Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Federal Inquiry needed: Adani should be questioned on history on environment and ‘allegations of fraud, corruption

Push for Adani to appear before Senate inquiry into infrastructure fund https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jun/15/push-for-adani-to-appear-before-senate-inquiry-into-infrastructure-fund  Greens say miner should be grilled on environmental history and ‘allegations of fraud, corruption and the use of tax havens’, Guardian, Joshua Robertson 15 June 17The Greens will push for Adani to front a federal Senate inquiry into Australia’s infrastructure fund and “grill” the miner on its overseas environmental and business record.

The Senate on Wednesday passed a motion for an inquiry into the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is considering a $900m concessional loan to Adani for a railway as part of its massive proposed Queensland coal project.

The Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters said she would seek to have Adani appear before the inquiry to “grill them” on their environmental history and “the allegations of fraud, corruption and the use of tax havens”.

Waters said the company would be asked why it needed “a billion taxpayer dollars” if the mine, which would export up to 60m tonnes of coal a year to Asia, was financially viable.

A spokesman for Adani, which has denied any wrongdoing in relation to claims of invoicing fraud under investigation in India, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The inquiry motion came a day after reports emerged that Adani Enterprises, the parent company of the Australian mine venture, had been in talks about establishing a weapons venture with an arms business that had earlier been banned in India amid a corruption probe. An Adani spokesman told the Economic Times of India that the company abandoned early talks with the arms business as it was not comfortable with the idea.

The motion was passed with Labor and Greens support in the face of opposition by the government.

The inquiry, to be run by the economics references committee, will examine the “adequacy and transparency” of the $5b infrastructure fund’s project assessment and approval processes.

It will also scrutinise processes around Naif board appointments, including assessments of conflict of interest, and policies to manage these.

Jason Clare, the Labor shadow minister for resources and northern Australia, told parliament there had been a “cover up” around governance questions surrounding a Naif board member, Karla Way-McPhail.

Clare said an estimates hearing a fortnight ago had established that Way-McPhail, the CEO of two mining services companies that could benefit from Adani’s success, was a “personal friend” of the minister overseeing the Naif, Matthew Canavan, and was put forward by him as a board candidate.

“And this government refuses to say whether she was in the room for [Naif board] discussions about these projects or whether she recused herself,” Clare said.

Governance questions like that had prompted the inquiry and a separate Labor call for the Australian National Audit Office to investigate NAIF, he said.

The inquiry will look at the adequacy of Naif’s investment mandate, risk appetite statement and public interest test guiding decisions of its board.

It will also examine the role of state and territory governments, and any agreements with the federal government, around the fund.

Waters claimed the NAIF was “not about encouraging investment in Northern Australia” but “creating a slush fund to prop up the dying coal industry”.

Clare said it was a “fair bet” that Pippa Middleton’s Northern Territory honeymoon would “probably deliver more economic development to the north” than the Naif in its first two years.

No projects had yet been funded yet more than $600,000 had been spent on salaries and expenses for board members, he said.

“All we know is that over the last two years they have had 119 enquires for funding, they are apparently considering 60 active deals, but there are only four that are currently subject to due diligence.”

A spokeswoman for Canavan said: “The NAIF is accountable to the parliament and will cooperate with requests, as it always has done including through appearances at Senate estimates.

“This inquiry does not add any level of accountability as it is already possible for the Senate to call the NAIF before a committee, even if it’s not on a scheduled estimates day.”

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June 16, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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