Friday, April 12, 2019

Today by Paddy Manning

The Adani election
A green light for a mega-mine lights up a Green


As far as Australia’s response to climate change goes, it’s a high stakes election, that’s for sure. Imagine a mandate for the reverse – for policies against climate action – which is what the Coalition’s hardliners will claim they have been granted should they defy the bookmakers and win in May. Nothing crystallises the debate like Adani’s Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin, one of a dozen or so globally significant “carbon bombs” that were identified almost a decade ago as collectively capable of releasing enough greenhouse gases to make maintaining a safe climate impossible. It’s alarming to say so, but it certainly looks, smells and feels as though the timing of the prime minister’s decision to call the election yesterday morning was influenced by the desire to have final Commonwealth approval for the Adani project and to avoid scrutiny of that approval in estimates yesterday. Both the approval and the calling of the election throw the focus onto Greens founder Bob Brown’s Stop Adani convoy, which will kick off next week in Hobart and travel to Clermont, near the Queensland mine site, before culminating in a rally in Canberra.

As the ABC’s Stephen Long and Michael Slezak wrote yesterday, Environment Minister Melissa Price has given a tick to Adani’s contentious groundwater management plan on the basis of a heavily qualified statement from the CSIRO, which suggested that more work remained to be done. It’s a decision that Queensland’s environment minister Leeanne Enoch said “reeks of political interference”. (For a thorough understanding of the Adani project, including the significance of the groundwater management plan and the threat to the Doongmabulla Springs out of the Great Artesian Basin, read James Bradley’s excellent essay “How Australia’s coal madness led to Adani” in The Monthly). Veteran political journalist and author Margo Kingston tweeted yesterday: “Govt’s approval of the #Adani groundwater plan was corrupt. It’s that simple,” adding: “This is the biggest Govt scandal of 2019 – and there’s been a few – CSIRO damned Adani’s plan, the Minister approved its amended plan without CSIRO even seeing it.”

The approval is manna from heaven for the Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan, who was out in Townsville championing the project today, but it has also fallen into the lap of the Stop Adani convoy, organised by the Bob Brown Foundation. The convoy has now signed on more than 650 people who have agreed to a series of conditions including non-violence, and will continue to fundraise though it has exceeded its original target of $50,000.

Brown explains they’ll need the money: “We’ve been required to pay a $25,000 bond up at the Clermont showground [where the convoy will camp], in case there’s civil unrest, so we’ll need that money. We’ve got to pay that bond within the next week. Presumably we’ve got to indemnify the council against pro-Adani people violating the showground.”

The Queensland media is hostile, and The Courier-Mail reports [$] today that some residents are angry at the Clermont council for hosting the convoy. It’s almost a repeat of Strahan in 1983, when locals were hostile to the Franklin blockade – there won’t be a welcoming committee for the convoy.

“I’m not so sure about that,” Brown says. “For example, there’s a lot of farmers onside, and the traditional owners have asked us to come onto their country, so we’re very pleased about that.” Brown was in Queensland a fortnight ago, including at Airlie Beach, and got “a fantastic reception; those people are really worried about the Great Barrier Reef and are pleased somebody’s speaking up about it.”

The Australian reported [$] this week that the CFMEU in Queensland was asking federal election candidates to sign pledges to support the Adani project. “That’s the same CFMEU that with red flags flying crowded the stage to cheer on John Howard in 2004 against Mark Latham on the Tasmanian forests,” Brown says. “And what they got, within months of that election, was WorkChoices, which hit workers right across Australia, and a number of their own members going to jail, after Howard set up the commission of inquiry into the building industry. They are very slow learners. Here they are doing it again. It’s incredible that they could be coercing Labor members like that after that performance in 2004, when they sold out on workers right across the country.”

Brown says the convoy’s organisers were not surprised by this week’s Carmichael mine approval. “We expect that the government will do anything it can to facilitate Adani, and that Labor will do everything it can to not commit to what the great majority of voters, particularly Labor voters, want, and that is to say they will stop it.” What was amazing about that decision, he says, was that the only question was when Price was going to give the approval, not if. “Her option was to say no,” Brown says, “and that would have stopped the mine, but that wasn’t even on the agenda … It was, ‘She’s taking too long to give us the “yes” we know we’re going to get.’”

The convoy will culminate in a rally in Canberra on May 5, and Brown says there will be a spot on the stage for Bill Shorten to announce that Labor will stop the project, just as Bob Hawke did at a 15,000-strong rally in Melbourne in 1983, before going on to win an election that put the environment on the political map. “We certainly will reserve a position for him to do just that,” says Brown, “and of course Scott Morrison at the same time. We will also have a vacant chair at all our whistlestops along the way, for Gautam Adani, in case he should want to pop into his Learjet and come over and speak on behalf of the minority who want his mine to go ahead.”


“The estimate by Treasury that Labor’s tax agenda is worth $387 billion in extra revenue over the next decade is plausible because it accords with the numbers Labor has already released. But it also confirms that until now, the government has been exaggerating the size of Labor’s new taxes.”

AFR political editor Phillip Coorey breaks down the Treasury analysis of Labor’s tax increases.


“There are plenty of people with disability living in Dickson. A lot of people have raised this with me. I think they are quite angry that Ms France is using her disability as an excuse for not moving into our electorate.”

Member for Dickson Peter Dutton takes a low shot at Labor candidate Ali France, who has struggled to find a wheelchair-accessible house in the electorate, and blames his comments on his constituents in the process.

The Number

The number of opinion polls recorded by Wikipedia since September 2016 (including Newspoll, Ipsos, Essential, ReachTEL and Galaxy), all of which have pointed to a Labor victory, Tim Colebatch writes for Inside Story.

The Policy

“I think there has to be.”

For the first time, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says he supports an increase to Newstart.

The list

“In 2006, Julian Assange established WikiLeaks as a revolutionary political organisation tailored to the new age of electronic communications ... What we have learned from recent events, however, is that WikiLeaks was itself vulnerable to a radical form of corruption if the leaks it published came not from upright whistleblowers but from manipulative political actors ... There was quite simply nothing in Assange’s theory that might have dissuaded him from co-operating with Russian intelligence in its clandestine anti-Clinton, pro-Trump operation.” 


“The ‘Free Our Sisters, Free Our Kids’ campaign is calling on the Victorian government to reconsider many of its crime policies amid a skyrocketing prison population in the state. Victoria’s prison population rose by 67 per cent over the decade to 2016, and the state’s incarceration rates are currently at their highest since 1896. The state’s female prison population grew by 75 per cent in the same time period and has continued to grow since.” 


“Follow the endless sandy beach southwards from the raggedy resort town of Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh, then cut inland through busy markets and farming villages, and you’ll soon notice that the whole world is somehow here: a Médecins Sans Frontières depot, Red Crescent ambulances, a Malaysian health complex, World Health Organization Toyotas, Christian Aid infrastructure, Oxfam, the UNHCR. If you include outlying encampments and thousands of families remaining from earlier waves of displacement, more than 800,000 people now shelter here.”

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?


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