Despite being rejected by the banks, blocked from accessing $1 billion of taxpayer money, and losing major partners in their Galilee Basin project, Adani’s Carmichael mine remains hanging over the head of the Australian people.
Having invested heavily in the project already and been offered incredible terms from federal and state governments, Adani show no signs of giving up. They retain their assets related to the project, importantly the Abbott Point Coal Terminal.
They also retain a handout of unlimited access to groundwater for the duration of their 60 year licence, despite their repeated failure to comply with the conditions of their current operating licence for the Abbott Point Storm Water Dam. They also still have the option of a 4 year royalty deferral gifted to them by the Queensland state Labor government. Not to mention the fuel subsidies, $2.5 billion of which were handed out to the mining industry last year.
Incredibly, the federal government’s rotten role in the Adani saga was shown to go even deeper earlier this year. It was revealed that the federal Environment Department chose not to prosecute Adani following their failure to disclose their Australian chief executive’s part in the criminal discharge of a large quantity of toxic chemicals into the Kafue River in Zambia. This event resulted in local people becoming ill and the devastation of farmland for a decade afterward.
The revelation of the government allowing this lie of omission to slide comes as the Queensland state government pursue Adani over allegations that they attempted to conceal the full amount of coal-polluted water discharged into the Caley Valley Wetlands last year, going so far as to redact a laboratory report demonstrating levels of contamination eight times higher than claimed. The reason for their chicanery: avoiding a mere $12,000 fine for their multi-billion dollar venture.
It is clear that neither Adani nor their political allies will be convinced, by lobbying or rational argument. Much more pressure needs to be heaped on the powers that be. The establishment of the Stop Adani camp in Bowen, North Queensland is an important development.
It provides a base for monitoring mining activity in the area and opportunities for direct action against companies involved in the project. However, this too is somewhat limited in its ability to put the final nail in the coffin of the Carmichael project.
A final push is needed to send the message to both Adani and their political and business acolytes that we will not allow our economic and environmental fortunes to be tied to coal. While many unions are opposed to the mine, the union best positioned to block it and draw together the strongest possible campaign, the CFMEU, support the mine and have stated that it’s “just another project”.
The CFMEU also scolded Labor for making some critical comments about the mine, saying that while this may help their chances in the upcoming Batman by-election in Melbourne, they would lose seats in Queensland if they shifted their position to oppose the mine.
If the mine is to be defeated an alternative to the much-touted jobs boost for regional Queensland must be offered. Labor has long since shifted its sights from such alternatives, preferring instead to leave ordinary people to the ravages of the capitalist free market.
The socialist alternative to mega-mines like that proposed by Adani is investment in sustainable jobs. Instead of relying on the market, publicly owned and operated renewable energy projects could create thousands of jobs, cut energy prices and contribute to reaching climate targets. Further investment could be made in developing sustainable tourism on the Great Barrier Reef (whose very existence is threatened by projects like the Carmichael mine) and elsewhere.
Only such radical demands can draw in the support needed to finally send Adani packing. Defeating Adani would be a crucial win, sending a clear message that Australia’s environmental riches are not for sale. At present numerous companies are lining up to exploit Australian resources, from the Galilee Basin to the Great Australian Bight. Only a socialist solution to joblessness and environmental destruction can provide us with a decent future.
By Eóin Dawson