HOLY RAIL

Han­son: Giv­ing Adani Galilee line is sac­ri­lege

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - DOMANII CAMERON

PAULINE Han­son has called on the Fed­eral Governme Gov­ern­ment to fully fund the Galilee rail line fol­low­ing re­port re­ports Adani would con­sider one day sell­ing 49 per cent of th the in­fras­truc­ture.

Se­na­tor Han­son last night told the Bulletin it was com­mon sense that the Com­mon­wealth should fund the rail line in a bid to gen­er­ate profit for Queens­land tax­pay­ers.

She raised con­cerns a pri­vate rail line could cause prob­lems for com­peti­tors ex­tract­ing coal in the Galilee. Adani dis­missed the claims last night, say­ing it would pro­vide an open- ac­cess rail line from the Galilee Basin.

“We’re not mak­ing any­thing ( money) out of it ( rail line),” Se­na­tor Han­son said.

“I put two and two to­gether.” Adani is wait­ing on a de­ci­sion by the North­ern Australia In­fras­truc­ture Fa­cil­ity, which is con­sid­er­ing pro­vid­ing a $ 900 mil­lion con­ces­sional loan for the miner to build the line from its Carmichael Mine to Ab­bot Point.

ONE Na­tion Se­na­tor Pauline Han­son has called on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to fully fund the Galilee rail line fol­low­ing re­ports Adani would con­sider one day sell­ing 49 per cent of the in­fras­truc­ture.

Se­na­tor Han­son last night told the Bulletin it was com­mon sense that the Com­mon­wealth should fund the rail line in a bid to gen­er­ate profit for Queens­land tax­pay­ers.

She raised con­cerns a pri­vate rail line could cause prob­lems for com­peti­tors ex­tract­ing coal in the Galilee.

Adani dis­missed the claims last night, say­ing it would pro­vide an open- ac­cess rail line from the Galilee Basin.

“We’re not mak­ing any­thing ( money) out of it ( rail line),” Se­na­tor Han­son said. “I put two and two to­gether.”

Adani is wait­ing on the North­ern Australia In­fras­truc­ture Fa­cil­ity, which is con­sid­er­ing pro­vid­ing a $ 900 mil­lion con­ces­sional loan for the miner to build the line.

The com­pany has al­ready started de­sign­ing the 388km line to Ab­bot Point and granted con­tracts for rail lines to Ar­rium and sleep­ers to Aus­trak.

Se­na­tor Han­son said that, when she had dis­cussed the issue with Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turnbull, he had ques­tioned why the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment would pay for in­fras­truc­ture that pri­vate en­ter­prise wanted to build.

“And I said ‘ the money you want to get out of it’,” she said.

“It makes com­mon sense that we build it and own it. No one else has picked up this whole thing. I am con­cerned about Adani sell­ing the mine and look­ing at prof­its from the rail line.”

Ms Han­son said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had to have a re­think on the issue.

“Adani isn’t go­ing any­where, it’s not go­ing to fall over be­cause of this,” she said.

“Pri­vati­sa­tion like with Wil­mar is that they con­trol it, there’s no guar­an­tees that they won’t charge ex­or­bi­tant costs.

“I’m sick and tired of see­ing our assets be­ing sold off.

“If we ( One Na­tion) get con­trol of Queens­land, we could use that money to a real ad­van­tage in in­fras­truc­ture projects and power prices.

“I’m not against the Adani mine ( and) build­ing and own­ing the rail­way line is not go­ing to af­fect the jobs or the steel that comes from Whyalla.”

Adani spokesman Ron Wat­son said the Indian miner was not con­sid­er­ing sell­ing 49 per cent of the rail line.

“The his­tory of the com­pany has very few if any joint ven­tures,” he said.

“We are a lo­gis­tics com­pany more than a miner, so own­ing and op­er­at­ing the line is what we want to do.

“It will gen­er­ate rev­enue that will re­pay loans.”

Mr Wat­son said Adani had “bought out” part­ners at Ab­bot Point to ob­tain 100 per cent eq­uity of the port.

“We are build­ing an ope­nac­cess, com­mon- user line for all,” he said.

“Our cost anal­y­sis says our op­er­at­ing costs will be cheaper than Aur­i­zon and there­fore our charges will be cheaper.”

PAULINE Han­son may strike a nerve to­day with her call to stop Adani … from own­ing the rail­way line that will con­nect its planned Carmichael coal mine with Bowen.

Her point, that a vi­tal piece of na­tion­build­ing in­fras­truc­ture should be owned by all of us, has per­haps been lost in the white noise and emo­tion over the en­tire project.

Far too many column inches have been wasted on such hy­po­thet­i­cal ques­tions as whether the mine will raise global tem­per­a­tures in the long term.

That is a pity be­cause this rail line is an issue at the heart of our na­tional in­ter­est.

It prom­ises to con­nect bil­lions of dol­lars worth of coal from pit to port, un­lock­ing the Galilee Basin’s job- gen­er­at­ing min­eral riches.

It will po­ten­tially link with dozens of fu­ture mines, some of them sit­ting on mas­sive coal de­posits that will be mined for at least a gen­er­a­tion.

As such, this track rep­re­sents a rev­enue stream op­por­tu­nity for all Aus­tralians.

That’s why Adani is so keen to build and op­er­ate it.

It stands to make bil­lions by charg­ing other min­ers to use it.

So Se­na­tor Han­son is right. We need to pause and con­sider the cost of hand­ing over th­ese rights to a pri­vate op­er­a­tor, let alone a for­eign en­ter­prise.

At the same time, this view should not be con­fused as an ar­gu­ment against the Adani de­vel­op­ment, full stop.

To the con­trary, we are re­assert­ing the mer­its of this project.

Af­ter all, it will de­liver bil­lions in roy­al­ties to our great state and thou­sands of jobs to North Queens­lan­ders.

We are merely ar­gu­ing for a model that max­imises tax­payer ben­e­fit.

It must be said Se­na­tor Han­son is only sing­ing from Bob Kat­ter’s song sheet – he has long de­clared his op­po­si­tion to hand­ing over such a vi­tal piece of in­fras­truc­ture to pri­vate in­ter­ests.

We do not want to repli­cate the sit­u­a­tion in Western Australia, where com­pet­ing pri­vate in­ter­ests choke the rail net­works con­nect­ing the Pil­bara mines to the port.

In a way, you could liken the pro­posed rail line to an ease­ment con­nect­ing sev­eral neigh­bour­hood prop­er­ties.

All you need is a fall­ing- out between two of the neigh­bours and the ease­ment quickly be­comes a weapon.

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