In supporting the Adani coal mine has Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk contradicted her pre-election promises to defend the Great Barrier Reef and promote ecologically sustainable development? AIMN reader Miriam English puts this to the Premier in this letter.
I was filled with great hope and happiness when you and your government were elected here in Queensland, deposing the callous and autocratic Newman government, however I’ve since become worried about what is happening to you and your government. Many friends who are firm Labor supporters attempt to quell my fears, saying that you have good and sensible reasons for what you’re doing, though their explanations don’t really sound very plausible to me.
Please, please let me know the truth. I’d like to support you, but am increasingly concerned that you may have abandoned your voters.
Can you please let me know why you support the Adani coal mine despite all the evidence against it?
Jobs. Even Adani’s own accountants admit he lied that it would provide many jobs, as it would be one of the most heavily automated mines in the world. It won’t provide the 10,000 jobs he was fond of saying. It will be unlikely to provide more than a few dozen ongoing jobs. Balanced against the Barrier Reef and all the hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect long term jobs it provides, the mine seems a bad choice. And that’s not to mention all the countless jobs and long term potential income to Queensland if we fostered growth in the booming renewable energy fields rather than the collapsing market for coal.
Money. Adani has a very bad record of gaming the system and of outright corruption. Queensland won’t see tax income from the coal mine. He will undervalue what it mines, ship it through tax haven countries, jacking its value up, then to India where he will sell it at vast profit, with Australia seeing none of that money. The billion dollars the federal government wants to give him will likely go straight to the Caymans. I find it difficult to believe we’ll see a cent of that invested here. Australia, and more importantly, Queensland, will lose enormous amounts of money from this mine. Compare that with the Great Barrier Reef which reliably generates billions of dollars via tourism, being one of the greatest wonders of the world. And let’s not forget the flow of money from technological and medicinal developments that are constantly coming out of rich ecosystems, such as the Reef. Also, worldwide, far more money was invested last year in renewable energy than in coal. Renewable energy is now a booming industry. Every dollar spent on coal is a dollar not spent in tomorrow’s renewable energy bonanza.
Market. The coal market has collapsed and continues to free-fall all around the world. China and India have stopped more than 100 coal projects. USA has no new coal-fired power stations intended and is gradually decommissioning all their old ones. Scotland has now gone completely coal-free. Beijing has just this past weekend closed the last of its coal-fired power plants. China’s peak coal use was in 2013 and is falling rapidly. India has declared it will end all coal imports in a couple of years. The world’s largest coal companies have been going broke as the demand for coal falls through the floor. Now is the very worst time to open a new coal mine. No financial group wants to invest in it — it’s why Adani turned to the Australian government for handouts. In contrast, the worldwide market for renewable energy is booming. Queensland is uniquely positioned to cash in on that… if our government removes the roadblocks. We could be making billions from renewable energy technology instead of wasting billions on coal.
Law. The law on Aboriginal Land Rights states that their land can’t be stolen from them. They must agree to any use of their land. They don’t agree to the Adani mine. That should be the end of it. So… we steal it anyway? The transparently illegal swindle of changing the law to make the theft superficially “legal” doesn’t actually make it right or moral. It is still illegal under international law and violates UN treaties we’ve signed. How can anybody have respect for a government that doesn’t respect its own laws? How can anybody have respect for laws so easily perverted?
Environment. Adani has a terrible record of environmental vandalism, even flouting local laws and bribing local officials rather than fixing such damage. He is the last person to be allowed anywhere near Australia’s hyper-delicate ecosystems.
Climate. We would have no hope of meeting our CO2 emissions limits if the Adani mine goes ahead. Climate change is a genuine problem for all of the world, but especially for Australia with our proneness to drought and heatwaves. 97% of climate scientists around the world agree on the danger of global climate destabilisation. If you asked 100 doctors for diagnosis of a pain and 97 diagnosed you with early stage cancer, but 3 said you’re fine and to ignore it, who would you believe? If you believed the 3, how about after you find they’re funded by organ harvesting companies? Coal and climate change are killing the Reef. The recent collapse of coal around the world is the first good news we’ve had on climate change for a long time. It means we just might be able to stabilise temperatures, and actually work toward reducing them again. If the Adani mine goes ahead that is a threat to that. If instead we encourage renewable energy we can create jobs, make money, improve our image, and meet our emissions obligations. We might even be able to save some of the Reef.
Energy. Coal is a dirty, polluting energy source. Even if it didn’t have so many drawbacks, it is simply more expensive now than wind power and solar thermal energy. Solar photovoltaics now rivals coal in cost, and as its efficiency and price trend continues, will soon be more profitable yet less costly than coal. Queensland has far more sunshine available than most places around the world. Geothermal “hot rocks” are also available to Queensland for similar cost as coal. It seems to be irrational to continue to subsidise a dirty, expensive energy source when we have such easy availability of sun and wind. People might suggest that coal gives baseload electricity, but so do solar thermal power stations — they give power 24/7. Smart grids, like the Northern European countries have built also allow wind to provide baseload power. Most Australians live along the coast, which is where wind power is most predictable, with the temperature differential between land and water causing wind to blow from the water onto land during the day and land to water during the night. Solar photovoltaics electricity can also be evened out using batteries.
I hope you can calm my fears and explain your reasons for apparently contradicting your pre-election promises to defend the Reef, promote ecologically sustainable development, and limit global warming.
There are two wolves and they’re always fighting.
One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope.
Which wolf wins?
Whichever one you feed.
— Casey in Brad Bird’s movie “Tomorrowland”
Would anybody else like to contact the Annastacia Palaszczuk about their similar concerns? You can reach her via her Contact the Premier page here).