The view from Billinudgel

Why Adani shouldn’t make long-term plans
The #climatestrike shows that the future is not on the miner’s side


Yet again we are assured that the Adani mine is going ahead, as Adani Lite. They’ll only dig a little and, then, they see how far they can keep shovelling.

The promise – the threat – is that operations will begin by the end of the year, but we have seen Adani’s delusional optimism many times. Apart from the still pertinent environmental issues, there are serious doubts about the economics of the proposal even in its cut-down form.

The idea, apparently, is that it will be of, by and for Adani: no external finances, the coal going exclusively to Adani’s own generators in India, and no government assistance. Well, none apart from a royalty holiday from the Queensland government and the infrastructure already built, largely on behalf of Adani, such as the Abbot Point port.

But according to the experts this will still not break even, so Adani may have a few more tricks to play. But the coal lovers are not fazed: there will be jobs, jobs, jobs. Not, admittedly, the wildly exaggerated claim of 10,000 under the original idea, but at least a few.

And this was enough for Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who absurdly referred to the Indian megacorp as “a little Aussie battler”. But even he must accept that there are a few real Aussie battlers still resisting the project.

The school students’ crusade on Friday was immediately dismissed and denigrated by Canavan, who said that by missing one day of classes, the kids were heading straight to the dole queue. Scott Morrison said there should be “more learning in schools and less activism”, and that he didn’t support “schools being turned into parliaments”.

This is unfortunate, because most of the students involved are clearly more literate and numerate about climate change than the majority of politicians. And of course their time will come.

In the meantime, the demand that young people should shut up and be obedient little conservatives is both condescending and offensive. One lofty line was that the students are far too young and immature to know what they are doing – many are teenagers who deal with complex ideas every day, not only at school but also in everyday life.

I know, because my granddaughter is one of them. She knew exactly what she was doing and why and she intends to keep on doing it until the politicians listen – if not this time, then the next, and the next, and the next. Adani may or may not start digging before Christmas, but it would be most unwise for it to make long-term plans.

The future is not on its side – or, for that matter, Morrison’s. The recent results in Wentworth and Victoria have confirmed as much. Our vacuous marketeer leader is the one who needs to pay attention to his education.

Mungo MacCallum

Mungo MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy. Visit his blog, The View from Billinudgel.

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