Australian news, and some related international items

Political risk for Turnbull in pandering to Big Coal over Adani mine

Turnbull’s foolish gamble to pander to Big Fossil over Adani coal mine, SMH,  Crispin Hull , 1 May 17,  Is Malcolm Turnbull determined to lose the 2019 election? His statement this week that the government could underwrite the rail line for the Adani mine would have increased the anger among small businesses in the six reef seats.

They are already reeling from two destructive bouts of cyclones and floods and see their long-term future horribly compromised by coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. So along comes the Prime Minister giving support to the one thing that most threatens their livelihoods – the proposed massive Adani central Queensland thermal-coal mine.

Two of the Reef Seats are the most marginal in the Parliament: Labor holds Townsville-based Herbert by just 0.02 per cent and the LNP holds Capricornia by just 0.63 per cent. Three others are held by the LNP by under 4 per cent: Flynn on 1.04 per cent; Dawson on 3.34 per cent; and Leichhardt on 3.95 per cent. The other reef seat, Kennedy, is comfortably held by Bob Katter who heads his own party.

Turnbull is deluded if he imagines the plaudits he gets from big business and “Big Fossil” will outweigh the opprobrium and fury he will create among the thousands of small businesses that depend on the Great Barrier Reef.

I went to a meting about the mine in Port Douglas this week. There was a strong under-current of: “I am no tree-hugging greenie, but my small business is under threat for no good reason.”

All of the Reef Seats have coastal towns and cities (or parts of a city) that are more dependent on tourism and agriculture than mining, which threatens both. Mining always exaggerates the jobs it creates. It likes to pretend the short-term establishment jobs last through the whole project. Adani is a case in point. Better estimates suggest that Adani will create just 1400 full-time equivalent jobs through the life of the mine. But even exaggerated mining claims are dwarfed by tourism employment.

The Great Barrier Reef provides 69,000 full-time-equivalent jobs directly and indirectly. According to a 2013 report to the federal government, “A high proportion of the value-added and employment generated emanates from tourism activity, with almost $5.2 billion in value added and about 64,000 FTEs generated by the tourism sector.”……..

Queensland Labor seems to want to tick all the Adani approval boxes before the next state election. Federal Labor, which opposes funding the railway, should go further if it wants to cement in five of the critical Reef Seats. It should promise to ban the mining of thermal coal in Australia by refusing export licences. That alone would put a stop to Adani.


May 1, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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