Greenies stink a threat to trade
GREENIES who used a skink as a “patsy” to help kill off a coal mine in Queensland could have damaged free-trade agreement negotiations with India, according to Trade Minister Andrew Robb.
Yesterday he revealed Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to conclude an FTA but he was worried about “lawfare” by environmentalists.
“It was ‘lawfare’ brought about by activist groups to whom the skink is a patsy,” Mr Robb said yesterday. “They wanted to kill the (Indian mining giant Adani’s $16.5 billion coal mine in central Queensland) project because they don’t like fossil fuels.
“You think that’s not going to change India’s appetite to get an agreement with Australia this year? It makes it all the more difficult.”
Mr Robb hit out at the activists after Indian High Commissioner Navdeep Suri raised concerns with him recently over the rescinding of approval for the Adani mine.
The Federal Court recently set aside the approval of the coal mine because it found Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not considered advice about the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.
Mr Robb also hit out at unions for scaremongering about the Government’s freetrade agreement with China.
“(On Tuesday) the Electrical Trade Union ran so-called robo-calls into tens of thousands of households in my 66,000-household electorate,” he said. “The recorded telephone message maliciously asserted that the FTA that I have negotiated with China permitted unqualified electricians to invade Australia, putting the safety of Australians at ... risk.
“Of course, the ETU knows full well this is a lie, yet they continue to peddle this scaremongering to (the) Australian community. I ask you: Why would I put the safety of my fellow Australians at risk?
“Nor would I do anything that threatens the jobs of Australians. It explains why the labour provisions associated with the China FTA sits within our existing skilled visa program – not a single legislative change is required.”
Labor is refusing to reveal whether it would use a backdoor mechanism to kill the FTA with China.
Opposition trade spokeswoman Penny Wong yesterday released an opinion piece on whether the agreement was in the national interest.
“Tony Abbott has a reputation for breaking promises – and safeguards in Australia’s temporary migration system may be set to become the latest,” Senator Wong said.
“Labor will seek to maintain critical safeguards in response to the labour movement provisions in the China-Australia free-trade agreement.”