Matt Canavan, aka the Minister for Adani, has hit the ground running after the courts decided his Mum’s application for him to have Italian citizenship did not preclude him from serving in parliament.
In an article in the Australian on October 26, Canavan claimed that “green activists have been abusing our judicial system to further a political agenda”. This from the man whose government leaked information to the media about police raids on union headquarters to secure information that had already been given to their previous union witch hunt, the Trade Unions Royal Commission.
Canavan talks about “foreign greenies” because, of 10 protesters arrested by police last month, only two, from Airlie Beach and Mackay, could be considered “locals”. Of the other eight, three were from Canberra, and the rest were from Brisbane and NSW.
Excuse me Matt but I don’t think you can call other Australians foreigners. Some of us have a much longer heritage here than you.
He talks disparagingly about the “US-based Rockefeller Family Fund created with profits from the US oil boom” who apparently funded an action plan produced by GetUp!, Greenpeace, Lock the Gate and the Environmental Defenders’ Offices.
The Rockefeller Family Fund has said that it will divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and “eliminate holdings” of Exxon Mobil Corp, saying the oil company associated with the family fortune has misled the public about climate change risks.
Canavan claims that the traditional owners of the land where the mine will be located, the Wangan and Jagalingou people, voted 293 to one in favour of the mine last year. But the spokesperson for Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owner Council Adrian Burragubba said: “The registration of Adani’s sham land use agreement is being challenged by us because it was engineered through rent-a-crowds, deceit and dishonest tactics.”
In evidence submitted to the Federal Court, the W&J argue the attendance record at the meeting organised and paid for by Adani shows that many attendees were not present at prior native title group authorisation meetings, and are not Wangan and Jagalingou claimants.
Canavan said he agrees with the prominent Indigenous academic Marcia Langton’s speech to the Minerals Council of Australia that much of the green opposition to development projects that Aboriginal people support amounts to the second coming of terra nullius. “These greenies are just the latest army of whitefellas the Wangan and Jagalingou people have had to fight.”
Tony McAvoy SC, who became Australia’s first Indigenous silk in 2015, dismissed these claims by Langton that Indigenous people had become “collateral damage” as the “environmental industry” hijacked the Adani issue.
He said the rhetoric of Langton and Warren Mundine, who likened anti-Adani campaigners to colonial oppressors running roughshod over Indigenous self-determination, “serves a purpose for them but is just so inaccurate”.
The barrister said to suggest that “the greens are puppet masters pulling the strings and we’re somehow puppets” was wildly off the mark and disrespectful to the many families opposing the mine, including his. Langton’s “jobs at any cost” rhetoric is hers and hers alone. Her complete disregard for the environmental cost of this mine and the company’s atrocious record make her just another mouthpiece for vested interests as well as her own political advancement.
Strangely, Langton didn’t mention CO2, climate change, the Great Barrier Reef, or renewables and the jobs and opportunities they could also provide, just without the pollution.
Instead, she dialled up the rhetoric to attack environmentalists, calling them anarchists, the alienated, uninformed, extremists, dangerous and deceptive. Her thrust was that naughty environmentalists are cleverly exploiting Indigenous people using “sophisticated manoeuvres” and “flimsy evidence” to conduct “lawfare”. Talking of flimsy evidence, Ms Langton couldn’t provide a single example of these subversive activities. And you thought academics liked evidence?
When Canavan appeared on Q&A a few weeks ago, he was asked “Should the High Court rule on your citizenship issues in your favour and you return to your role as resource minister… will you continue to advocate to loan Adani $1 billion of taxpayers’ money, despite all the evidence that proved the Carmichael coal mine is economically unviable, that Adani will deliberately attempt to not pay any tax, will seek to automate all the jobs away, and leave a devastating wake of environmental destruction?”
Canavan waxed lyrical about the “opening up of the Galilee Basin” and rosy job prospects and following the wishes of the traditional owners, with absolutely no facts to back up his bullshit.
If he persists in his endeavour to gift taxpayer funds to an unprofitable foreign business with a shocking record of environmental and financial breaches of the law, then he can expect this “foreigner” from NSW to get very active in opposing his subsidies for foreign business against the wishes of the traditional owners of the land and against all commercial and environmental considerations.