Stopping Adani’s dirty mine: Our politicians’ love affair with fossil fuels

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Human sign on the lawns of Parliament House Canberra, 10 August 2017 (image via Stop Adani / flickr).

Senior editor Michelle Pini reports on recent developments in the fight to stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine. 

IT IS HARD to think of another single environmental issue with the level of community backlash currently reserved for the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

IA has published a great deal about this project since it was first announced, with little evidence to suggest that the mine will benefit Australia since it threatens the environment, Queensland's water supply, the survival of the Great Barrier Reef and the tourism the Reef brings.

The Great Barrier Reef is both a natural wonder of the world and the world’s largest reef, with an estimated value of $56 billion and an annual economic contribution of $6.5 billion.

The mine will, of course, benefit the Adani corporation — a corporation with a financial and environmental track record that can, at best, be described as dubious.

Global warming has led to the worst coral bleaching on record in recent years, in which almost half the Great Barrier Reef's coral has died. This new mine will continue to fuel the conditions that are making the Reef sick and threaten 70,000 tourism jobs that rely on it.

The jobs and wealth creation it has promised to bring to Australia have been grossly overestimated at 10,000, when Adani's own report states it will create 1,400 jobs — to say nothing of its diversion of investment in renewable energy, where thousands of jobs are likely to be created. As well, Australia's major banks have refused to fund the project.

Certainly, the Coalition Government, under both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, has steadfastly ignored the growing domestic and international opposition to the mine.

In an email to IA today, Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg reiterated that the Government’s stance has not changed:

‘The Government supports the development of the Carmichael Mine and the jobs it will provide.’

Mr Frydenberg also ruled out the likelihood that the Government will heed the groundswell of community oppositon to the mine, stating:

'There is also significant approval for the mine not to mention from seven mayors (Labor and conservative) in northern Queensland.’

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s announcement yesterday (6 March) in which he opposed the Adani mine, has been welcomed by Stop Adani campainers and their supporters.

However, it seems each time the Stop Adani campaign has a win, some new development emerges allowing the project to forge ahead.

Indeed, Mr Shorten’s announcement seems to contradict the position of Queensland Labor with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk indicating: “the Government supports Adani as long as it financially stacks up … We have been clear about that from day one”.

ACF’s Stop Adani Campaigner Christian Slattery told IA:

Because of the activism of millions of ordinary Australians, Adani has struggled to find investors for their dirty coal mine. The principal reason the mine has not yet been stopped is the ongoing love affair between our political class and the fossil fuel industry.

To stop this coal mine, we need to continue growing our movement and demonstrate to our elected representatives that Australians want clean energy, not more dirty coal.

Mr Slattery welcomed Mr Shorten’s recent announcement of opposition to the Adani mine as signaling 'the loss of bipartisan Federal support for Adani', but added, 'Labor needs to commit to a clear pathway to stop Adani if they are elected.'

This was echoed in a media release by the National Director for Getup, Paul Oosting:

‘The choice for Federal Labor is to take a clear position against Adani now, or maintain its confused position and have the issue continue to plague the party all the way to the next federal election. Let’s remember, two thirds of Australia oppose this mine.’

Queensland Greens Senator and spokesperson for mining and resources, Andrew Bartlett told IA:

The fossil fuel industry has a stranglehold on our politics, via millions in donations and lobbyists who are often ex-ministers or high-level staffers. To stop Adani and future projects like it we need to break this stranglehold and kick the fossil fuel industry out of politics ...

... A coal mine is not the solution to unemployment in North Queensland. The policy the Greens took to the State election ... would invest $15 billion over the next five years building publicly-owned clean energy and storage. It would create 5,500 jobs every year. It’s a lie that politicians are supporting this mine because they’re concerned about unemployment, their real concern is keeping the fossil fuel donations flowing and making sure they have a well-paid lobbyist job when they retire.

You can follow senior editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9

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