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Protesting Against Adani: The National Day of Action

Melbourne.

“Be careful, you might get run over.” So squawks an administrator from the local RMIT University as she dashes towards Princess Park, Melbourne. The need for this jet propulsion enthusiasm is clear: a gathering is being organised in the park, amongst other venues, in a national day of action. The bogeyman? The Indian monster mining concern, Adani.

Across some 45 venues in Australia, protestors gathered, banners flown, speeches given. “I have a two-year old daughter,” exclaimed Bondi surf life saver Simon Fosterling at the Sydney end of the protest on Saturday, “and I don’t want to have a conversation with her in 10 years time and the mine’s gone ahead and she says to me ‘dad, why didn’t you do something’.”

Adani is one of many examples how a world after democracy works, with a country’s functionaries – in this case Australia’s – no better than bureaucrats pushing the agenda of the unelected, giving funeral orations on sovereignty. Exit democracy; welcome lobbies and sweetheart deals.

When members of parliament enthusiastically extend their hands to a company which has little intention of being left to the predations of the free market, we know that the world has been inverted. Natural economic selection might be what is promoted by the free-traders, but the practice is a fiction.

Behind many a significant Australian politician is a staffer, a lobbyist, or an obscure official with some profane tie to the natural resource industry. (Think Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Adani lobbyist and Bill Shorten’s former chief of staff Cameron Milner).

In Australia, those against market intervention, coddling and backing fortunate “winners” against unfortunate losers, don different hats when to comes to certain industries. In those instances, parliamentarians become socialists for the corporation, divvying up tax dollars for those engaged in sacred pursuits, especially those renting the earth.

Be it a fawning Labor government in Queensland (water rights and royalty concessions) or the accommodating Conservative government in Canberra (a huge loan), Australian politicians have been salivating at every chance to throw money at the Indian concern. This is rampant corporate colonialism, and the natives have arms widely stretched in almost treasonous welcome.

The glowing achievement of this effort will be a near billion dollar loan for the company, footed by the Australian tax payer via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. The money will subsidise a proposed railway line from the mine site in the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point coal port.

The effort is all the more impressive in its soiled quality given the steadfast refusal by the banking sector to fork out anything for the corporation. Adani’s efforts have so far failed to convince any major bank that their Australian coal venture is a sound one. Coal is seeing its last days, and only the dinosaurs continue worshipping at its shrine.

The impetus for some of the organisers behind the Saturday protest came from the juicy outlining of Adani’s exploits in the ABC’s Four Corners program, though Stop Adani and a range of groups have been busy documenting the company’s exploits for some years. The court record of the company, spanning employment, environmental and criminal law, is thick.

The ABC team did much in revealing the nature of Adani’s corrupt modus operandi while also receiving a disconcerting welcome at the hands of police whilst being detained in an Indian hotel. But it also revealed a stunned former Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, who could barely believe that Australia’s public purse was being allied to the company’s venture. “I’m very, very surprised that the Australian government, uh, for whatever reason, uh, has uh, seen it fit, uh, to all along handhold Mr Adani.”

A central fear about its proposed operations is what will happen to the environment, most notably the already imperilled Great Barrier Reef. Ravaged by coral bleaching and climate change, the reef’s fragile existence is further threatened by an Indian family’s private interests. Imagine, for instance, a repeat of the 2011 oil spill off the coast of Mumbai, where an unseaworthy vessel carrying 60,054 metric tonnes of Adani coal found its way to the bottom of the ocean.

Added to that the company’s reluctance in pursuing cleaning up operations, and the picture gets gloomier, given that 60 million tones of coal could be passing through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

The company’s operations over the years reveal a persistent track record of ecological criminality and despoliation, thinning out tourism industries, destroying beaches and poisoning rivers. To this can be added contentious and patently dangerous employment practices, some involving child labour.

To add a delightful rounder to the resume, Adani is also adept in its book keeping. Evading taxation is one of its fortes, with Environmental Justice Australia and Earthjustice noting how “13 of the 26 Adani subsidiaries registered in Australia are ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands.” This must surely be the more ironic, if fiendishly brilliant endeavour: to avoid paying tax while receiving tax funds.

Saturday saw the release by the Stop Adani group of polling figures by ReachTEL that 56 percent of Australians were against the mine. (This, of course, is hardly overwhelming opposition, but counts as something).

The movement against Adani has found public voice, and gathering momentum. Environmental prudence is finally finding steam, supported by apocalyptic visions of poisoned reefs and river beds. The political agents of mismanagement are, however, ready to do their worst. Mining fundamentalism remains in charge.

 


10 comments

  1. Karlo

    We are just so lucky in this country that corruption doesn’t exist.

  2. Andreas Bimba

    We step by step transitioned from a reasonable form of democracy in the mid 1970’s to the crony capitalist corporate oligarchy we have now where the will of the people is effectively irrelevant.

    The US democratic system is even more compromised by the big corporations and other vested interests. This article shows how the US Congress fails to act in accordance with the will of citizens.

    http://www.upworthy.com/20-years-of-data-reveals-that-congress-doesnt-care-what-you-think

    What needs to happen to restore true democracy:

    If the duopoly won’t or can’t reform then we must transition to a multi-party political system. This would necessitate that
    proportional representation voting be adopted for the important lower houses of our parliaments, such as the Tasmanian Hare-Clark electoral system or the German or NZ MMP system.

    The substantial influence of corporate money and lobbyists over government,must be curtailed. Election campaigns should be publicly funded and much more tightly regulated.

    The mass media must end it’s current role as the propaganda arm of the Conservatives and to a lesser extent Labor. The ABC and SBS should return to offering a predominately progressive perspective that balances the commercial mass media.

    The standard of journalism especially specialist investigative journalism must be greatly improved. The electorate must become better informed and actively participate in making democracy work.

    A permanent ICAC is necessary to deal with corruption.of politicians.

  3. Anthony

    Another insightful piece Binoy.
    Yes, ‘democracy’ and “rampant corporate colonialism” – same page. The ‘democratic’ public votes, but they may as well not bother as the agenda’s already been set. That almost 50 percent of the public thinks the Adani scam is a good thing tells us that a complicit mainstream media has dumbed down its audience to its level of stupid.
    As for “environmental prudence”, that seems to be a non-priority. Four Corners PFAS Contamination episode last night showed how our government caused, then ignored pollution in drinking water for years. PFAS chemicals were phased out of production in the USA between 2000-02, it took another 10 years before changes here.
    It is possible to conduct business in such a manner that the wider public and environment are a first consideration and not some inconvenient afterthought when things go belly up, companies just need to understand that profits are not everything. All in good time I hope?

  4. James Cook

    Andeas B. , couldn’t agree more! My questionis, HOW do we make that transition to a fairer democracy? As soon as someone comes up with an alternative, fairer outlook, the MSM pillories them! It’s going to take someone with guts AND an ability to cut through the bullshit AND be able to effectively communicate with the bulk of the public, even in the face of vigorous opposition and ridicule from the usual suspects. Anyone out there up to the job???

  5. Jagger

    Andreas Bimba, please tell me who is the Labor mass media propaganda arm? And who would you like to run the “permanent ICAC, Mike Baird on George Brandis?
    James Cook “ anyone out there up for the job” why don’t you put your hand up, you seem to know what’s needed.

  6. James Cook

    Jagger, thanks for the endorsement but, unlike many of our “leaders”, I know I do not possess the qualities to be a “leader”. I would, however, nominate John Lord and/or Kaye Lee for the job. Alone, or as a team, they would be formidable IMHO.

  7. Andreas Bimba

    James and Jagger.

    “As soon as someone comes up with an alternative, fairer outlook, the MSM pillories them!”

    Your comment James gets to the heart of the matter. Even though nearly all of the commercial MSM relentlessly broadcasts political propaganda that suits the agenda of the current corporate oligarchy and their political wing – the Liberal and National Parties, they also act as overwhelmingly powerful gatekeepers of which political representatives will be able to win office.

    The commercial MSM in my opinion also have a tacit agreement with the ALP that they will moderate their attacks on the ALP and give them some airtime, which is critical during election campaigns, if some key policy areas are maintained by the ALP for example maintaining fiscal responsibility which is code for austerity and small government, allowing the ongoing plunder of our natural resources by local and foreign capital, allowing the further expansion of our fossil fuel extraction sector, being half hearted with tackling global warming, environmental conservation and animal welfare, maintaining the superannuation rort which currently charges fees of $25 billion p.a., continuing with the totally free trade agenda that has led to the loss of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of mostly working class jobs, letting the financial services sector – leech to become an ever larger percentage of GDP (Labor’s proposed banking sector royal commission may introduce improvements but don’t expect structural reform), continuing with nearly all of the Coalition’s neo-liberal agenda and so on.

    Take health care for example, Abbott cuts over $50 billion and the ALP promise to increase expenditure by about $5 billion if they win office because they are ‘fiscally responsible’. Net loss $45 billion for no good reason as austerity is a con by the corporate right to shrink government that stupidly also shrinks the private sector. Neoliberal team B is playing the same tune but with a few sweeteners. If the ALP had any integrity they would be like Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders and offer good policy even if that may make them a bigger political target for our corporate oligarchy.

    The Greens by gradually winning supporters and eventually lower house seats, force the ALP to consider the progressive swing voter and not just the conservative swing voter.

    The Greens are relentlessly portrayed as crazy, irresponsible, anti job extremists but many are beginning to see through these lies and attacks by the commercial and government owned MSM are becoming a badge of honour. I also recall a near total media blackout of the Greens over the last week of the last federal election campaign while Labor retained almost equal coverage as the Coalition. The micro-parties and independents are generally portrayed as crazies or are ignored totally by the mass media.

    It is a good tactic to exploit the media’s desire for ratings and entertainment by ‘creating content’ that exploits this avenue. Humour and ridicule (eg. Michael Moore, Shaun Micallef, John Safran), protest marches, rallies like the Bernie Sander’s campaign, stunts, pranks, mass civil disobedience, music and concerts and celebrity participation can gain media coverage.

    Bill and Hillary Clinton’s election campaigns used concerts with leading artists very effectively many of which were broadcast nationally but admittedly they were establishment candidates so had preferential coverage.

    To break through, many strategies will be needed and progressive people should look at their own situation, who they know and can influence, their own strengths and weaknesses and be creative, be brave and make a difference. Eventually these small efforts may coalesce to become a tide as the electorate is mightily pissed off with the neoliberal duopoly at the moment.

    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/concentrated-media-ownership-a-crisis-for-democracy,3259

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/hillary-clinton-concerts-strategy-230784

  8. Harquebus

    It’s all about energy. Always has been and always will be.
    I also am anti jobs. Consuming precious finite resources in order create jobs is stupid. Working yourself to death takes on a whole new meaning when the environmental damage jobs cause is factored.

    “To destroy your home planet’s ecosystems for imaginary wealth is highly illogical.” — Mr. Spock.

    “Conventional economics goes wrong in thinking that this ‘financial’ economy is the entirety of our economic system. In fact, it is in a subservient relationship with the energy economy. This ought to be obvious. After all, money has no intrinsic worth. It commands value only as a “claim” on the output of the real economy.”
    “The powers that be haven’t been sufficiently irresponsible to adopt some of the more extreme expedients. But what they have done has been bad enough. Ultimately, we have adopted a policy of ultra-cheap money, slashing policy interest rates to all-but-zero, and using vast amounts of newly-created money to drive asset values up, and yields down.”
    “By driving returns on capital down into negative territory, we have destroyed returns on capital and, with them, our ability to provide for retirement.”
    https://surplusenergyeconomics.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/108-seeds-goes-public/

    “As governments struggle to service their new citizens’ needs, the Nile is soaking up more and more of the shortfall.
    “We’ve always treated the river badly, we’ve always assumed it was big enough,””
    “By the time the river reaches Cairo, it is utterly filthy.”
    “If you think about it. We’re growing and the river’s not”
    “We worshipped the river, but now we want nothing to do with it”
    “I would prefer to make my living from the Nile, like my father, like my father’s father, but that’s just not possible any more”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/death_of_the_nile

    “A mysterious hole as big as the state of Maine has been spotted in Antarctica’s winter sea ice cover.”
    “It’s just remarkable that this polynya went away for 40 years and then came back.”
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/sea-ice-hole-antarctica-southern-ocean-spd/
    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/wjx9w4/a-giant-mysterious-hole-has-opened-up-in-antarctica

    “Official documents of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the largest intergovernmental body after the United Nations, reveal that countries across the Muslim world are privately alarmed by the risk of major energy, food and water crises in coming years.”
    “The renewable energy target put forward by the document is for a measly 10% by 2025?—?nowhere near enough to curb fossil fuel emissions from the OIC’s worst polluters.
    Instead, the document hypes up nuclear energy, noting that many OIC countries are “planning to start constructing nuclear power plants”.”
    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/documents-reveal-middle-east-regimes-fear-food-water-energy-shortages-exclusive-61b30a5c5ce8

    “In the United States today, less than 1% of the population produces all of the food for the entire society. Given this remarkable efficiency, it is worth asking why the rest of us work 40–50 hours a week, often with considerable psychological stress.”
    “Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others.”
    http://peaksurfer.blogspot.com/2017/10/giving-ethical-murder-itsdue.html

    “But new satellite data shows that the weather phenomenon El Nino is to blame, because it led to dry spells that put stress on plants and trees across the tropics, and made it harder for them to perform their important role of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
    https://phys.org/news/2017-10-huge-spike-global-carbon-emissions.html

    “Unfortunately, energy analysts, who are clueless to the amount of destruction taking place in the U.S. and global oil industry by the falling EROI, continue to mislead a public that is totally unprepared for what is coming.”
    https://srsroccoreport.com/worlds-largest-oil-companies-deep-trouble-as-profits-vaporize-while-debts-skyrocket/

    “These party elites, consumed by greed, myopia and a deep cynicism, have a death grip on the political process. They’re not going to let it go, even if it all implodes.”
    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/elites-no-credibility-left-interview-journalist-chris-hedges/

    “The entire global financial system is based on debt, and this debt-based system endlessly funnels the wealth of the world to the very, very top of the pyramid.”
    “Money is a form of social control, and by getting the rest of us into as much debt as possible they are able to get all of us to work for their economic benefit.”
    “All over the planet, national governments are drowning in debt, and this didn’t happen by accident.”
    http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/how-the-elite-dominate-the-world-part-1-debt-as-a-tool-of-enslavement

    “And then globalization itself is in trouble. The very beneficiaries, the owners of globalization will be. Though not before they have taken away most of the fruits of our labor.”
    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/10/globalization-is-poverty/

  9. Anthony

    Best practice White elephant = Adani

    Donate $1B from NAIF plus give Adani a $600M royalty holiday in exchange for the export of 50 million tonnes of coal per year (energy equivalent of about 35 x 500 megawatt power stations). Lots of energy to give away, why bother getting value for money, or any money for that matter? The State govts and MSM are at the top of their game, corporate welfare is very important.

    Now it appears that China is going to get involved.
    The ATO should get its cheque book ready for when the inevitable ‘failures’ start rolling in.

    Australian Government Guarantee: Free Resources or your money back!

    “Adani’s Australian mining project was not viable, but said support from Chinese state-owned enterprises and Chinese export credit agencies could change that.
    “The risk is that the combination of a billion-dollar subsidised loan from the Federal Government from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, a $600 million royalty holiday from the Queensland Government and support from Chinese state-owned enterprises could mean that this project is able to achieve financial close,” Mr Buckley said. If the deal does go ahead with backing from Chinese state-owned enterprises, it could see Australia providing big direct and indirect subsidies to a company effectively owned by an Indian billionaire and the Chinese Government.”
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-02/adani-chinese-state-owned-companies-in-deal-to-bankroll-mine/9109880

    edit: The best result is that in the wake of this month’s Qld elections, the costings come out showing the mine is not viable and the whole scam gets cancelled.
    Bye bye Adani.

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