Barrier-Reef-trashing monster coal mine to get a billion dollar tax handout

Don't risk the reef!

News has just broken that the coal-addicted right-of-centre Australian government is likely to break its pledge not to fund the proposed Adani monster coal mine in Queensland. This means that Adani's unbankable, Great-Barrier-Reef-trashing mine is one step closer, with preliminary approval being granted for the federal government to hand over a billion taxpayer dollars for a nearly 400km rail corridor to serve the mine. Campaigning for the 2 July election, which returned him with a one-seat majority, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on camera that there would be no public money for Adani's mine. Green groups are fuming.


Protest rallies are being called this week in Melbourne and Townsville where billionaire Gautam Adani, the CEO of the globally operating and environmentally vandalising Adani group will visit. In Melbourne he’s meeting with Turnbull, in Townsville with the Labor premier of Queensland, Anastasia Palaszczuk.


Palaszczuk is under pressure to create jobs, with local governments across central and north Queensland unified in their support for the Adani mine. A miners and energy workers union also wants it to go ahead.


The proposed coal and rail project comprises six open-cut and five underground mines, covering more than 200 square kilometres, a 388km rail line and a new terminal at Abbot Point Port near Bowen. The largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world, the $21 billion project would trigger around 60 million tonnes of emissions a year from coal exported to India to produce power. A group called ←350 calls it “the most insane coal project in the world”.


To be located on land in central-western Queensland, over which the Wangan and Jagalingou Aboriginal people have a native title claim, this would be Australia’s biggest coal mine and one of the biggest in the world. The Aboriginal group is strongly resisting the project, and because of the potential damage to the already badly damaged Reef so are many non-indigenous groups across Australia.


The Aborigines have several court cases running and say the mine would “rip the heart out of our country” and destroy their culture.


Turnbull is meeting with Gautam Adani (Mr Adani himself) on Monday. Protesters will sting Turnbull that giving in would be a public relations nightmare for his increasingly unpopular government. Adani is set to make another announcement with Queensland Premier Palaszczuk in Townsville on Tuesday. 


“With polling numbers as dismal as Turnbull's are right now, he's going to have a lot of nervous backbenchers on his hands,” suggests the million-strong activist group, GetUp!, which is running a signature drive 

Another petition is being run by the Australian Conservation Foundation, which writes: “When Mr Adani puts on the hard word, we need Malcolm Turnbull to know – we won't accept giving a billion dollars of public funding to a billionaire's company creating billions of tonnes of pollution. Mr Adani has a mining licence, but he will never have a social licence. Sign the petition calling on Malcolm Turnbull to put Adani's requests for publicly-funded subsidies in the bin.” 


“It seems Prime Minister Turnbull is preparing to put the interests of big polluters ahead of the interests of the Australian people and misuse a billion dollars of public money to support the mega-polluting Carmichael coal project,” said ACF CEO, Kelly O’Shanassy.


“This would be a serious misuse of public money, a breach of previous assurances. If Adani is unable to fund the mine, Australia will be left with a railway to nowhere and an unpaid billion dollar loan,” Ms O’Shanassy said.


“Prime Minister Turnbull can choose to entrench Australia’s dependence on a dirty, declining industry or protect the reef and steer us to a brighter, cleaner future. Any investment in coal in the 21st Century is a dud investment. Australians will lose this money and it will fund the death of the much-loved Great Barrier Reef."


The Australian Marine Conservation Society sees the Turnbull government “totally out of touch with public opinion on this issue” and signing “the death knell for our Reef”.


“A poll just released yesterday commissioned by AMCS and WWF Australia shows that more than two thirds of Australians believe the condition of the Reef should be declared a ‘national emergency’. The same poll found that more than three quarters of Australians think Adani’s Carmichael coal mine will have some or a major impact on the Reef if it is allowed to go ahead.

“Poll after poll has shown that Australians do not support their money being used to prop up foreign owned mining companies such as Adani.”


GetUp! say they’ve heard that the Adani corporation will decide in four months whether to double down on the Queensland project or quietly walk away. They have designs to start construction in September next year, but the company is buried in debt. One billion dollars in taxpayer-funded finance would be just the thing to help them lure back the big four banks that protesters have worked hard to warn off.


The Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters said funding the project would “condemn the reef to worse bleaching and jeopardise the 70,000 jobs it provides”. Waters criticised the state government for “creating loopholes for Adani and fast-tracking this disastrous project”.


Queensland passed laws on November 10 that require miners to get a water licence to extract groundwater, but it exempted Adani from the rules in a last-minute amendment. The exemption prevents Queenslanders from fighting an immense water grab by Adani.


The ←350 group argues that the Adani mine would “draw so much water (12.5 billion tonnes of water/year) that it will lower the water table  beyond the boundary of the mine by as much as 20-50m. The same amount of water would be provide drinking water to the entire population of Queensland for three years!”


Several companies are lining up to invest in the coal-rich Galilee Basin who may also chip in for the rail project, including GVK Hancock, a joint Indian venture with Hancock Prospecting, and Clive Palmer’s China First Mine.



There are currently nine coal mega-mines proposed for the Galilee Basin, which together make it the second biggest fossil fuel expansion proposed anywhere in the world (after Western China). At full production, the proposed Galilee Basin projects would double Australia’s coal exports to over 600 million tonnes a year. 


The development of the Galilee Basin is the driver for the proposed expansion of coal ports along the Great Barrier Reef coast, which is causing international concern.


A recent report said mining Australia’s untapped coal reserves, including the Galilee Basin, could produce enough emissions to push global warming beyond 2C.


To avoid UNESCO putting the Reef on its world heritage in-danger list, the government is putting out euphemistic reports on its condition. Three experts at the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville (Jon C Day, Alana Grech, Jon Brodie) argue that “certainly the true picture is more complicated and dire than the most recent government reports imply.”


The worst-known bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef demonstrates the limitations of the Reef 2050 Plan, which is silent on the impact of greenhouse emissions from Queensland’s coalmines and the effects of climate change more generally.


“As the world heritage committee prepares for its next meeting in July 2017, and considers once again whether to officially list the reef as in danger, it will need to study all the evidence, not just the government’s reports.


“The government hopes its latest reports will keep the reef off Unesco’s world heritage in-danger list. But protecting the reef for future generations involves addressing the threat posed by climate change.


“Listing the reef as world heritage in danger won’t in itself fix the problems – but it will certainly focus the spotlight on the issues.


The Australian government’s apparent intention in releasing five recent reports is to reassure Unesco that the Great Barrier Reef should not be listed as “world heritage in danger” (as the world heritage committee has previously threatened).


“Sadly, behind the verbosity and colour of these reports, there is disappointingly little evidence of progress in the key areas needed to make a significant difference to a world heritage area that is in crisis.


“Governments have an obligation to protect all the reef’s values for future generations. To do this they must recognise growing global moves to address climate change, and the widespread national and international expectations that more needs to be done to protect the reef.”

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Watch and share the video – because the people need to know the truth!

“We stand in the way” of Adani mine say Traditional Owners


December 5, 2016


Traditional Owners Seek urgent meeting with Gautam Adani after filing objection to Carmichael mine Land Use Agreement. 

Injunction will be used to block any attempt to impose a deal

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council have sought an urgent meeting with the Chairman of the Adani Group, Mr Gautam Adani during his sudden visit to Australia to meet the Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier. They have also announced that they filed documents contesting registration of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement which purports to authorise the Adani mine.

This morning W&J rejected the choreographed excitement of an announcement declaring Adani is at ‘final approval stage’, reminding the company and the Queensland Mining Minister Lynham that they oppose the project. They also slammed the Turnbull government for earmarking $1 billion in Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) funding for rail to facilitate the mine.

Leading Aboriginal rights advocate, senior W&J Traditional Owner and Council spokesperson, Mr Adrian Burragubba, speaking from his country in Clermont says, “The Queensland and Federal governments have knowingly overlooked that we stand in the way of this mine and when we say ‘no’ we mean no. Through our legal actions we are intent on stopping this massive and destructive project from moving forward.”

A letter sent on behalf of the W&J Council by Mr Burragubba and youth leader and spokesperson, Ms Murrawah Johnson, told Mr Adani that the W&J had rejected an agreement with Adani Mining Pty Ltd and the State in authorisation meetings on three occasions and that Adani Mining had “engaged in divisive and dubious conduct to secure approval from our people – going so far as to purport to have gained our consent from a meeting you funded in April this year.”

Members of the W&J Council filed evidence and statements on Friday with the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) opposing any attempt to register Adani Mining’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) which the company claims to have made with the W&J people to allow the Carmichael coal and rail project.

Mr Burragubba says, “The Council has confirmed their position of rejecting this sham land deal with the local subsidiary of the Indian corporate giant Adani, and taken appropriate legal action to prevent the agreement from taking effect. Three times since 2012 our people have voted to reject Adani’s deal which will destroy our ancestral lands and culture. We are acting on our resolution to say no to this dangerous coal mining project”.

In their objection to the ILUA, submitted to the NNTT, lawyers for members of the W&J claim group described the meeting that purported to authorise the agreement as “a sham” and put forward detailed materials to show that the meeting was “composed of a ‘rent a crowd’ of persons who had never previously identified as Wangan and Jagalingou”.

Lawyer for the objectors, Mr Colin Hardie says, “The ‘agreement’ was produced by Adani Mining Pty Ltd and signed by the Queensland Government following what appears to be a stacked meeting, which Adani Mining organised and paid for in April this year. My clients will fight registration of this dubious ILUA every step of the way, including seeking an injunction to stop its registration”.

In March, the W&J held a claim group meeting at which they resolved to reject all dealings with Adani Mining, and replace several members of the native title applicant who took payments from Adani Mining to attend meetings designed to engineer a land deal, over the previous rejection of the W&J claim group. See Guardian story for background.

Ms Murrawah Johnson says, “Adani Mining has attempted, with State government backing, to divide our community and force a land use deal on the W&J people, working behind the scenes to buy us off using empty promises about the jobs and economic benefits the project will bring”.


Further background to legal action afoot


The objection to the ILUA follows a hearing in the Federal Court before his Honour Justice Reeves last Tuesday, 29th November.  The application was for new W&J representatives to be appointed by the court as Applicants to replace the present Applicant in the W&J native title claim on behalf of the W&J claim group.

In argument and affidavits before the court, W&J lawyers established that the meeting paid for and arranged by Adani Mining on April 16 could not rescind the decisions of the community controlled W&J meeting held on March 19, which voted to remove members of the Applicant who had received payments from Adani Mining, and rejected further dealings with the company.

Justice Reeves reserved his decision in the matter.

The judicial review in the matter of the NNTT’s approval of the issuing of mining leases by Minister Lynham is set for a hearing in the Full Bench of the Federal Court in February 2017.

Announcement of further legal actions will be made on Wednesday.

For more information and to arrange interviews: Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor –  0418 152 743


W&J website:

Murrawah Johnson, a spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, tells a Brisbane community radio station (Part 1) about how she travelled around the world last year lobbying banks not to fund this mine. Part 2.

Analysts says $1bn loan proposal shows lack of financier interest and Adani may not meet investment criteria due to public funding being ‘not critical’'. A former Citibank analyst now with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said the Carmichael mine was at clear risk of being a “stranded asset”.

Government must not support a project whose economics are too weak to obtain the funds needed from the commercial banking sector and which will destroy swathes of our most productive farmland. If the government's aim is to use subsidies to create jobs, then supporting Adani will be a waste of money. There are not many jobs in modern, highly automated mining.

Increased use of automation at mining sites such as Adani's Carmichael coal mine will push jobs away from the coal face and into larger cities, a Queensland academic has warned. It could spell trouble for regional Queensland, with many centres already struggling with high unemployment after the end of the state's mining boom.