Thank God for Adani, Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer. In their hands are some of the largest coal re­serves on the planet. If Palaszczuk doesn’t like it, she can lump it

The Courier-Mail - - OPINION -

SOONER or later An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk is go­ing to have to ex­plain to Queens­lan­ders ex­actly where she stands on Adani’s Carmichael coal mine – and the oth­ers that will fol­low it.

Adani will be ex­port­ing qual­ity ther­mal coal from the Galilee Basin, west of Mackay, within two years.

The Premier’s re­fusal to pub­licly con­grat­u­late Adani speaks vol­umes. Her lines were glib and seemed to me to be de­lib­er­ately vague.

It is as though she was mim­ick­ing set words sanc­tioned by the oily Bill Shorten.

One minute Palaszczuk and Shorten seem to be in favour of min­ing; the next they ex­press grave reser­va­tions, as if they are will­ing the project to fail.

We have some of the largest un­tapped coal re­serves on the planet. If Palaszczuk doesn’t like it, she will just have to lump it.

The Premier has one leg each side of a barbed wire fence. She is wedged be­tween the green left and her own party’s “pro­gres­sives” on one side, and the need for jobs and roy­al­ties rev­enues on the other.

In 2016 she gushed over Gau­tam Adani in Townsville and jumped at the chance to pump his hand in a photo op.

Palaszczuk now seems to have re­pu­di­ated state­ments she made only last year when she backed the project.

Last March she is­sued a press re­lease headed: “In­dia rise spurs Queens­land ex­port growth.”

It read: “The Carmichael Coal project prom­ises to pro­vide thou­sands of di­rect and in­di­rect jobs in re­gional Queens­land.

“As Premier, I am de­ter­mined to en­sure we max­imise the ben­e­fit of this project for our com­mu­ni­ties and our state econ­omy.”

Palaszczuk’s sup­port for Adani fol­lowed Anna Bligh’s lead.

In 2010 premier Bligh si­dled up to Adani for a photo when he vis­ited Bris­bane to open its Queens­land of­fice. Palaszczuk was a mem­ber of the Bligh cab­i­net that de­clared Carmichael a “sig­nif­i­cant project”.

To­day Palaszczuk and Shorten are ter­ri­fied that La­bor votes are leak­ing to the Greens, and they have stepped up the anti-coal rhetoric ac­cord­ingly.

Queens­land Re­sources Coun­cil chief Ian Macfar­lane says the Carmichael mine, al­beit in a scaled-down ver­sion, will be the cat­a­lyst for up to five other coal mines.

Will Palaszczuk also run cold on the pro­posed $6.7 bil­lion Chi­nese-backed MacMines coal mine in the Galilee Basin that was ap­proved by her Gov­ern­ment last week?

Will she pay due re­spect to Gina Rinehart for risk­ing $6 bil­lion on mines at the Kevin’s Cor­ner and Al­pha projects in the Galilee, both run by In­dia’s GVK. They, too, have re­ceived en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­provals.

Clive Palmer, of­ten de­monised in the me­dia, should like­wise be con­grat­u­lated for kick­start­ing his Al­pha North mine in the Galilee.

Macfar­lane says ther­mal coal is now pay­ing around $11 in roy­alty taxes for every tonne ex­ported.

“So at cur­rent rates, for every 10 mil­lion tonnes of coal ex­ported, Queens­lan­ders re­ceive about $110 mil­lion in roy­alty taxes,” he says.

“Over the life of mines, this adds up to bil­lions of dol­lars, even ac­count­ing for price fluc­tu­a­tions.”

In­dia, es­pe­cially, needs our coal. It plans to build 50 gi­gawatts of modern High Ef­fi­ciency, Low Emis­sion (HELE) coal-fired power sta­tions in the next five years.

Fos­sil fu­els are ex­pected to earn Aus­tralia $100 bil­lion this year.

The In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency has just tal­lied last year’s global coal con­sump­tion and noted that de­mand had risen by 250 mil­lion tonnes, more than 3 per cent.

The ar­gu­ment from the Greens that the coal in­dus­try should be shut down by 2030 makes no sense. The in­va­sion of anti-Adani pro­test­ers in State Par­lia­ment this week was a dis­grace. They should have been ar­rested and charged.

Mean­while, claims by an­ticoal zealots about the po­ten­tial dam­age to the Great Bar­rier Reef and the cli­mate change im­pacts of the Adani mine must be con­sid­ered in a global con­text.

The Supreme Court in Queens­land has con­sid­ered both is­sues and ruled in favour of the com­pany. That said, our reg­u­la­tors must be pre­pared to en­force the strict en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions placed on coal projects.

I liked what the Con­ser­va­tive Party Se­nate can­di­date for Queens­land, Lyle Shel­ton, had to say: “Hun­dreds of High En­ergy, Low Emis­sion power plants are be­ing built through­out the world and the de­mand for Queens­land coal is only go­ing to in­crease.

“The sad irony is that as Aus­tralia’s fail­ing elec­tric­ity grid be­comes more un­re­li­able, Asia is burn­ing our coal in modern power plants, yet we have no plans to re­place lost base-load elec­tric­ity here.

“If we can burn it there, why can’t we burn it here?” It’s a fair ques­tion. How will Palaszczuk and Shorten an­swer it?

OP­POR­TU­NITY KNOCKS: Two years ago Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk (pic­tured with Gau­tam Adani) was a sup­porter of Galilee Basin coal projects.

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