I have hesitated to write this on the grounds that I do not know enough. But, on reflection, that is now precisely why I am writing it.
Trying to get clarity on the issues surrounding the decision to (a) support and (b) finance the Adani coal mining venture in Queensland has shown me how little clear and rigorous debate has been reported. I am not saying it has not taken place, and maybe there is a detailed explanation somewhere, but it is not easily to be found.
In public pronouncements on the issue, the Premier of Queensland has publicly justified the decision based on employment figures that are grossly in excess of even the optimistic figures of the company itself. Opposing arguments on economic, social and environmental grounds have been ignored or dismissed rather than addressed. (Although, admittedly, these arguments themselves have often not been clearly articulated or rationally presented.)
It is testament to this lack of clarity that the cleanest account of the issues that I have seen comes from a landowner – Bruce Currie of Jericho – as reported in the Queensland Country Life, 7 December.
- Why is the Federal Government lending $1B to the Adani Group so that it can build a single (private) use 310km railway line from the proposed coal mine to the port.
- Why is the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility supporting an operation that could threaten permanent destruction of water resources on which the agricultural industry depends, rather than supporting the viabllity of the region by opening up road and rail links for agricultural freight.
To my mind his most telling point is
“This is a project that will not last – within the life time of my children, the coal will be depleted, reliant businesses stripped of supply, the venture closed, miners unemployed, and groundwater supplies especially to the Great Artesian Basin in this area, destroyed forever.” (cf our post of 6 December on the life cycle of benefits)
His points may be right or wrong but surely we should be insisting that our governments, in the interest of accountability and transparency, should address them all – with clarity!
And if they don’t, perhaps we should emulate the French and take to the barricades?