Contributed from Queensland
The Queensland state government has buckled under the pressure to back Adani’s ongoing attempt to build the Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin.
If the project goes ahead, it will add significantly to Australia’s carbon print, damage the local environment (including Having an impact on the already stressed great Barrier Reef), and bring harm to the local economy., causing many more job losses than the few the mining operation promises to deliver.
Three days after the 28 May election, the Premier Annastacia Palasczuk ordered the clearing away of obstacles holding back approval of the mine and officials told to provide a framework within days.
She used the argument that Queenslanders had given their verdict, and that this means they want Adani to go ahead.
Reality is not so simple. It is true that in depressed economy of North Queensland, the focus of many people is on jobs. Also true, is that a great effort has been put into presenting the Carmichael mine as a saviour.
The state government has been part of this effort, and this has been backed by local elements of influence, who have succumbed to the sweet talk and a measure of bribery, free trips and gifts.
To say that the election result was a referendum on the coal mine is a distortion of the election result.
On 31 May, the government signed off on Adani environment management plan to protect the endangered Black Throated Finch. A three week period was set for the deadline to sort out the this and another environmental approval. The second is the groundwater management plan, which has until 13 June to be sorted out.
Experts have pointed out that the Adani plan for the Black Throated Finch is flawed, because it is based on moving the population from the mine site and relocating it in a nearby area, which does not have the conditions to sustain it. The species may well become extinct as a result.
Adani has a track record of ignoring its own commitments, when it comes to water management. Opponents point out that this is a company that can’t be trusted, and that this should be a major consideration in any government or court decision.
Proponents of the mine ignore that the foundations of the regional economy are agriculture and tourism. High volume use of groundwater will have a negative impact on agriculture. But the greatest effect would be on tourism, if the Great Barrier Reef is propelled towards its demise, and the local environment is damaged.
If the millions thrown into Adani’s pocket had instead been used to build the existing foundations of the local economy, there would be many more jobs than those that Adani is promising.
As a modern mining operation, Carmichael will be highly automated, and after a start up period, there will only be a handful of jobs. It does not make economic sense. Doubly so, when the global demand for coal is already showing signs of falling. This is reflected in falling prices. As other countries begin to switch to alternative energy sources, demand will begin to fall much more quickly.
Just as important is the loss that will be suffered by the traditional First Nation custodians of the land. They have been a critical component of the movement against the mine. They are fighting for the survival of their homelands.
Coordinator Barry Broe has been given the task of managing the resolution of the approvals, and he has a history of being pro-Adani, including the alleged threatening loss of native title, if mine is not approved by the traditional owners. Impartiality cannot be expected from this quarter.
Campaigners against Adani’s Carmichael mine insist that it can still be stopped, and it will continue to be challenged in and out of the courts.