The West

Shorten talks up the power of the west
Federal Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten at The West Australian's Leadership Matters breakfast this morning. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has attempted to rebuild bridges with Western Australia's major mining identities, admitting to past Labor mistakes while touting Perth as the iron ore capital of the world.

In a speech attended by many of WA's major resources companies, Mr Shorten attempted to heal the old wounds of the mining tax while talking up the potential of the west to lead a "new wave" of national prosperity.

"I want Labor to help foster that (resources) success ... and I acknowledge the previous government did not always get it right in this area," Mr Shorten said.

"The extent of our dialogue did not match the size of the rapport. This is not a mistake I intend to repeat."

In a conciliatory speech, Mr Shorten said WA's business ambition should not wane, even given recent job losses and slowdown in the resources industries.

"Why shouldn't we be the mining capital of the world? Not just iron ore, but metal, copper, LNG and floating LNG," Mr Shorten said.

"The quantity and quality of Australia's national gas reserves can help us make a world resources capital - in Perth.

"To make Perth what Houston and Aberdeen are to oil and gas. This is possible with the right leadership."

On his second trip west as opposition leader, Mr Shorten even had some praise for the state Liberal government led by Colin Barnett, whose recent trade visit to Africa was applauded.

And he addressed how Labor intended to overcome a disastrous showing in the last federal election, in which their popular vote in WA fell to under 30 per cent.

"Labor in the last term had some good ideas, but the implementation of them was rugged and in some cases misconceived," Mr Shorten said.

"Our challenge is to demonstrate to West Australians that we are in touch with the lives they are leading."


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