MUNGO MACCALLUM: Morrison and the Adani lesson

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Thousands of school children take a stand against climate change across Australia (Image via Australian Conservation Foundation)

The future is not on the side of Adani or the PM, as the groundswell of youth leading the charge against climate change clearly shows.

YET AGAIN we are assured that the Adani mine is going ahead — Adani Lite, they’ll only put it in a little way and if it hurts, well, they’ll just see how far they can keep shoving.

The promise – the threat – is that operations will begin by the end of the year, but we have seen Adani’s delusional optimism many times.

Apart from the still unresolved environmental issues, there are serious doubts about the economics of the proposal even in its cut down form.

The idea, apparently, is that it will be of, by and for Adani — no external finances, the coal going exclusively to Adani’s own generators in India and no government assistance. Well, none apart from a royalty holiday from the Queensland Government and the infrastructure already built, largely on behalf of Adani, like particularly the Abbot Point port.

But according to the experts, this will still not break even, so Adani may have a few more tricks to play. But the coal-lovers are not fazed: there will be jobs, jobs, jobs. Not, admittedly, the wildly exaggerated claim of 10,000 under the original idea, but at least a few.

And this was enough for our Resources Minister Matt Canavan who absurdly praised the Indian megacorp “a little Aussie battler”. But even he must have been aware that there were a few real Aussie battlers still ready and willing to resist.

The miners will not be relaxed and comfortable. Protests are already planned and if they are not enough, there is another generation ready to fill the gap, and given it is their future – not that of the ageing reactionaries in Canberra – that is at stake, they are even more passionate than their elders.

The schoolchildren’s crusade on Friday was immediately dismissed and denigrated by Canavan who said that by missing one day of classes, the kids were heading straight to the dole queue.

PM Scott Morrison said they should be learning, not acting — the classroom was not a parliament.

True, but unfortunate, because most of the students involved are clearly more literate and numerate about climate change than the majority of politicians. And of course, their time will come.

But in the meantime, the demand that they should shut up and be obedient little conservatives is both condescending and offensive. One lofty line was that they are far too young and immature to know what they were doing — these are teenagers who deal with complex ideas every day, not only at school but in everyday life.

I know, because my granddaughter is one of them. She knew exactly what she was doing and why and she intends to keep on doing it until the politicians listen – if not this time, then the next and the next, and the next. Adani may or may not start digging before Christmas, but it would be most unwise to make long-term plans.

The future is not on its side — or, for that matter, Morrison’s. One might have thought that the last few weeks of Wentworth and Victoria had confirmed that.

Our vacuous marketeer leader is the one who needs to pay attention to his education.

Mungo MacCallum is a veteran journalist who worked for many years in the Canberra Press Gallery. This article was published on 'Pearls and Irritations' and is republished with permission.


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