The battle over Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin is continuing. On one side are the billionaires seeking public subsidies to exploit natural resources, destroying farms, polluting water supplies and further damaging the already fragile Great Barrier Reef.
On the other side are the activists and the hundreds of thousands of workers and their families who depend on the land, water and the Reef to keep them in work.
The Australia Institute’s chief economist, Richard Denniss, pointed out that, “with enough public subsidies, any project can be rendered profitable”.
The Adani mine has been rejected by dozens of potential investors who have labelled it “unsustainable”, yet the company still hold out hope that public subsidies will be forthcoming. This is why they say they remain “100% committed to the Carmichael project”. We must fight for an end to taxpayer handouts to Adani, and to all billionaires.
Adani are not the only billionaires going cap in hand to the Australian government. They are just the first in a line of half a dozen or more billionaire bludgers, including the infamous Clive Palmer, who want taxpayer subsidies to fund their pet coal projects.
Palmer’s own Galilee basin project, Alpha North, is estimated to be triple the size of Adani’s and the largest project of its type ever proposed in Australia. If allowed to go ahead, these mines will decimate the region.
Taxpayers already shell out billions each year in fuel subsidies to the mining industry. On top of this companies are offered bonuses such as the unlimited 60-year water rights granted to Adani for the Carmichael mine. These so-called capitalist “investors” are in fact using the generous terms offered to them to turn financial non-starters into “profitable” enterprises.
It is now clear that Adani’s Carmichael mine is less about ‘creating jobs’ and more about billionaires proving a point. Adani’s refusal to abandon the project despite the widespread opposition it faces has become a test case to see how far the public, who increasingly oppose the project, will go to stop it, and more importantly how committed the politicians are to protecting corporate interests.
The Coalition have made their case loud and clear; corporate profits come first, no matter the cost. Labor however are on the fence, trying to present themselves as environmentalists while also ensuring that their billionaire backers see them as a safe bet for the next government.
However, as the saying goes, you can’t ride two horses with one ass. Labor cannot represent the interest of ordinary people as well as those who seek to exploit them.
Initiatives by activists such as the Beyond Coal and Gas Jamboree held on the Sunshine Coast in May/June are to be welcomed. In reality it is activists such as these who have held Adani and their acolytes back this long.
So too have the activists of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council, who capitalised on Adani’s bulldozer approach to land rights, tying them up in legal proceedings and pledging to go all the way to the High Court.
As important as these actions have been, there is a growing understanding within the broader ‘Stop Adani’ movement that a series of small blows against the project will not be enough. We need to fight for an alternative, not just to fossil fuels, but to profit-driven capitalism as a whole.
The socialist alternative to fossil fuels is publicly owned renewable energy, democratically run by and in the interests of ordinary people. This alternative is sustainable, creates thousands of green jobs, and is independent of corporations and greedy billionaires.
With the increased viability of renewable power systems, more and more people and indeed nations, are turning away from fossil fuels. Even India, touted as the major buyer for Galilee Basin coal, is moving towards small scale, local power generation based on renewables.
By roundly defeating Adani’s Carmichael mine, and the potential cascade of similar projects, a message can be sent to billionaire exploiters here and overseas; we will not stand for the exploitation of our people and environment.
Now is the time to step up the campaign to stop Adani. At the same time, we must begin the discussion about what a sustainable future looks like and, most importantly, in whose interests it will be run.
By Eóin Dawson