Australian news, and some related international items

Twists and turns in the saga of Adani loan deal for giant Carmichael coal mine

Final chapter in Adani loan deal, Karen Middleton , Saturday Paper, 24 June 17, While the dealings of the government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility remain shrouded in secrecy, pressure mounts over funding for the Adani rail line.   “…….Among those addressing the annual Developing Northern Australia conference, held this year in Cairns, was Sharon Warburton, the chairwoman of the somewhat opaque Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, known as the NAIF.

The NAIF is a $5 billion-government-owned lender, set up to make concessionary loans to companies planning infrastructure projects in northern Australia that are of demonstrated public benefit and would not otherwise be able to proceed…..

The NAIF has not yet lent any money. But Warburton is hinting that it’s close to a decision on at least one application, the one that’s attracted the most controversy and has become an open secret: the request from Indian mining conglomerate Adani for $1 billion to fund a railway line to support its proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

“We know there is a lot of interest in NAIF and the Adani rail project,” Warburton told the conference on Monday. “I can confirm we are in our due diligence phase on that project.”

That translates as the final stage of assessment, with three other applications apparently also reaching finality. But, Warburton said, she could not say any more about Adani than that…..

Greens senator Larissa Waters said clean coal was “a lie”.

“This is straight from the big tobacco playbook,” Waters said. “Remember ‘light’ cigarettes? To meet the commitment under the Paris Agreement to keep global warming to safe levels, we need to reach zero pollution in the electricity sector transitioning away from coal. Building more coal-fired power stations is simply incompatible with the science.”

Environmental activists continue to mount a strenuous campaign against any kind of coal-fired power and the Adani mine development in particular, on the grounds that it represents an investment in a backwards-looking energy source that will add to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and damage the Great Barrier Reef…….

The company has sent mixed messages on whether it needs the NAIF loan to proceed, initially saying it wasn’t essential and then saying it was, a distinction crucial to NAIF’s considerations.

Details of any NAIF decision will only be published after it has been finalised and within 30 days of being taken.

Larissa Waters and Labor senator Murray Watt succeeded last week in establishing a senate inquiry into the NAIF, and Waters is pushing to have Adani called before it.

In recent senate budget estimates committee hearings, Labor and the Greens attempted to extract information on the status of the NAIF’s deliberations in general and the fate of Adani’s bid in particular.

As part of its processes, the NAIF must consult with Infrastructure Australia on projects it proposes to fund.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale asked Infrastructure Australia chief executive Philip Davies whether it had received a submission on the Adani rail line, as per the requirement that it must assess all projects seeking more than $100 million.

Davies said it had not…..

….NAIF director Karla Way-McPhail, who is chief executive of two companies that service the mining industry.

Minister Matt Canavan confirmed to a senate estimates hearing this month that Way-McPhail, who has spoken out in support of opening up the Galilee, was a friend whom he had recommended for the board…..

NAIF chief executive Laurie Walker declined to tell the senate estimates committee whether Way-McPhail or any other NAIF director had recused themselves from any discussions on the grounds of a potential conflict of interest. Walker said that was “not information that I think is appropriate to disclose”.

She said more than six conflicts had been declared…..

The Greens’ main focus has been on the suitability of the loan applicant rather than the assessors.

Larissa Waters wants the government to insert a “suitable person” test into the NAIF’s process for assessing loan bids, arguing she believes it would rule out Adani.

The Greens also want the environmental history test strengthened within environmental law and are calling for Adani’s approvals for the Carmichael project to be reviewed on the basis of “revelations about their environmental and corporate history” in activities overseas.

Waters has produced a private member’s bill to reflect the concerns but the government is not obliged to bring it forward for a vote……

despite Adani having announced with flourish recently that it had taken the final decision to proceed, others argue there are still obstacles to be cleared.

Tim Buckley, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, believes it is not viable without massive taxpayer subsidies.

“The green light that Adani made such a fuss about a couple of weeks ago was actually just a sham,” Buckley told The Saturday Paper.

He has written a paper suggesting “defer, delay and pray” appear to be the company’s unspoken watchwords……despite Adani having announced with flourish recently that it had taken the final decision to proceed, others argue there are still obstacles to be cleared….


June 28, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland

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