UC_009 Coral, Coal & Corruption

Welcome to our home state of sunny Queensland – home to one of the seven Natural Wonders of World and also the potential future home of one of the world's biggest coal mines. Now this coal mine makes no sense from an economic, political or environmental perspective, yet is somehow vociferously supported by both sides of politics – conservative investment banker Malcolm Turnbull, and progressive policy-agnostic Annastacia Palaszczuk. Now these two have recently been having something of a public spat – but don’t let that fool you They share a deep, obsessive love for dirty dirty coal. Lets run the numbers. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the biggest drawcards for tourists visiting Australia and it employs about 70,000 people, generating $7bn a year for the Australian economy. According to Malstacia, the Carmichael Coal Mine will employ about 10,000 people and generate $22bn….

except it won’t. Under oath in the Queensland Land Court Adani’s own experts were forced to admit that jobs figure was closer to 1,200 people. And that $22bn, well that's over the entire 60 year lifespan of the mine meaning the annual figure economy is only $366 million by comparison, Australian men spend $500m a year on beard grooming products. So if the numbers don’t stack up – why is Malstacia so stoked on coal, both of them individually travelling as far as India itself to profess their undying love for Adani’s billionaire figurehead. Big Mal even personally assured his man-crush Gautam Adani, that contentious native title disputes in the project area, ‘wouldn’t be a problem’. Hey Mal – might wanna check with the Wangan and Jagalingou people on that one buddy.

The $7bn tourism industry surrounding the Barrier Reef is currently being threatened by unprecedented levels of coral bleaching – caused by rises in sea temperature. Experts agree that the only way to slow these temperature increases – let alone stop them – is if all the coal that is in the ground right now…stays there. But even for Moncktonian climate skeptics, Adani’s own track record should be enough to scare away any bank, investor or shareholder. They’ve been found culpable for a long list of community- and environment-destroying actions – including bribery, labour force abuse & walking away from environmental disasters that they’ve created. Just this week, details emerged of Adani’s Abbott Point project releasing 8 times the legal limit of coal sediment into the local waterways adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Despite the government’s fetishisation of the black mineral – investors, experts, and industry have all been wading away from the Carmichael mine like bathers from an aqua-turd.

The last of Australia’s big 4 banks recently announced it wouldn’t support the project either which earned it some insightful name calling from the Murdoch propaganda rags along with Federal Resource minister and face-descent victim, Matthew Canavan – who went on to say that Westpac’s decision “stunk to high heaven”. Support for nature-raping is fairly predictable from conservative politics and Rupert’s bloodhounds – but recently hell officially froze over when the Rush Limbaugh of the Southern Hemisphere – Alan Jones came out AGAINST the project. "That's right I mean it does not pass the smell test "The royalties would be inadequate," "We shouldn't be providing money," "they want to change the native title legislation to make it easier for Adani," "they want to give them money that the Indian government wouldn't give to them" "the parliament wouldn't give to them, and the Indian banks wouldn't give to them "nearly a billion dollars" If Alan Jones thinks your profit-gouging enterprise is a bit much – you know something’s really really wrong.

Here at The Undercurrent, when we step back and look at Malstacia’s obsession with the Carmichael Coal Mine, our biggest unanswered question is – why? Why would they push so hard and use up so much political capital to approve a project with poor business case, run by a questionable company, in a dying industry. They can’t say ‘jobs’ because there aren't anywhere near enough jobs to justify the billion dollar loan of taxpayer dollars they’re offering Adani. And they can’t say ‘tax revenue’ because Adani’s complex corporate structure means pretty much all their profits will end up in a tax haven in the Cayman Islands. So why are they willing to sacrifice one of our strongest growth industries to do something with almost no benefit to Australians? Well maybe there is a benefit….it’s just not for us. 'Cause if the dollars on the table don’t stack up – the answer is probably under the table..