Coal mining conglomerate Adani are pushing ahead with the unpopular Carmichael mine despite significant opposition to the project.
Warnings of the devastating impact the mine will have on the Great Barrier Reef, and evidence suggesting the mine will not be viable, have failed to deter the company. Adani are seeking to ride roughshod over anyone who stands in their way and have the backing of many of Australia’s political class in doing so.
Activists have sustained pressure on Adani in opposition to their mega-project in Queensland’s Galilee basin. Protesters have successfully blockaded Adani’s offices in Townsville, halted trains carrying coal to the Adani run Abbot Point port terminal and held protests right across the country.
Adani have been denied loans from Chinese and Australian banks as well as the Australian taxpayer. However, they appear unflinching in their pursuit to exploit Queensland’s natural resources.
Unsurprisingly, some capitalists are taking the opportunity to profit where Adani has failed. Last month rail giant, Aurizon stepped forward to assist them in getting their rail connection and a $1 billion loan from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) in the bargain. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has attempted to deflect attention from the fact that Aurizon’s proposed line will directly benefit Adani.
Aurizon’s interest in the Galilee Basin project piqued following Queensland Labor’s decision to consider Adani ineligible from accessing funds via the NAIF. This type of maneuvering should come as no surprise to those familiar with Adani’s record of corruption and contempt for the people they have exploited over the years.
Until the recent Queensland state election, Labor supported Adani’s project. Their position changed somewhat in response to ordinary Queenslanders’ opposition to the mine and the risk of defeat at the last election, which they narrowly avoided.
It’s also worth noting that some reports suggest that Adani would have been deemed ineligible for NAIF funding regardless of Labor’s veto on it. Despite pressure from the federal government and the NAIF, Labor have, at the time of writing, yet to rule out facilitating the Adani mining project by providing other avenues of funding to Aurizon. Any Labor approved funding for the Carmichael mine, either directly or indirectly, should be regarded as a betrayal of the electorate and a crime against the environment.
Queenslanders have made their feelings on the matter clear through continued protest which forced Labor – in words at least – to feign some opposition to the mine.
Activist pressure also has placed one of Adani’s principle contractors, Downer, under significant pressure, resulting in them withdrawing from the project. Several traditional owners of the proposed site have also publicly stated that they were effectively marched to the negotiating table under threat of losing their native title rights.
Adani’s intransigence shows their utter contempt for Australia’s environment and its people. They are not unique in this respect and the recent targeting of GVK Hancock following their expression of interest in two other proposed mines should be welcomed. Coal is a dying industry and a growing number of ordinary people do not wish their economic and environmental future tied to it.
An alternative to jobs centered on the coal industry must be offered, particularly to those regional areas where high unemployment has become a generational scourge. There are any number of renewable energy projects, along with expanded public transport services, that could fulfil this task.
However, the capitalist system, with its mega-corporations who buy political influence and its chaotic lurching from crisis to crisis, is incapable of providing decent jobs and environmentally friendly alternatives.
Workers have a right to safe, sustainable and secure jobs. Through a democratically planned, socialist economy, real investment could be made in re-tooling old and dying industries and investing in renewables to produce and store power in a sustainable manner. These are the jobs the workers of regional Australia deserve.
By Eóin Dawson