Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull who is backing Adani Group’s Carmichael coal mine project, which is expected to begin operations this year, has been at the receiving end of barbs back home where the media, and environmentalists continue to protest against the project vociferously.
His meeting with Gautam Adani in India raised the hackles of his critics in Australia where he has been accused of ‘kissing the boots’ of the businessman.
“While Australia is reeling, our prime minister is ... in India kissing the boots of Adani, a coal baron billionaire who wants to build the world’s biggest new coal mine,” an environmental justice campaigner at GetUp, Sam Regester, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
The Adani Group is involved in a $21-billion project to build a coal mine near the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage site whose ecology is being threatened by global warming. According to reports, they have pumped in around $3.3 billion into the project.
Leading daily The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday that continued coral bleaching of The Great Barrier Reef due to burning of coal, oil and gas could cost the local economy $1 billion and 10,000 jobs as tourists would stop visiting the natural wonder, while quoting a report by advocacy group Climate Council.
Environmental groups in Australia have been opposing Adani’s coal mine project since it was first announced in 2010. '
In his meeting with Adani on Monday, Turnbull assured the businessman that Canberra would pass a legislation to overturn a recent court ruling that made it harder to acquire land for projects.
In its weekly editorial comic strip First Dog on the Moon, The Guardian took potshots at Australian politicians for ignoring the interests of the Aboriginal community by supporting changes to the ‘Native Title Act’.
“The Adani coal mine perfectly represents the complete failure of our political system… Do something,” a comic character is seen telling another in The Guardian cartoon.
A ruling by an Australian court in February this year made it essential for all landowners, dead or alive, to sign on agreements that would allow their land to be used by others. The court decision overturned a 2010 court directive which allowed for land-use agreements to happen if majority of claimants were satisfied. The February court ruling reportedly directly challenges the Adani Group’s use of the land on which the coal mine is coming up.
According to an ABC report last week, Adani claims that the Carmicheal coal mine would create 10,000 jobs across the country, many of them in employment-starved north-west Australia. Many, however, claim that the figure is exaggerated and that the project wouldn’t create more than 1,500 jobs.
Despite bipartisan political support for the project, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the opposition Labour Party has rejected the idea of Adani being granted a $900-million loan for the project.
“The project should stand on its own two feet,” the opposition Labour party MP, Jason Clare, was quoted as saying in the SMH on Wednesday.
Turnbull, on the other hand, has reportedly said that the $900-million loan sought by Adani would be cleared on “merit” by an independent board.