Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow, who held an urgent meeting with Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch in Brisbane on Thursday, accused the Palaszczuk government of “playing politics” over the Carmichael mine which is expected to be politically sensitive for Labor ahead of next year’s federal election.
“We are now seeing more processes and actions coming in at the eleventh hour when we have been working on this for the best part of 18 months,” Mr Lucas said in an interview with AFR Weekend.
“We remain concerned as to the state government support for this project. We want them to stop playing politics. The state government is standing in the way of regional jobs for Queensland.”
Adani is growing increasingly frustrated over what they perceived to be a “go-slow” over the final approvals for the Adani mine. Since they first lodged the black-throated finch environmental management plan in May 2017, they said there had been 15 rounds of feedback to ensure the company meets its environmental obligations.
They have now been blind-sided by the new review which they believe was not part of its original Environmental Authority.
“We are not looking for anything other than the same treatment any one else gets. This is unprecedented,” Mr Dow said.
Adani – which has scaled back its mine from its original plans of 60 million tonnes capacity a year to 10 million to 15 million tonnes – has received two of the three federal government approvals to commence construction, while it is still waiting for the state sign-off on the management plan for the black-throated finch and groundwater.
Mr Dow wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk early this week seeking clarity over the government’s support for the Galilee Basin mine and requesting a meeting, but has so far heard nothing. Attempts to meet with Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad have also been rebuffed.
Despite being a champion of the Adani project in the past to deliver thousands of jobs in regional Queensland, Ms Palaszczuk and her ministers have gone cold on the project since they announced late last year they would not support any federal loan for the project.
The move was seen as a cynical attempt to shore up Green preferences in inner-Brisbane seats in November’s state election. And it worked.
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten, whose keynote address to the Labor Party national conference in Adelaide was interrupted by anti-Adani protesters, is expected to adopt the same political tactic ahead of the national toll.
Ms Enoch dismissed allegations of political interference, while the state Department of Environment said there was no statutory time limit on finalising approvals for projects.
Adani – which has become the lightning rod for environmental activists who are attempting to close Australia’s fossil fuel industry – will not be able to break dirt on the mine site until its environmental plans for the black-throated finch and groundwater have been given the final green light.
The company will, however, be able to begin some preliminary clearing for its 200-kilometre rail line – which will join Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network – which is not conditional on federal approval of its environmental management plans.