Coal exports could be new trade war victim
There is government concern coal exporters could be the latest victim of Australia's trade war with China as the issue creates disunity in Labor ranks.
The Chinese government is reportedly warning state-owned power plants not to buy new shipments of Australian thermal coal and instead favour domestic products.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told reporters in Canberra on Friday the trade minister and diplomats were working to fix the issues.
While he acknowledged the government was concerned, he said China needed Australia as much as we needed our largest trading partner.
Trade tensions have embroiled Australia's barley and beef industry, with Beijing angered by Canberra's call for an international inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.
China has also announced new supervising rules for iron ore, but opinion is divided on its impact for Australian exporters.
Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has accused the government of demonising China and its communist government.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese dodged questions from reporters in Sydney about Mr Fitzgibbon's comments but admitted they hadn't spoken.
Asked if he had an issue with Mr Fitzgibbon freelancing on China, Mr Albanese said: "I speak on behalf of the Labor Party."
Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud said Mr Fitzgibbon was openly undermining his boss and should get the sack.
Originally published as Coal exports could be new trade war victim