Contributed by Ben Wilson
Last Friday and in the middle of an election campaign, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that her government will veto the federal government’s $1 billion offer to Adani, to help build the railway link between his Carmichael coal mine and the Abbot Point port on the coast.
This turnaround, from unquestioning and total support, is testimony to the strength of the community campaign that has been relentless, encompassing concern about the contribution to climate warming carbon emissions, the threat to the Great Barrier Reef, the misuse of indigenous land, damage to farming land and the likely negative economic impact.
Community awareness and opposition have grown to the extent that the government is in serious risk of losing office and a significant portion of its traditional support base, could transfer to the Greens.
The government’s pro-Adani position had also alienated many of the Labor Party’s members, who have been campaigning for a change.
Capacity for the Liberal National Party opposition to benefit from this is limited, because it has been and continues to be even more pro-Adani. This is likely to benefit One Nation. Much of its base does not want the Adani projects to go ahead either, even if Pauline Hanson makes noises in the opposite direction.
Far from meaning that the battle is over, this is just another step and rather than abating, the campaign is stepping up. Although more isolated, the supporters of Adani are still formidable.
Post election and whoever wins, pressure to stop the $1 billion loan will continue. So will the effort to extend pressure on financial institutions not to come up with the cash. The Adani companies already have a $2 billion debt over the Abbot Point terminal and since this debt is almost due, need to borrow the funds to pay it. Failure to secure this has the potential to knock the project out of the water.