Contributed from Townsville Queensland
Adani’s $21 billion coal controversial coal mine may not go ahead, if the decision now made by the Federal Court sticks.
Both state and federal governments were left scrambling for legal advice when the decision was handed down last Thursday. Attorney-General George Brandis, is reportedly considering whether to introduce new legislation to try and get the Adani mine going regardless.
Coal industry representatives hold that this could have a negative impact on the mining industry.
The decision was based on a finding of the full Federal Court, that native title agreements struck between mining companies and indigenous tribes since 2010, covering vast areas of the southwest of Western Australia may be invalid. The problem is that an agreement can be signed if only one of the named applicants signed, even if the other applicants are opposed. This has been challenged in several cases. The landmark decision concerned the challenge by the Noongar people brought against the West Australian government, where the full bench of the Federal Court upheld the case challenge. The agreement was deemed invalid.
For indigenous Australians, this has been a divisive condition, where a ruthless industry could pit groups against each other, on the promise of millions of dollars.
Adani has pressed the Queensland government not to let this stop his Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. The mining mogul is seeking his own legal advice.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also requested urgent advice on what impact the decision will have on billions of dollars-worth of development projects either completed, under way or planned.
Adani faces a strong possibility of significant delay as the legal mess is sorted out. A high Court challenge will take at least 12 months to process. For Adani, this will be costly and he has already indicated that further protracted delays would force him to walk away from the project. Given that opponents of the mine are proceeding with other legal cases, as part of a delaying strategy, the future of the mine is looking increasingly shaky.
But there is always the possibility that that the government will step in and change the law. Working against this is the likely political fallout, specially, since Adani’s companies are facing a few overseas corruption charges. A time when the call to get rid of corrupt politics is on the rise, is not the time for a politician to look like they are on the take