GREEN

Even Conservative Queenslanders Hate The Idea Of Adani Getting Government Handouts

And Annastacia Palaszczuk Appears To Have Smelled The Political Wind

09/11/2017 3:51 PM AEDT | Updated 19 hours ago
Amit Dave / Reuters
Gautam Adani - not Queensland's favourite guy.

Pay your own way, please.

These, as far as we know, were not the exact words Queenslanders used when asked how they feel about $1 billion in taxpayer funds being funnelled to Adani to help the Indian resources giant build its proposed Carmichael coal mine.

But they seem a pretty close approximation of the vibe, if a new poll released this week is anything to go by. And interestingly, coal miners are among those who are most strongly opposed.

The ReachTEL poll, commissioned by the Stop Adani movement, showed that approximately seven out of 10 Queenslanders believe Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did the right thing last weekend when she announced her Labor Government would have "no role in the future" of an assessment of the $1 billion loan to Adani.

In other words, she said "no thanks" and vetoed it.

ReachTEL

The proposed $1 billion loan was available through the Federal Government's Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), which exists to stimulate investment in a part of Australia where infrastructure and other costs can be huge, due largely to the area's remoteness.

Before any NAIF funding goes through, the State Government must approve it. In this case, Queensland chose not to.

The Premier's official reason was that her partner, Shaun Drabsch, worked on the NAIF application with his employer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, which acted for Adani.

So in other words, Palaszczuk did not want a perceived conflict of interest to trigger an election smear campaign. Others argue she smelled the political wind. Whatever the main underlying reason, as the poll numbers above show, Queenslanders overwhelmingly approve of her decision.

  • 68 percent of the 1,300 Queenslanders polled, or almost 7 in 10, agree that the Premier did the right thing in vetoing the loan.
  • A majority of Queenslanders across all political stripes agree that the Premier did the right thing in vetoing the loan.

This sentiment may surprise some. But they don't surprise Peter McCallum, co-ordinator of the Mackay Conservation Group (Mackay is about four hours south-east of the proposed mine).

"We've done on our own surveys where we interviewed people in shopping centres in Mackay and got pretty much the same figures," McCallum told HuffPost Australia.

"Local TV also got about three-quarters of people who don't think [the mine] is a good idea."

Palaszczuk has previously cited jobs, jobs and jobs as the reason behind her support for Adani's mine (even if those jobs projections were shown to overblown by Adani's own people). So why would the people in the region which stands to get some of those jobs still be strongly opposed?

You could pretty much answer that with another three words: reef, water and fairness. The reef part of the equation is self-explanatory.

Ho New / Reuters

"I think the primary concern is the global climate will be affected by more CO2 in the atmosphere, and that opening a new coal mine is completely the wrong idea at a time when we need to be reducing emissions, McCallum said.

"People up here realise the first impact we are seeing [of climate change] is potentially the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, which is a global icon and which provides 71,000 jobs in Queensland. It's a much bigger employer than the mining industry and it will last forever -- if we do the right thing.

"But two of the largest bleaching events have happened in the last two years."

The water part of the equation is about local groundwater, a crucial agricultural resource which farmers believe will be threatened by a huge coal mine in the largely untapped Galilee Basin.

Fairness? That's an interesting one. Mackay is also a coal area, and McCallum said local mine operators and workers don't think it's fair that an overseas company should qualify for a huge loan of a size which dwarfs anything offered to Australian-owned mines in the Mackay region.

Yes, even coal miners are glad that their Premier has vetoed the Adani loan.

Stop Adani

"It would have been smarter from early on to say 'we don't support this loan, you've got it wrong that only people in [the urban belt of] south-east of Queensland oppose this loan," McCallum said of Palaszczuk's policy turnaround.

"I talk to people from all walks of life here in Mackay. The miners, the bloke who runs the servo, everyone. And they tell me they don't want this.

"Why back a polluting new coal mine when we are living in the Sunshine State with a bountiful source of solar energy to harness?"

Could this change the election result? Verity Morgan-Schmidt, a Queenslander who is CEO of Farmers for Climate Action, believes it could.

"This poll underlines what we already know, that the clear majority of Queenslanders want no part in using taxpayers' money to support billionaire Gautam Adani," she said.

"It shows people feel so strongly that they'd be prepared to switch their vote on this basis."

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