Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Adani coal mine project headed to be a big issue at next Federal election?

The future of the Adani mine, Overwhelming public opposition to the Adani coalmine in northern Queensland tipped the scales in state election campaigning. But now that’s over, what influence does it have at a federal level and on the mine’s future? The Saturday Paper,  By Alex McKinnon. 2 Dec 17, 

“……Palaszczuk’s explanation for abandoning her long-time support of the loan was to avoid a potential conflict of interest, arising from her partner’s work on Adani’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan application as a consultant for PwC. But state treasurer Curtis Pitt admitted during the campaign that the real reason for Palaszczuk’s about-face was the overwhelming public opposition to taxpayers’ money being used to fund a private mine.

Queensland’s Labor government supports the Adani mine going ahead, to provide jobs in struggling regional areas. But GetUp! environmental justice co-director and Stop Adani campaigner Sam Regester points to the huge swings to the Greens in a swath of inner-Brisbane electorates as proof Labor recognised anti-Adani sentiment was hurting them enough to force a response. Counting still under way in Maiwar could lead to the Greens winning their first seat at a general election, and candidate Amy MacMahon came close to knocking over Labor deputy premier Jackie Trad in South Brisbane.

ON THE ISSUE OF THE NAIF LOAN, AT LEAST, PUBLIC OPINION IS EMPHATIC ENOUGH TO PRESSURE PALASZCZUK INTO KEEPING HER WORD.

“The Greens’ strong position on Adani was directly responsible for their strong showing in the inner city,” Regester says. “Labor tried to have it both ways for three years, and they offset some of the damage by deciding to veto the NAIF loan, but voters rewarded the party that had a consistent stance.”

Given Labor will most likely form a majority government, that balancing act appears to have worked for now. What comes next – for the mine, those opposing it, and the government that could make or break it – is less clear. As counting continues and the Palaszczuk government prepares to go back to work with whatever parliament the voters have given it, anti-Adani campaigners are planning their next moves.

The Stop Adani Alliance, the umbrella organisation of environmentalists, climate scientists, traditional owners and civil society groups that formed to campaign against the mine in March, largely regards the election result as a win. Nicholls’ Liberal National Party, which has backed the mine to the hilt, remains in opposition. One Nation’s promised windfall of seats failed to materialise………

Palaszczuk’s Labor government will likely hold 47 or 48 seats in Queensland’s 93-member, single-house parliament. Once it nominates a speaker, the government will have the barest of majorities, provided every Labor MP stays in line. Given the record of Palaszczuk’s previous government, which lost Pyne and former Cook MP Billy Gordon to the crossbench, that may be too much to hope for. If Labor is forced to negotiate with the KAP’s three parliamentarians, One Nation’s Stephen Andrew, or Noosa independent Sandy Bolton, it may find the competing interests over the Adani mine can’t be finessed away.

On the issue of the NAIF loan, at least, public opinion is emphatic enough to pressure Palaszczuk into keeping her word. ReachTel polling conducted for the Stop Adani Alliance during the campaign found 70 per cent of Queenslanders oppose directing public funding towards the Carmichael project, with voters across political lines expressing strong support for the government using its veto power.

Queenslanders are more evenly split on the larger question of the mine itself, but losing the NAIF loan will compound Adani’s difficulties in securing the $3.3 billion it needs to fund the first stage of the project, and could sink the mine altogether. While Adani has made noises about seeking financing from Chinese banks, such a move would likely require construction materials and infrastructure contracts to be sourced from Chinese firms, further souring the project in the public eye and undermining the argument that the mine will bring local jobs.

So much attention has been devoted to Palaszczuk’s manoeuvring, it’s easy to forget how much of Adani’s ultimate fate lies in Canberra. The federal opposition leader, Bill Shorten, stayed far away from Queensland during the campaign, not least to avoid awkward questions about where he stands. Shorten tied himself in knots trying to articulate his various positions on the mine earlier this year, sometimes changing his mind mid-sentence……..

With the state election over, Shorten and federal Labor no longer have the luxury of dithering. Regester says the anti-Adani movement’s top post-election priority, “besides ensuring the veto goes through” and “working to ensure Adani can’t secure funding from anywhere else”, will be recentring the campaign on the national stage.

“Unless a major party moves on Adani, we’ll be making it an issue at the next federal election,” Regester says, highlighting “marginal seats in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane” where support for Adani could prove costly. Labor’s Terri Butler and the Liberals’ Trevor Evans will be looking nervously at the huge upswing in the Greens’ vote across territory their inner-Brisbane seats cover, while the Stop Adani movement’s large Melbourne presence could see the thumping Greens victory in the Victorian Northcote byelection repeated in Batman, Wills, Higgins and Melbourne Ports…….. https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2017/12/02/the-future-the-adani-mine/15121332005585

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December 2, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics

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