7 August 2015
The West Australian
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned against the use of courts to “sabotage” developments, after approval for a massive India-backed coal mine was revoked on a legal challenge.
The Federal Court this week set aside approval for Adani’s Aus$16.5 billion (US$12.2 billion) Carmichael coal mine in Queensland state, a project which critics argue risks impacting the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
“If a vital national project can be endlessly delayed, if the courts can be turned into a means of sabotaging projects which are striving to meet the highest environmental standards, then we have a real problem as a nation,” he told The Australian in comments published Friday.
“We can’t become a nation of naysayers; we have to remain a nation that gives people a fair go if they play by the rules.”
The court has not revealed its reasons for revoking approval, but officials have said it was because departmental advice to Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who approved the mine, may not have met all technical requirements.
Lawyers for the environmentalists say the advice related to two vulnerable reptiles — the lizard-like yakka skink and the ornamental snake, both of which are only found in Queensland.
Abbott, whose conservative government has promised to be “open for business” since winning power in 2013 and who has spoken repeatedly about the importance of the coal industry to Australia’s prosperity, said the mine was important for the economy and jobs.
“This coal will power up the lives of 100 million people in India,” Abbott told reporters in Tasmania on Friday, adding this made the project important “not just for Australia, but for the wider world”.
The development proposes exporting coal to India via a massive open-cut and underground coal mining some 160 kilometres (100 miles) northwest of Clermont in central Queensland, as well as a 189-kilometre rail link to port.
Environmentalists challenged its approval on the basis of the amount of greenhouse gases the burning of the coal will create, the project’s impact on vulnerable species and Adani’s “poor environmental record”.
They have also protested against its potential impact on the Great Barrier Reef due to coal from the mine being shipped out from a nearby port and the impact of climate change.
Adani has said it is committed to ensuring its mine, rail and port projects in Queensland are developed and operated in line with Australian law, including strict environmental conditions.
Minister Hunt will reconsider his decision based on new advice from the Environment Department, which is expected to take six to eight weeks to prepare.
Courtesy of the West Australian