By Jim Hayes
On Saturday, thousands took part in events around Australia, observing the national day of action to oppose the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
Rallies and other activities organised by the Stop Adani Alliance, were held in at 45 locations, including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Port Douglas in North Queensland.
The Stop Adani alliance is a coalition of 31 organisations.
Owner of the mine, Adani, has promised thousands of local jobs but opponents say the project will not deliver, be economically negative and fuel global warming and destroy the Great Barrier Reef and make a significant contribution to carbon emissions that are the primary cause of global warming.
Like the battle over coal seam gas extraction (CSG), the battle over Adani has shifted, from the fringes to the mainstream. Both has served as something of a Watershed that has decidedly shifted public opinion,away from increasing reliance on fossil fuels, to supporting cleaner alternatives.
Consequently, the chances for Carmichael mine to shift to its intended potential have become considerably less. It doesn’t mean that it is doomed yet. Adani is determined and has won the patronage of the political establishment. And it is this alliance that is causing a few other spinoffs.
According to a poll commissioned by the Alliance, over 70 percent of Australians do not want the intended hand over of $1 billion to help Adani build his rail from the mine to Abbot Point, on the coast. Opposition to the mine itself is at 55.4 percent. Public opinion was also found to cut across political persuasions.
The deal has brought into sharp relief a perception that government is far too ready to make taxpayer money easily available to big business. More people are starting to ask, why are they doing this?
As the Adani battle progressed, revelations have come out, showing that the Adani road is littered with personal gifts and junkets for politicians at the federal, state and local levels and others who may be able to help and sway opinion.
The longer this goes, the more news comes out regarding the corrupt modus operandi of the Adani empire in India, Singapore and other places.
The fallout of this is that Australians are now beginning to wonder just how far corruption goes in our own political institutions. In this way, the battle over Adani has linked up with concern over the activities of the banks and other corporations, and revelations involving the Australian Tax Office and Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
The charge of corruption is becoming commonplace. There is broad concern over the circumstances that allow corporations to carry out large scale money laundering and tax evasion. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that events around Adani have contributed to this rise in public awareness.
Rising opposition to Australia’s continuing reliance on the mining of fossil fuels, has been assisted by the CSG and Adani battles, which means that the coal and fossil fuel industries are walking on hot coal – pun intended. New projects now must contend with major opposition from the start. So much so, that we are starting to see the beginnings of a shift in the pattern of investment by major shareholders, pushing towards investment in new cleaner energy.
It would be foolish to suggest that these investors are leading the charge. But it remains that they are aware of the shift in public opinion and are making some adaptations to it. They must contend with the fact that the extraction of fossil fuels in not popular and this threatens the longer-term bottom line.
Adani has unwittingly brought attention to the plight of the Great Barrier reef, which is rapidly dying from human caused pollution. Coal laden ships taking off from Abbot Point, to go through reef waters and coal dust from the mine, pose an added hazard to the world’s most diverse and unique habitat and Australia’s number one tourist attraction.
Most people care about the reef and want more to be done to protect it.
The other legacy of this battle is that it has contributed to a new wave of activism, which is critical to the capacity to bring about meaningful change.