Contributed by Jim Hayes
Campaigners against the Adani coal mine have been given a boost. A significant contractor has been forced to shift into crisis mode. Association with Adani may not be good for business.
The more immediate cause of thgis crisis has been unrest within the company. This has been revealed by emails that have fallen into the hands of the ABC and aired today (24 October 2019).
This revelation comes as GHD’s offices are targeted around Australia.
The public broadcaster talked to two senior engineers and a former employee. They conformed the content of the emails. If true, staff are deeply concerned about what the company has got itself into, and many have communicated this to management.
GHD has held town hall meetings around the country, undoubtedly meant to be public relations exercises. But what they delivered is a great deal of questioning and outright opposition to the Adani project.
The company’s position is that it neither conforms, nor denies its involvement with Adani. Its internal register, however, clearly shows involvement in engineering aspects of the mine. The association began from at least 2010. In 2013, GHD wrote the key Environmental Impact Statement for the mine-and-associated rail project, and is the source of the misleading claim that the project would provide 10,000 jobs for Queensland.
Public admittance or no public admittance, GHD is being shaken by the impact on its organisational cohesion, and it might even eventually affect its bottom line.
Only weeks before, another contractor and major engineering company, Cardno, announced it would not continue working on the Carmichael mine. It was experiencing similar problems. And this was after yet another engineering company, Aurecon, broke all ties with Adani.
These two prior pull outs prompted Resources Minister Matt Canavan to call them “a bunch of bed-wetters,” and caused the Queensland Resources Council, which represents mining interests in the state, to state through its chief Ian Macfarlane:
“My advice to companies is to show some courage and to be aware that the activists are trying to infiltrate your organisations and make sure that your own IP
and the security systems you run are up to scratch.”
The statement included a threat to put companies that pull out on a blacklist.
“Resources companies simply can’t be expected to partner with fair-weather friends or businesses who let activists call the shots,” Macfarlane said.
Whether GHD will pull out or continue its relationship with Adani is nor clear yet.
Adani responded to these setbacks by repeating its mantra of not being intimidated by protesters.
Targeting businesses that deal with Adani has been effective. It has produced results. The strategy was a major factor behind the four big banks deciding that they would not provide the finance needed to carry the works through.
For those who believe that the cost of the mine is far too high, and the evidence suggest that they’re right, the strategy is entirely justifiable. If allowed, Adani’s mine will contribute significantly to Australia’s carbon footprint.
Seeing that the problem of carbon emissions is not just about one project, because it also concerns an economy that is hard wired into fossil fuels, change requires a breaking of the linkages. All sectors must be part of the change, whether connected through the supply chain, providing finance, or being end users.
Contrary to the claim, the Carmichael mine and its link to the Abbot Point terminal is not a done deal.
Pressure on GHD and others seems to be working. It has to be sustained. What is a big worry is that Palmer is starting to make a push. Starting to “call in” his election debts. He didn’t simply GIVE $60 million to the LNP. It may not have been apparent at the time but all those yellow billboards had a price tag attached.