and be "loud and proud" in supporting coal mining and action on climate change. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

HUNTER MP Joel Fitzgibbon said on Tuesday he would consider contesting the federal Labor leadership to take the party in a new direction.

Speaking on Nine's Today Show, Mr Fitzgibbon said he would "much rather someone else" emerge to replace Bill Shorten.

"But if I need to do it to secure the new path, the new direction we need, then I certainly will," he said.

Speaking in the wake of Labor shock loss in the federal election on Saturday, Mr Fitzgibbon said he wanted leadership candidates who would commit to better representing regional Australia and coal mining.

"What I'm particularly interested in is the policy direction and the message we send to the community, particularly to rural and regional Australia," he said.

"I'd actually like to see a leader who doesn't live in the capital cities. You have to go back to Malcolm Fraser to find one on the Liberal side, and you'd have to go back to Ben Chifley on the Labor side."

He said Labor needed a leader who was prepared to say they supported the coal mining industry, and supported "getting cheap gas out of the ground to fuel our manufacturing sector" to create jobs.

"If a leader candidate is prepared to commit to those things loudly and proudly then I'm happy to stand back and support them," he said.

"If they are not, then I'll run myself."

Mr Fitzgibbon said voters perceived mixed messages about Labor's stance on climate change and its support for coal mining.

"I think we can chew gum and walk at the same time. You can have a strong coal mining industry while at the same time taking meaningful action on climate change," the shadow agriculture minister said.

Anthony Albanese is the early favourite for Labor's top job.

Mr Fitzgibbon retained his seat on Saturday, but he suffered a 10 per cent swing against him.

In Shortland, Labor MP Pat Conroy retained his seat, but with a 5.8 per cent swing away.

And in Dobell, Labor's Emma McBride was elected for a second term, but with a 3 per cent swing away.

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