On Monday this week, environment minister Greg Hunt approved the proposed Carmichael Coal and Rail Project. On the eastern edge of central Queensland's largely untapped Galilee Basin, the $16.5 billion project is expected, according to the government, to employ up to 2,500 workers during its construction phase, and to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal for electricity over the next 60 years.
The project, which would be seven times the size of Sydney Harbour, is set to include six open-cut pits and five underground mines. Hunt is at pains to emphasise the 36 conditions he has imposed on the mine's operator, Indian giant Adani. But expert critics worry that even if adhered to, those conditions say nothing about the mine's effect on climate change, and are unlikely to prevent damage to groundwater systems. Critics have also pointed to Adani's poor record at meeting environmental conditions. The Indian environment ministry last year fined Adani the equivalent of $33 million after it was found to have hidden the true nature of its projects so as to obtain faster approvals.
Industry analysts are also puzzled by the approval. World coal prices are already low because of a global oversupply. If the Carmichael project goes ahead – which in practice would mean that billions of dollars of infrastructure is built to service it – then up to nine other projects in the Galilee Basin would also become viable. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, whose mission is to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy resources, suggests that the combined projects may increase global coal supply by 30 per cent. Under present conditions Adani will not develop the mine, if only because it won't be able to raise the required capital. But Hunt's approval extends to 30 June 2090.
"Unemployed people will be penalised if they indiscriminately spam employers with applications rather than make genuine efforts to find work."
Also: Graduate employment worst since 1992-93 recession (Tim Dodd and Edmund Tadros, Australian Financial Review); Tougher job-seeker rules will have negative impact, say interest groups (Lenore Taylor, The Guardian); Xenophon says proposal to force unemployed to apply for 40 jobs a month 'dead in the water' (Naomi Woodley, ABC News)
"Under the environmental assessment process, greenhouse gas emissions from construction and day-to-day mining operations are included, but not emissions from burning the coal for electricity."
Also: Coal-fired power station to close in Latrobe Valley, despite $50 million federal bailout (Rhiana Whitson, ABC News); Plan to load coal ships at sea in middle of Great Barrier Reef risks damage to reef, says UNESCO (Mark Millacy, ABC News)
"A group of Catholic and Christian church leaders have accused the Abbott government of ‘state sanctioned child abuse’ in the immigration detention system, and called for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to step down from his position as guardian for all unaccompanied minors."
Also: Indian officials prepare to meet with Tamil asylum seekers 'within days' (Oliver Laughland, The Guardian); Government pays $330,000 for a room it doesn't use (Lisa Martin, Fairfax)
Comment: On asylum seekers, international law can't hold back this government (Anthea Vogi, The Guardian)
"The Abbott government wants to sack its own naval shipbuilder and install British defence giant BAE Industries to rescue the nation’s largest defence project, the $8.5 billion construction of three air warfare destroyers."
"In a statement provided to Fairfax Media, Assange said it was ‘completely egregious to block the public's right to know and suppress the media in any instance, and especially in cases of international corruption involving politicians and subsidiaries of a public organisation’."
Also: Press Council's new rules make writers face facts (Jonathan Holmes, Fairfax)