Construction began on the controversial Adani coal mine in June after the project received its final environmental approval. Other environmental approvals are still required before coal can start to be mined, but it’s likely they too will be a sham designed to wave the project through.
For example, the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, connected to the Great Artesian Basin, and the endangered Black-throated finch are under direct threat from the mine, yet approval was given by the Palaszczuk state Labor government at the behest of the company.
It is blatantly clear that Adani also tried to influence the CSIRO scientists involved in the review of its groundwater plan. The company demanded the federal government hand over the names of the scientists claiming they could be “activists with a political agenda”.
Adani has attempted to discredit the work of scientists involved in other environmental reviews of the mine. No doubt the demand for names was an attempt to intimate or discredit those involved.
Sam Popovski, secretary of the CSIRO staff association (a section of the Community and Public Sector Union) said it was the “first time it’s come to our attention that names of scientists involved in a scientific process have been requested”. In other words, this intrusion into the review process by Adani is unprecedented.
Since construction commenced activists opposed to the mine have begun targeting companies bidding for work on the project. This is a welcome move. All those who plan to profit from the environmental destruction the mine will cause should be exposed.
Direct action aimed at disrupting and preventing work on the mine, and its rail link, should be supported by all those who want to address climate change and protect the unique area around the Galilee Basin.
Already these tactics have forced Adani to stop publicly naming its contractors. But workers from the companies involved have leaked information to activists, counteracting Adani’s blackout.
While the Adani mine is the focus right now, it’s not the only project that threatens the Galilee Basin. A number of other coal mines are at the planning stage, and proposals have been put forward to open up the area to coal seam gas extraction, otherwise known as fracking.
Two companies, AGL and Comet Ridge, want to pursue fracking which would endanger the Great Artesian Basin via water contamination, while also emitting tons of extra greenhouse gas. Gas could be flowing out of the area within three years unless these companies are stopped.
But both the major parties support these types of developments. At the last election Labor promised $1.5 billion for pipelines to the Galilee Basin and the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory. There is a desperate need for a political alternative that supports an end to fossil fuel extraction and an urgent transition to renewables.
Ongoing fossil fuel projects make it impossible to keep global warming in check. But the long-term interests of people and the planet are of no concern to the major parties who firmly represent big business.
A report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis published in August found that the Adani mine is not even economically viable without government handouts. The company is the recipient of huge subsidies such as fuel tax credits and tax concessions. This is on top of already low corporate tax rates. All up state and federal governments are giving Adani at least $4.4 billion in benefits. This is while they say they can’t afford to increase Newstart payments.
It is clear that people are starting to see through the lies, and to work out the real motivations of the major parties. The September 20 school strike saw over 330,000 people protest against climate change throughout Australia. Many carried signs opposing Adani.
It’s up to ordinary workers and students to continue taking action against the climate criminals. Mass action, can stop destructive projects but we need to go further.
Climate activists must fight for a just socialist transition to renewable energy. This means bringing into public hands the big mining and energy firms and introducing a democratic plan to move to a zero emissions economy while protecting jobs and regional communities.
By Dane Letcher