Article – Newman backs Galilee Basin projects

17 November 2014
Amy Remeikis
Queensland Country Life
COME hell, high-water or – worse – lack of private investment, the Queensland government is going to make sure the Galilee Basin is “open for business”.
In his excitement at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit on Sunday, Premier Campbell Newman pre-empted Monday’s big announcement that the state government would be prepared to fund the infrastructure needed to get the Galilee Basin projects happening.
“We’ll be saying, if necessary, we’ll be prepared to invest in infrastructure, core infrastructure, common-use infrastructure, we’ll be making the case that we are prepared to do that to get this going,” he said on Sunday morning.
“The role of the government, given the financial situation we face these days, the role would be to make targeted investments to help get something going and then within a few years time exit those investments so the private sector can then get on with it, but I stress, open to all comers – we just want a new coal resource basin to be opened up.”
Climate change and the need to take carbon emission reduction more seriously may have hijacked the G20 agenda, but privately, Tony Abbott reportedly repeated Australia’s commitment to coal, an attitude Mr Newman echoes.
The government sees the Galilee Basin as key to turning around the state’s economy. Gas projects initiated under the previous Labor governments are transitioning from the construction to production phase and shedding jobs at a rapid rate.
Mr Newman has said previously he wanted to see preliminary works on the Galilee Basin projects, the most significant of which is the Indian company Adani’s Carmichael mine, set to be the largest coal mine in Australia, begin early next year.
So far the private sector has had issues securing the funding needed to begin work. Mr Newman has not said how the government would fund the infrastructure or whether it would be part of its asset sales agenda.
But the announcement has already created ripples.
Director of Energy Resource Studies Australasia at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), Tim Buckley, said it was a financially irresponsible decision, and labelled the Galilee Basin projects “unviable”.
“Many would consider this a government simply pissing taxpayers’ money up against the wall,” he said in a statement.
“The people of Queensland and Australia should be outraged at this idea of questionable politicians spending many billions of tax payer dollars to make an unviable, unwanted and dangerous mega coal project a reality.
“The Galilee coal projects are totally commercially unviable. Any project undertaken is highly likely to end up as a stranded fossil fuel asset as the rest of the world rapidly transitions to lower carbon solutions. Coal has entered structural decline – there is no two ways about that fact.”
Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters labelled it a bad decision, for both the environment and economy.
“Not only is this environmentally disastrous, it’s economically insane, especially when you’re spending the state’s public wealth,” she said.
More information is expected to be released on Monday.
<i> - Picture: Peter Braig.</i>
Courtesy of Queensland Country Life