A recent poll has revealed widespread support for a review of Adani’s environmental approvals if new risks are identified.
The research commissioned by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition found 67 per cent supported a review of the coal mine’s approvals, including those designed to safeguard water, if new risks emerged.
AYCC national director Gemma Borgo-Caratti is now calling for Labor to commit to reviewing Adani’s environmental approvals if the party wins the next election expected in May. The mine is expected to create 1500 jobs during the construction phase.
She said a number of questions had been raised in Senate Estimates this week about water impacts that had not been considered as part of the approval process and this would require further investigation.
Legal experts have also raised the blatant political interference over the groundwater approval process may well be grounds for judicial review.
“Government infighting over the Adani mine — including threats from Senator (James) McGrath for Melissa Price to be removed from her ministry if she rejected Adani’s groundwater plan — demonstrate a high level of political bias in the approvals process,” Ms Borgo-Caratti said.
Earlier this week it emerged Senator McGrath warned Environment Minister Melissa Price he would publicly call for her resignation if she failed to treat the mine approval fairly, according to The Courier Mail.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the party would look at the project but stopped short of committing to a review.
“The chaos and division in the LNP can’t be allowed to compromise proper decision making. Labor has always said the project needs to stack up commercially and scientifically,” Mr Shorten said in an statement.
“We will consider the report that’s been released, and if there are decisions to be made, we’ll make them on the best available information and in accordance with the law. We don’t rip up contracts and we don’t create sovereign risk.”
Ms Price announced on Tuesday she had signed off on Adani’s groundwater plan, which is the final federal approval the mine needs before beginning construction.
The AYCC believes the federal approvals should be reviewed.
“This abuse of process is a reminder the Liberal Party is letting the coal industry and their mates on the far right of politics define the legal process,” Ms Borgo-Caratti said.
“AYCC today is calling upon Bill Shorten and Labor to commit to reviewing Adani’s environmental approvals should they be elected.”
Meanwhile, the company who conducted AYCC poll, uComms, has come under fire today after the ABC revealed it was co-owned by union heavyweights CFMMEU and the ACTU.
uComms uses the robo-polling technology of ReachTEL and conducted the poll on March 12, before the Adani decision was announced. It found support for a review if new concerns were identified, was supported most strongly by those intending to vote for Labor (82.8 per cent) and the Greens (89.8 per cent).
But it was also supported by Liberal (49.5 per cent), National (40 per cent), One Nation (49.3 per cent), other (63.3 per cent) and undecided voters (74.2 per cent).
About 30.5 per cent of Liberal voters opposed a review, with a similar proportion of National voters disagreeing.
The poll of 2124 residents also showed 54 per cent thought digging new coal mines in Australia was no longer in the national interest.
More than 53 per cent thought governments should be phasing out mining and the burning of coal to address climate change.
Adani’s mine threatened to split the Coalition on the eve of a federal election.
MPs in Queensland electorates — where many are keen for the jobs the mine is hoped to create — want the mine to go through, but others in urban areas, particularly in Victoria, are worried because many oppose the mine due to its potential impacts to climate change and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as concerns over groundwater use and threatened species.
Adani CEO Lucas Dow welcomed yesterday’s approval and called on the Queensland Government to give the project a “fair go”.
The mine still needs approval from the Queensland Government for its groundwater and black-throated finch management plans.
Adani plans to letter drop thousands of homes in the state’s north, touting the number of jobs its project will create and challenging the State Government on its approvals process.
“Adani Mining has been through these planning and approvals processes for more than eight years now,” Mr Dow told The Courier-Mail on Wednesday. “We have been subject to nine legal challenges, all of which we have successfully won.”
However, Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has already expressed concern about political interference in the decision-making process.
Queensland MPs, including Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan, pushed Ms Price to act before the election was called, which would likely have left the decision in Labor’s hands.
“I am very concerned that Barnaby Joyce’s and Matt Canavan’s political campaign reeks of political interference, and may have compromised the integrity of the decision-making process,” Ms Enoch said in a statement.
“After a month of multiple requests, the Queensland Government received the CSIRO and GeoScience Australia report less than 30 minutes before the federal minister’s announcement.
“Adani has also, just today, provided DES with their latest version of the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan.”
She said initial advice from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science, based on the CSIRO and GeoScience Australia report, was that a number of uncertainties remained.
“This includes whether the GDEMP definitively identifies the source aquifers of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, which has always been a requirement for state approval,” Ms Enoch said.
“I also note Minister Price’s statement that the project must meet further stringent conditions of approval from the Commonwealth before it can begin producing coal.”