Those words were taken from Don Maclean’s ballad Vincent a tribute to Vincent van Gogh. The way this government toys with us, it’s enough to make you want to scream as Norwegian expressionist artist Edvard Munch may have said back in 1893 when he created his cry from the soul of humanity.
When it comes to the Morrison, Joyce government, not only do they not listen, they don’t care what we think, they are driven by their own egos, ideology and big business interests.
The recent G7 meeting in Cornwall, England in May came out with a commitment to stop international financing of coal projects by the end of 2021 and to progressively phase out such support for all fossil fuels, to meet globally agreed climate change targets. Australia is not a member of the G7 but Scott Morrison was there as an observer but evidently missed this bit, possibly because he was quaffing scrumpy cider and eating Cornish pasties in appropriately quaint pubs.
Do you remember the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility better known as the NAIF, set up in 2016 with a bank of $5 billion to provide loans to new and innovative ventures in the North of Australia – essentially from the Tropic of Capricorn North. At the time it was thought by some naughty left-wing people that this may be a National Party slush fund but to counter any such mischievous thinking, it was written into the legislation that loans could only proceed with the approval, not only of the NAIF board, but also the government of the relevant state or territory – essentially Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia which, the more perceptive of you will have noted all have Labor governments.
After five years the NAIF had to be reviewed and among the matters that the federal government thought appropriate was to bypass the approval of the state and territory governments (to streamline the process you understand), to allow the federal government not only to ‘lend’ money to worthy enterprises but also to take an ‘equity’ position in such enterprises – that means that the money doesn’t actually have to be paid back which was an innovation sought by the National Party.
The state veto got up the federal government’s nose when they wanted to lend money to Adani. If you remember, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took the position that money should not be loaned to the Adani project writing to then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stating
‘…my Government provides formal notification to the Commonwealth that financial assistance should not be provided to Adani for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. As such the Government is exercising its veto right under section 13(4) of the Investment Facility Mandate in response to the Adani loan application.’
In January last the NAIF Board approved loan funding of $280 million for the Kaban Green Energy Hub a renewable energy project located in the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland. The project consists of a 157 MW wind farm with approval for a 100 MW battery backup and a network upgrade. It came as a surprise when the minister responsible for the NAIF, National party stalwart Keith Pitt, decided to use his discretion under the act and stop the loan. He said at the time that the funding was ‘inconsistent with the objectives and policies of the commonwealth’.
So, quite a few eyebrows were raised when the NAIF recently announced a $175 million loan to develop a new coalmine in central Queensland.
So far the minister has not exercised his discretion to veto this loan of public money so we must assume that it is ‘consistent with the objectives and policies of the commonwealth’.
So, to those of you who may have cynically said that the NAIF was a National Party slush fund : it seems you were spot on !
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