A few people have asked where I stand on the Adani mine.
First, the project needs to stack up economically and environmentally; if it doesn’t it shouldn’t go ahead; so far it hasn’t. There are a number of approvals and conditions still required for this project. We’ve been clear and consistent. If there are decisions to be made, we’ll make them on the best available information and in accordance with the law. We won’t rip up contracts or create any kind of sovereign risk.
Now, the inconvenient truth: No Green, no independent, no Labor, no Liberal, no National can simply “Stop Adani”. The majority of approvals were given by the Queensland state government – when it was a Liberal National Party State Government under Campbell Newman. We will apply the relevant federal laws that exist. As stated, we don’t believe the mine stacks up environmentally and economically. But we have to follow the laws as they exist. So does everyone else. Anyone who says otherwise is misleading you.
Again, I share the views of Labor’s leaders that the mine doesn’t stack up environmentally and economically. I have voiced my concern numerous times since 2015 and been consistent.
Tony Burke’s response to GetUp!
Here are several transcripts from Labor’s decision makers, Mark Butler and Tony Burke indicating that Labor will deal with the problems associated with the project when it gets into government.
Mark Butler, 25 February 2019, with Fran Kelly on RN Breakfast
KELLY: The Adani coal-mine has become a proxy for the climate change debate. Do you still believe the development of this mine and the Galilee Basin is not in the national interest?
BUTLER: Yes I do, I’ve had that belief for a long time. I’ve personally said that I think that opening up a new coal basin in the Galilee Basin in Queensland is not in the national interest, because I think the business case that was presented for opening up this basin ten years ago was dissolved, it has disappeared.
KELLY: Well your leader and your Environment Minister, Tony Burke, don’t have the same view, they say that this mine has to stack up environmentally and commercially and if it does then Labor will support it.
BUTLER: Well that’s right, and obviously Tony Burke has got to, in the event that he becomes the Environment Minister, which obviously I hope he does after May, apply the environment laws properly as an Environment Minister and I think he outlined that very clearly yesterday. I don’t think there’s anyone in the parliament who knows more about our national environmental protection laws than Tony Burke does.
Tony Burke, 24 February 2019, with Barrie Cassidy on ABC TV Insiders
CASSIDY: On the Adani mine which got a bit of attention this week as well, Bill Shorten said that, and he said it often, for that mine to go ahead, we would need to environmental and economic standards. You are well placed to make judgements around that as Shadow Environment Minister, do you think it stacks up environmentally?
BURKE: On this, can I first of all say from environmental, from the environmental end, I have always been a bit sceptical of the project. I’m concerned about from what’s been reported the Government doesn’t appear to have followed the law with respect to the use of the water trigger. Some of what they have dealt with with threatened species and their lack of action when coal-laden water has been dumped into the Caley Valley wetlands. But there’s a reason why and the Green Party knows this, every time they say Labor must tell us what they would do with environmental approvals on Adani. If I were to do that, any subsequent decision would be unlawful and that’s been the case under the EPBC act and been clear since 2004 when the Howard Government, to stop a renewable energy project of all things, made an election commitment about the orange-bellied parrot. If you pre-judge the decision, the decision is unlawful. What I will say is when asking whether it stacks up environmentally, I have always been sceptical about it. I don’t believe the Government has appropriately followed the law from the reports that I have seen. I will apply the law. If I were to say what the Greens keep begging me to say, they know, and they don’t have to provide an Environment Minister so they can get away with this wedge, they know that if I were to say that, if I were to, Adani would definitely win. And my obligation here is to make sure that we apply environmental law.
CASSIDY: Alright. You are a sceptic. If the CFMEU are asking Labor candidates in Queensland to support the mine, and if they don’t, they are threatening to campaign against them, being sceptical wouldn’t satisfy them, they want outright opposition. What do you say to the Labor candidate in Queensland and what will they say?
BURKE: Everybody is in a position where in terms of the environmental approval it can’t be pre-judged. It absolutely can’t be. It is unlawful for it to be pre-judged. There are some deep problems with the way the Liberal Government has handled the environmental approvals here. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s someone saying you’ve got to approve the mine or whether it is someone saying you have to stop it. If you make an election commitment, saying this is exactly what we will do with environmental approvals, then under Australian law, under the EPBC act, that ultimate decision will be unlawful. And politically people might say it is easier to give a clear answer one way or the other about what you will do, but that will come to haunt you when a decision gets overturned in court.
Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Climate Change; Shadow Minister for Energy
“I do not support opening new mines in the Galilee Basin” (Click to watch)