Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia should not throw away $1 billion on a destructive and doomed Adani coal project

The first stage currently being discussed involves a total investment of around $5 billion, of which the Australian public is supposed to contribute at least a $1 billion.

we may easily end up with the worst of all worlds: no royalties and few jobs for a project that will contribute massively to environmental destruction both locally and globally.

We shouldn’t throw it away on a doomed project that will leave us with, at best, a stranded asset and a legacy of massive environmental damage.

There are better things to spend $1 billion on than the Adani coal mine, Brisbane Times, John Quiggin, 18 May 17 

Ever since taking office, the Palaszczuk government has been walking a tightrope with respect to the Adani Group’s proposed Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin.

On the one hand, it’s obvious that the project is both environmentally disastrous and economically dubious. The government has been keen to avoid putting public money into this mess. On the other hand, if the project falls over, as still appears quite likely, the government is keen to avoid the blame.

The supposed benefits of 10,000 jobs and billions of dollars in royalties make an appealing case to voters at any time and particularly with the mining boom on the edge of failing. For most of the past 18 months, the government has managed the tightrope act successfully, but now it appears to be on the verge of falling. Adani is pushing for a ‘holiday’ from royalties, which might last as long as nine years. The project may go ahead if the government accepts, but the promised benefits to the Queensland public will disappear into the never-never.

The holiday is supposed to be temporary, but that’s unlikely.  The mine is always going to be marginal at best, so any attempt to extract royalties in the future, let alone collect those foregone during the holiday, will raise the threat of closure.  What government, having put so much into the project, would be willing to take the blame for its failure?

Meanwhile, the project proponents are still touting the 10,000 jobs.  Adani’s own expert admitted in court that the modelling techniques used to derive this number was unsound, and estimated the real figure at less than 1500.  But that number refers to the full version of the project, commonly described as involving an investment of $22 billion. With most major banks having rejected the projection, that version has been scrapped, or at least deferred indefinitely.

The first stage currently being discussed involves a total investment of around $5 billion, of which the Australian public is supposed to contribute at least a $1 billion. There doesn’t appear to be any public modelling of the jobs created by this cut-down proposal, but simple arithmetic suggests that the number is likely to be in the hundreds rather than the thousands, at least once the initial construction phase is over.

So, we may easily end up with the worst of all worlds: no royalties and few jobs for a project that will contribute massively to environmental destruction both locally and globally.

Even a few hundred jobs would make a positive difference to centres in regional Queensland.  But, with more than $1 billion of public money already on the table, and almost certainly more to come, we could do a lot better than subsidise a railway line and coal mine. The list of options is long, but it’s worth spelling out a few possibilities.

First, we could make a start on addressing the housing affordability with a return to building public housing. …

The world, including India, and even the Adani corporation itself, is moving away from coal at an accelerating rate. Rather than throw away huge sums of public money in an attempt to resist the future, we should be thinking about how best to manage it. Regional Queensland has vast potential, and, with a renewed willingness to undertake public investment, we have the chance to realise that potential.

We shouldn’t throw it away on a doomed project that will leave us with, at best, a stranded asset and a legacy of massive environmental damage.  John Quiggin is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow in Economics at the University of Queensland.http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/there-are-better-things-to-spend-1-billion-on-than-the-adani-coal-mine-20170519-gw9201.html

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May 20, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, Queensland

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