Contributed from Queensland
Australia does not want Adani to operate a coal mine in Australia and the Australian and Queensland governments have an obligation to respect this. The longer they continue to deny this, the lower the standing these governments will have among Australians.
It looks like they are so mesmerised by Adani’s checkbook, and too bound up with protecting a dirty industry, that they cannot see past this.
Adani is an old hand, experienced in the use of bribery to obtain sweet deals. There have been allegations and more, that this card has been used in Australia. So far, what has come out is the used of gifts to politicians and junkets to India for those whose favours have been sought. If there have been more substantial brown bags under the table type corruption, we don’t know, except that it has happened in other places. It it’s happened here too, it will come out in time.
Whatever the details, Adani has such a bad name in Australia now, that he has not even been able to get finance from the banks, which fear, that being linked to this tycoon is bad for business.
Finally, the company claims it has turned to rely on self-financing and says it will soon begin construction, on a scaled down version of its original plan.
Now it seems like the same governments are falling in backward to accommodate the project. It’s not good enough. The whole operation must be stopped. Campaigners against Adani agree, and they are picking up their activity.
The Australian Conservation Foundation is launching a legal challenge over the allocation of water to the mine and the waiver of full environmental assessment, given by Environment Minister Melissa Price.
Video from The Australian Conservation Foundation
This will hold things up for a while. But this is only a small part of the campaign at this point. The greatest effort will continue to be to maintain a presence on the ground and to keep on building public opinion.
Being Labor, the Queensland government is a significant problem for the party nationally. Many, and this includes the party’s own base, want it and its leader Bill Shorten to come out clearly and sate a position that supports the public sentiment to stop Adani.
What the Queensland government is doing is a strategic dilemma for a party and leader moving towards an election campaign, and wishing to avoid a public stoush with its Queensland colleagues. Holding back and sitting on the fence is ultimately futile. The matter will not go away, and it will continue to sap the credibility of Labor.
Even if only for its own sake, Labor needs to act. The Adani issue is a major test on whether the party is going to look like being too tied to the big end of town, in the manner of the Coalition.
Failure to make a stand on Adani may not cost the election, but it could mean going into government with a question mark hanging overhead. Perhaps even a government coming into office not because it has inspired people towards a better future, but because enough just want to get rid of the other lot. This is not building on a firm foundation
In an environment where short life spans of governments and leaders is becoming the norm, this is not a good way to kick off, and risks the possibility of an alternative even worse than the present Coalition. This is worth thinking about.
The Adani coal mine ultimately requires federal approval to go ahead. The odds are that this decision will fall to Bill Shorten and his government.