Australian news, and some related international items

Adani coal project – a foolish useof tax-payers’ money

The Adani coal mine would be a poor use of our taxes, SMH, 15 Apr 17,  The Adani coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland looks like the Trump presidency did around this time last year: a bad idea with foreseeable bad consequences that may yet prove unstoppable.

In New Dehli this week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull met with billionaire Gautam Adani, whose company intends to seek a concessional loan of $900 million from the Australian taxpayer to support building the Carmichael coal mine, which would be Australia’s largest, with the express purpose of shipping coal to India.

The project will create “tens of thousands of jobs” and generate “an enormous amount” in taxes and in royalties, revenues for federal and state government”, the Prime Minister enthused. Meanwhile Barnaby Joyce has been banging the drum about how the coal will light up hundreds of thousands of poor households. In other words, lending our taxes to the billionaire proprietor would do India’s poor people a favour.

For now, new native title legislation that would remove one obstacle is blocked in the Senate, but the government is determined to fix that…….

It would be a very bad look indeed if the project goes ahead with the help of funds from the Australian public. It not only goes against this government’s belief in the wisdom of the free market, but would be yet another piece of embarrassing climate change denialism that sets us apart from more forward-thinking nations – including China and India – that are walking away from coal in favour of renewables.

The pivotal question for now is whether the project meets the eligibility criteria for a loan. The fact that the loan would only be available if the project couldn’t proceed otherwise (or would be seriously delayed) creates the bizarre situation that taxpayers are left footing the bill when commercial lenders baulk.

But it’s not up to politicians to decide whether Adani Mining gets the loan, although resources minister Matt Canavan, a strong supporter of the Carmichael mine, has the ultimate sign-off on disbursement of the loan funds. It’s up to the board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to make a fully independent assessment on commercial grounds. Taxpayers are entitled to expect the board to be scrupulously diligent in its decision.

To date more than a dozen banks and other funding sources have declared they won’t back the project or have pulled out of existing funding arrangements. The project’s opponents say it’s no longer financially viable, if it ever was. It augurs badly that India’s coal and power minister Piyush Goyal has repeatedly stated a goal to stop importing coal, even specifying a time frame of between two and three years, so Adani coal imports would be up against the tide.

Add to that ongoing Indian government investigations into Adani group companies, including for alleged profiteering on coal imported from Indonesia and for international tax arrangements, it’s clear the NAIF board has a lot to consider…….


April 15, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming

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