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An Acceptable Obscenity: Adani Cultivates Queensland


The cicadas are studding the night with their sound, and occasionally, the curlews manifest with calls that string out a melody of mournful death. The reminder of Queensland, and certainly this part of the Australian state, is total.

As the dawn breaks, an election is being fought for the state, and its politicians are generally of one unchanging mind: Adani’s Carmichael coal mine is good for Australia and Queenslanders, and ratepayers need to help.

A conspiracy of sorts has been made between Adani and various collaborators it has gotten on board, those individuals on the ground who have essentially become the commissioned harlots for the Indian giant down under.

The sense of Adani’s generous largesse and mind swaying techniques have been evidenced by its extensive campaign to win over the relevant mayors of Queensland and the premier of the state. Rockhampton’s Mayor Margaret Strelow received over $1,600 in an assortment of hospitality gifts, which were recorded in the Rockhampton Regional Council’s official register in April this year. (These officials have no problem sharing Adani’s capacious bed of incentives).

Another dipping into this pot of subsidised corruption is Mayor Jenny Hill of Townsville, who has decided that going with the mining momentum, however archaic and fictional it might be, is the way to go.

Her explanation to the 7.30 program on ABC is worth noting for its hair-tearing perverseness, its near gargoyle like disingenuousness. Not only was it fine to fund a billionaire with public money, it was also entirely appropriate to be corrupted in doing so. “We accepted a gift to fly to Mumbai to see their solar plant because are very keen to set up solar facilities in the north.”

This, from a labour crippling poisoning coal giant keen to muddle along in crude extraction mode, demonstrates either the mayor’s sense of moral arrested development, or Adani’s stunning act of deeply penetrative seduction. Never mind the foreplay and the rough love: Adani has managed to convince politicians at the local level that they are worth it.

Both Councillor Strelow and Mayor Hill, it is worth noting, are bending over in grotesque contortion to assist Adani with using money that is not theirs (the good rate payers’, in short) to fund a $36 million airstrip at the proposed Carmichael coal mine. Neither seen a problem with their conduct.

The Townsville City Council, for instance, made their decision to supply $18.5 million in shrouds of pure secrecy, refusing to seek consultation with public figures or groups. The explanation supplied was as crude as it was unsatisfactory: throwing such money at Adani was feasible given the savings achieved from the redundancies of 300 people.

All, it seemed, was above board, including Adani’s own gravy train of mayoral sponsorship. In Hill’s words, “I don’t think there’s an issue with that – it’s been properly declared and the community can find out on our website.” This is the sort of dizzying honesty that deserves a gold medal and a singular bullet, the latter to reassure the elector that such members should never reach mayoral office. They are happy to betray confidence and independence to a foreign despoiling entity in plain sight and expect resounding thanks.

There are voices noting the absurdity of the stance. “Why does a billionaire,” argues Peter Newey, convenor of Townsville Residents and Ratepayers Association with steely sensibility, “want two councils in Queensland to pay $36 million for an airstrip?” As convenor of the Townsville Residents and Ratepayers Association, Newey insisted that Gautam Adani “would be able to afford at least two dozen of them and then gold plate them.”

Other local figures are simply concerned that such money could be well used to fund local infrastructure projects instead of coddling a mining monster. “I despaired, to be honest,” claimed a member of the city’s city image committee, Lucy Downes, “because that money could have been used to reactive the CBD.”

An interesting sentiment that seems to come out is the sense of cleverness: the local, trough skimming officials here are intent on making sure that they fawn and butter as long as they can, but still assure the “people”, those sad estranged electors, that they have their backs. If Adani does not come good with their bank finance, the air strip is not going to happen.

Hill is particularly one who believes she can straddle two chairs and still claim a Zen like balance. Embracing Adani and loving the environment are two fundamentally consistent principles in this muddled acquiescence. “We put extra regulation into areas like licensing requirements while rate payers up north pay to make sure our wastewater is handled in a way that wont hurt the Reef.” A perfect world, one that reconciles insatiable plunder with immaculate conservation.

Local councillors are acting as any councillor in any malnourished, post-colonial state would. They are up for purchase, and they are proud of it. To that end, there is no room to be smug, self-satisfied and exceptional here. Dictators rolling in the sponsorship of the US Central Intelligence Agency would have been envious.

This is Australia, where the term post-colonial suggests, and is loaded, with other meanings. Not, however, when it comes to a molesting, mine renting giant like Adani. That cap has been doffed, and local government is happy to fork out.



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  1. Terry2

    As Kaye Lee noted the other day, the talk about thousands of jobs seems the fly in the face of what Adani are actually saying publicly :

    INDIAN energy giant Adani has ordered 55 “super large” dump trucks for delivery late next year [2018].
    “All the vehicles will be capable of automation,” said CEO Jeyakumar Janakara.
    “When we ramp up the mine, everything will be autonomous from mine to port… in our eyes, this is the mine of the future.”

  2. babyjewels10

    “Grotesque” is right.

  3. helvityni

    “The past ( Queensland) is a foreign country: they do things differently there”.( Hartley)

    On the other hand, witnessing the Turnbull government’s antics I get that same weary old Hartley feeling…it’s all about different strokes for different folks, the way they operate….

    Was it Con the Fruiterer, who said: me no understand…? I understand how Con felt…

  4. Ricardo29

    Given her need to rely on the pro mining Katterites, Palaszczuk’s position is, perhaps understandable, these two Mayors have no excuse. It is an obscenity that they each cop in $18 million for an airstrip which is not in their own shires. If it is true that Townsville Council got rid of 300 employes it is more than an obscenity it is a sacking offence.

  5. Adrianne Haddow

    Another insightful offering from you, Binoy. I always enjoy your writing. Thank you.

    What did Paul Keating say about a banana republic?
    He must have had a crystal ball to predict our present times of misgovernment and hyper-corruption.

  6. Rossleigh

    Given that the taxpayer is fronting up with all of the capital, what exactly IS Adani’s role in all this?

  7. Matters Not

    Re Adani: It’s worth remembering.

    From the very start of a scam you are kept just slightly off balance so that you feel you must cling to the con artist for support. During the entire manipulation, you are being emotionally positioned so that when the con artist disappears, you will feel as if you have pushed off a merry-go-round. In effect, you were.

    You are suddenly left without the rudder in whom you believed with all your heart. To admit you were wrong can be emotionally shattering. You are left reeling and alone with that voice inside your head yelling, “What have I done?!”

    Dignity and self-esteem are gone, replaced with shame, guilt, embarrassment, and anger (usually self-directed). A modern day Milan Brych


  8. townsvilleblog

    The Townsville Mayor is trying to justify the spending of ratepayers money to build Adani the airstrip as the benefit to the Townsville economy will be $90 million per annum and she says that Councils encourage businesses in this way all the time. I’d be much happier if the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) had a look at the case, including all the bribe monies to Councillors/ State MPs and Federal MPs.

  9. Keith

    I gather the Queensland Labor government is happy to give away water to Adani.

    A short article translated from Portuguese:


    NASA alerta que a pior crise da humanidade pode chegar em breve!
    NASA warns that humanity’s worst crisis may come soon!

    Translation of article:

    The US space agency NASA has issued an alert soon!

    In a not so distant future, the planet’s water may just end.

    What could be the plot of an apocalyptic movie is actually an alarm launched by the US space agency, NASA.

    According to information released by NASA, the agency analyzed satellite photos and came to the conclusion that more than half of Earth’s underground aquifers are disappearing.

    Of the 37 aquifers most important to life on the planet, 20 have already crossed the critical point; and 13 of these are with such low reserve that they have moved into an emergency category. According to NASA, these data reveal that humanity is consuming (and wasting) more water than the planet has to offer.

    These natural water supplies provide approximately 35% of the water used by humans. In an interview with The Washington Post, NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti draws attention to the seriousness of the problem and points out that population growth and development of agriculture and mining activities only exacerbate the situation.

    For the situation to be reversed and the aquifers “saved”, it would take thousands of years. Today, the region most likely to worry about water depletion on the planet is the Arabian peninsula, home to more than 60 million people. Among the most alarming cases are also India, Pakistan, Libya and Niger.




  10. guest

    I am glad Keith has raised the question of NASA’s warnings about aquifers of the world. Farmers near the Galilee Basin are concerned about the same thing: what about the water?

    Meanwhile, there are great concerns about the future of the Great Barrier Reef and its tourist industry. At the same time there is talk about environmental regulations which are supposed to protect against the deleterious effects of industrial actions. But our success with such regulations has not been good.

    We have not been able to prevent fires and floods in the world, or the effects of hurricanes bigger than ever.

    Along the west coast of the USA and Canada, and on the coast of East Antarctica, sea creatures are dying from the loss of krill as ocean temperatures rise and there is the over-fishing of the oceans. To compensate for loss of wild fish, humans are keeping fish in pens at sea, but disease is a problem for the salmon, prawn and oyster industries.

    Land clearing creates loss of habitat and every year here in Oz we kill millions of native creatures. On the vast agricultural plains we can hear no bird-song.

    It is hard to understand why the mining of an area of Queensland the size of five Sydney Harbours and the shipping of millions of tonnes of coal to be burnt can be morally defensible. Certainly not by the claim of raising millions of Indian peasants out of poverty or the provision of thousands of jobs for Queenslanders.

    No mention of Climate Change. It is all about “business”, apparently. And it is a business which has been creeping up on us for some years now. Secret industrial agreements have been signed despite every indicator showing that the Adani deal is a sham, but it is Climate Change which is accused of being the sham – even though the deniers have no coherent science to disprove the IPCC facts.

    Instead, we get distractions. Look over there, Chinese coal-fired power stations! Oh look, it wasn’t wild winds which blew down the power poles in SA; it was the failure of renewables! Oh, look at the poor Indians crying out for coal! Look at all the unemployed crying out for jobs!

    But Oz is being played for suckers, wedged by the unemployment threat (what? no other jobs but digging holes in the ground?) and by the promise of money.

    But Queensland will pay heavily for it. The truth is that Adani is a failed business model and is in dire need of cash to save it, so Oz councils and Fed government will pay – as will taxpayers. Have they worked out the cost per job?

    So the Greens – and not just the Greens – are getting a sledging for telling the truth: that the whole “business” is based on fibs. It is indeed an obscenity.

  11. jim

    Of course don’t mention the LNPs support of Adani .

  12. diannaart

    Thank you Binoy for another well-thought out and researched article.

    Corruption seems to be letting out whatever it has a heart on its sleeve – lessening the “Oops, I forgot to declare that” no, now we have, “Yeah, we declared it, so what?”

    The neo-lib/cons are getting mighty audacious.

    @guest & Keith

    “Climate Change” apparently means “Voldemort” to the fossil fuel industry and their lackeys.

  13. Phil

    Love Binoy’s writing – he’s got it down to a fine art.

    This for instance: A perfect world, one that reconciles insatiable plunder with immaculate conservation.

    How very Queensland!

    Adani sure has Queenslanders political idiots by the short and curlies – a state of suckers for a scam of monumental proportions

  14. helvityni

    Yes Phil, I’m also a Binoy fan.

    “The cicadas are studding the night with their sound, and occasionally, the curlews manifest with calls that string out a melody of mournful death.”

    You read that and you want to read some more… 🙂

  15. wam

    Lovely read surely adani is dead in the water table?? A few doors down is a wrecked house with curlews nesting under a stump and their call brings back the memories of camping in kakadu 40 years ago.
    Absolutely eerie and haunting then the flaming scrub fowl start callin to destroy the memories but I love them too despite them destroying the garden because they are real not murky.

  16. paul walter

    The Chinese are interfering, so it also about foreign labour.

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