Albanese says Labor shouldn’t change regulations to stop Adani
Summary: Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese has hit out at suggestions from the Greens that governments should change environmental regulations to stop the Adani mine going ahead, saying the project will stand or fall on its own economic merits.....
Mr Albanese’s comments come after Labor leader Bill Shorten yesterday made a show of his support for the coal industry, announcing coal miner Russell Robertson as Labor’s candidate for the marginal Central Queensland seat of Capricornia and declaring that his party’s scepticism about the $16.5bn Adani mine does not equate to it being anti-coal.
The leading figure in Labor’s left faction spent yesterday campaigning in the Batman by-election where former ACTU president Ged Kearney is facing off against Greens candidate Alex Bhathal.
Asked what Labor meant by saying it would support the Adani mine “if it stacks up”, Mr Albanese said the mine had received state and federal environmental approvals, but may not be viable without the proposed taxpayer-funded rail line to Abbot Point.
“Now we ensured that that would not occur and indeed the Queensland Labor Government has also said that they won’t support that subsidy and hence we have a project that doesn’t have any finance, doesn’t have finance here in Australia, unable to raise funds in the US, unable to raise funds in China,” Mr Albanese told ABC radio last night.
“And therefore it is hard to see this project going ahead because of the economics of the project.”
Mr Albanese saying those urging Labor to “stop Adani” were suggesting the party should rewrite the environmental protection, biodiversity and conservation acts.
“Certainly there has been no suggestion from Labor that that is something that we should do,” he said.
“What we think is good policy happens when you establish good, proper settings, be it in terms of energy — the Renewable Energy Target, putting in place a policy framework which then drives a change across the economy.
“What you don’t do is single out particular projects and then retrospectively change existing laws which would have ramifications across the board.
“We haven’t said at any stage that we would do that. What we have said very clearly is because of what is happening in the global thermal coal market, which includes, by the way, India saying that they will not import coal after the next few years, is that there is not a market for this.
Mr Albanese said it wasn’t up to him to say the Adani project was “dead”.
“I am saying that very clearly the economics of the project haven’t stacked up, otherwise the financing would have occurred, otherwise any one of the many deadlines which have been established by the company where they have said we will start certain operations by particular dates, would have been met. The fact is they haven’t been met. The financing isn’t in place for the project.”
Mr Albanese said he “absolutely” agreed with Labor’s resources spokesman Jason Clare, who yesterday said Labor was not “in the business of ripping up contracts” when asked whether the party would oppose the mine.
“The Federal Labor Party is in the business of making sure that you have proper policy settings in place and that you can have a proper economic policy operating as well,” he said.
“I do find it somewhat extraordinary that the Greens Political Party, who voted against having a price in carbon in 2009, which would of course have had an impact, had the CPRS been in place on projects like this one because of the fugitive emissions that come from the mining sector, that they are belatedly, after the approvals have occurred, have been running a campaign a long way after the approvals had occurred both federal and state.”
Asked whether CFMEU national president Tony Maher was correct that if Labor opposed Adani and won Batman they would lose seats in central Queensland, Mr Albanese said Labor’s stance wasn’t “about the politics”.
“This is about getting the policy mechanisms right,” he said.
“What you can’t do is look at any one electorate and say this is why we are going to determine national policy on something like mining or energy or climate change action.
“What you have to do is to get the policy mechanisms right and that is what we have done.”