Ah Australia. Beautiful beaches, friendly locals, laid-back lifestyle and home to the fantastic Carmichael coal mine. Seeking billions of tonnes of pollution? We got it! Causing irreversible damage to a World Heritage-listed reef? Of course! A tale of a corrupt organisation, a dying reef, some shady politicians and mass outrage? You bet your ass!
I have to say, prior to researching this piece I was embarrassingly naïve when it came to the Adani coal mine proposal – I’d heard of the mine and the potential environmental impacts, but I had no idea just how complex, ridiculous and utterly FECKED this situation is. Unless ya been living under a rock, you understand the seriousness of climate change and the severe coral bleaching occurring in the Great Barrier Reef. Conscious efforts need to be made to reduce carbon emissions, so why the Christ has our government decided to support the Adani venture?
Essentially, Adani wants to build a giant coal mine in the Galilee Basin in QLD, close to the Great Barrier Reef. This project would also include a rail line between the new mine and the Abbot Point coal port (also owned by Adani). The government was planning to hand over $1 billion of taxpayer money to fund the rail line and give the company a royalties holiday, where they could defer $320 million in payments. The mine and rail line would pollute and destroy everything remotely near it, including the reef.
A Corrupt Organisation
If Adani was a person, they’d be a combination of Trump, Hitler, a Grill’d staff member asking how your meal is while you’ve got a mouth full of food, that drunk girl that spills her entire drink on you, and someone who hates puppies. The Indian mining and energy company has a documented history of corruption. Their corporate structure is “convoluted and opaque”, and 13 of the 26 Australian Adani subsidiaries are owned through the Cayman Islands, a known tax haven. Adani has been investigated and found guilty of:
– Laundering money
– Tax evasion (of nearly $200 million)
– Bribing Indian officials to cover illegal export of iron ore (7.7 million tonnes)
– Ripping off Indian customers by over $200 million
– Worker exploitation
– Use of child labourers and
– Unsafe working conditions resulting in multiple deaths.
In 2011, an Adani coal ship sank off the coast of Mumbai, spilling oil and over 60 000 tonnes of coal into the ocean. They did fuck all to fix the spill for FIVE YEARS. Adani Australia’s CEO, Jeyakumar Janakaraj (let’s just call him Head Wanker) was also in charge of a Zambian copper mine when it discharged dangerous water into a major river in 2010. This turned the water orange, the soil became barren, and people died. Head Wanker failed to disclose the company’s role in this environmental disaster to the Australian Federal Government before the Carmichael mine was approved – could the company get any more shady?
Oh yep, they can! This year, while Cyclone Debbie was on her merry way, Adani sought a license from the QLD government to release highly polluted discharge into the Caley Valley Wetlands from a site adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. They now admit they breached the conditions of this license, exceeding the permitted pollution limit by over 800%.
What do all these things add up to? A pretty corrupt company with no sense of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Companies are increasingly implementing strong CSR policies. It includes delivering social, economic and environmental benefits for all stakeholders – things like monitoring performance, engaging in ethical business practises, actively working to reduce carbon footprint and focusing on the needs of workers, customers and communities. So yeah, everything Adani ISN’T doing. The examples don’t even scratch the surface of how corrupt the company is, so why is our government supporting such an unethical company?
A Dying Reef
In 2016, the Great Barrier Reef experienced the worst coral bleaching ever recorded in history. Bleaching occurs due to climate change – the air and oceans get warmer, heat stress causes the coral to release the colourful algae living in their tissue and they turn white. If the heat stress is relieved soon enough, the coral can survive – if not, it dies. And what is causing climate change? Yep, 10 points for Gryffindor if you guessed it- mining and burning fossil fuels (AKA coal)! A study in the Marine and Freshwater Research journal reinforced this connection: “Unrestrained warming cannot occur without the loss and degradation of coral reefs on a global scale”.
Contrary to a lotta fake obituary articles, some parts of the reef are still very much alive and beautiful. Scientists at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority note that minor coral bleaching is a natural process, though back-to-back bleaching in 2016 and 2017 means some parts of the reef may not recover.
In 2016, the world’s favourite human Sir David Attenborough (if you aren’t obsessed with this adorable fella u can bugger right off) released a 3-part documentary series on the Great Barrier Reef, exquisitely detailing the animals of the reef, its history and its potential future. He urged that the reef is in danger due to climate change and the resulting change in sea temperature and acidity, pleading:
“Do we really care so little about the earth on which we live that we don’t want to protect one of the world’s greatest wonders from the consequences of our behaviour?”
He also created an interactive online portal where people can get inspired and educated about the reef. I’m no scientist, but operating a giant coal mine close to the Reef and shipping 60 million tonnes of coal through it a year probably ain’t gonna help the situation.
Shady Politicians and Mass Outrage
As you can guess, there’s been a bit of outrage from people not wanting their tax money used to fund the project, and numerous anti-Adani protest groups have popped up. Federal resources minister Matt Canavan championed the top-notch financial proposal, however some Federal Labour MP’s have broken ranks to publicly object to it. This opposition, coupled with public belief that this agreement would entail a broken election promise, led QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to help broker a new arrangement.
Shady Annastacia has been copping a lot of criticism, but she pulled through and announced QLD would not be the middle man in the funding support for Adani. This means no royalties holiday for Adani, however it still means giving them a freaking huge taxpayer-funded loan AND the project is now back on track.
All of this begs the question- Why is the Government supporting the project? Are there benefits?
Adani has claimed the project will generate around 10, 000 jobs, however their own expert witness in court claimed that number is actually a meagre 1,464 Australia-wide. The QLD government has labelled the project “critical infrastructure” that will have much-needed economic benefits. However, the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland did some legal analysis and deemed this “an inappropriate use of legislation” that could encourage other private developments to demand the same status. Some advocates have also claimed that coal from the Carmichael mine will be cleaner than coal produced in other parts of the world, so it will actually be helping to reduce carbon emissions. U wot? A new Climate Council report has literally TOLD US that 90% of Australia’s coal must remain in the ground – if the Galilee Basin is mined, we could use up to two-thirds of the world’s carbon budget.
The moral of this complex story is that Adani is fucked, our government sucks for continuing to endorse the Carmichael mine project and everyone involved can get rekd. I can’t wrap my head around how this proposal could be beneficial in ANY form to the public or the environment, and the truth is – it isn’t. The only people that will profit are Adani. Unless we want to see the Great Barrier Reef and everything near it destroyed, someone needs to put a stop to this. And if it won’t be our government, then it needs to be us.