Climate change cannot be a political football; we need a long-term strategy, not a handbrake

Standing up for the environment

Standing up for the environment

Did this really happen this week, did the Minister for the Environment actually sign off on the Adani coalmine groundwater plan? Paving the way to the next step of the project that would pump 7.7 billion tonnes of carbon pollution – around ten times Australia's current annual pollution – and suck out at least 270 billion litres of groundwater over its life, creating water shortages for farmers and communities in a state already suffering the impacts of severe drought.

Environment Minister Melissa Price allegedly approved the groundwater management plans once she received notification from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia they met “scientific requirements”. 

The groundwater license giving Adani unlimited access to groundwater runs until 2077, and this decision threatens millions of litres of precious groundwater says Oliver Yates, Independent Candidate for Kooyong who is running a strong anti Adani and climate change ticket.

“The mine, when the coal is burned, will threaten the Great Barrier Reef and cause runaway climate change.”

He said the Environment Minister's decision to rush through the final approvals for the Adani mine proves that the government has no integrity.

“Time and time again the government has lied, pushed the interests of its donors in the fossil fuel industry over the interests of the citizens, and this latest development takes the cake. We’ve seen an insurgent group of LNP members fight to give this mega mine even more special treatment.

“Over the past week, members of the hard right of the Liberal Party have been bullying the Environment Minister in the media to rush through the final approvals of the Adani mine.

“[The minster] has been forced to rush through the process of allowing this company carte blanche with our water. This stinks of bullying, intimidation and poor process.

“It’s the process that makes Australians disgusted. It’s just so obvious that this being jammed through right before an election is being called,” said Oliver Yates who earlier this week staged his campaign launch party at his home in front of a large supportive crowd.

“I have one message to the people of Kooyong. Josh Frydenberg has continually backed this mine. He stood in Parliament and waved around coal. And now he owns this decision and we will continue campaigning for political integrity and real action on climate change here in Kooyong, all the way up to the election.

“People I speak to in Kooyong are furious.”

Speaking at last week’s Smart Energy Show Oliver Yates said we face climate change [damage] of unmitigated proportions but that the upcoming federal election is a turning point and voters need to support candidates who stand by action on climate change.

“We don't need five years of policy paralysis.”

Independent candidate for Warringah Zali Steggall (pictured above) who is standing on a climate change platform told Smart Energy the matter of Adani is and will be a big issue for any future government and that she is  “very vocally” against it.
“There’s a reason the coal industry and minerals council donate to political parties - they are buying influences toward policy decisions that are made,” she said.

“The impact is local but profits go overseas – it does not make sense on any measure and raises the issue of the power of unions when it comes to employment,” she said, emphasising the fact environmental concerns are at the forefront of voters in her electorate. 

During the Smart Energy Show Zali Steggall commented that she finds it hard to overlook the nightly news reports on the climate emergency that confronts us daily.

“As a mother I care about the legacy of our generation … climate change cannot be a political football, we need a long-term strategy … the cost of inaction is being already being felt, she said.

“It’s time for Australia to be a leader in climate change with conviction, a plan and hard work. Independents are fighting for change and a progressive future, one that includes more renewable energy, not more coal mines and more pollution.

“I feel confident we have the knowledge, skills and talent – we just need sensible government policies … industry is raring to install solar and wind.”

One well-informed source said the Environment Minister’s approval of groundwater for Adani was simply “bonkers”.

The development would cause widespread damage and destruction for the sake of creating around 1000 jobs and royalties of $4.8 billion rather than the $22 billion initially suggested.

John Grimes of the Smart Energy Council says the Adani coal mine does not stack up environmentally or economically and that “under no condition should we be considering it. 

“The world faces a climate emergency. Yet here we have a government hell bent on not only increasing emissions in what should be a carbon constrained economy but also set to destroy water supplies and make life even tougher for farmers in the greater region of the Galilee basin.  

“The Barrier Reef ecosystem that is already struggling for survival will also take an even bigger hit, along with tourism and tens of thousands of jobs,” John Grimes said. 

“Giving a green light to the Adani coal mine is grossly irresponsible on all fronts and proves the Coalition is living in a world of reckless denial.”

ACF Stop Adani Campaigner Christian Slattery describes Adani as a “climate-wrecking water-guzzling mine”.

“The mining giant plans to drain 12.5 billion litres of precious river water every year, nearly as much as all local farmers combined. The mine threatens ancient springs – 160 wetlands that provide permanent water during drought. 

“It would also leave behind six unfilled coal pits that would drain millions of litres of groundwater forever.”

Christian Slattery says with over half of Queensland suffering through severe drought, it’s downright immoral.

The Environment Minister claims the CSIRO is fine with Adani’s groundwater plans, but this looks really fishy – in a report, the CSIRO raised significant concerns about the limitations of Adani’s plans, he said.

“The Liberal-National Coalition has proven they will do anything for coal-burning companies and the billionaires who profit from them. They’ll even detonate the climate bomb that is Adani’s mine.”

What next? The project requires Queensland government approvals for nine environmental plans and has to meet a series of additional stringent conditions of approval from the Commonwealth before it can begin producing coal.

The federal Labor party has also stepped in to question the approval processes involved, and listed what the government needs to release in relation to Adani:

  • The final Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan (GDEMP);
  • The Department’s assessment of how the final GDEMP met the requirements of the approval and of the analysis/recommendations by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia;
  • CSIRO documents on the level of risk / confidence that the GDEMP can be revised to meet their requirements;
  • The previous version of the GDEMP that was assessed by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia;
  • CSIRO notes on the different versions of the GDEMP;
  • CSIRO notes from meetings on the GDEMP;
  • Geoscience Australia’s notes on the different versions of the GDEMP;
  • Geoscience Australia’s notes from meetings on the GDEMP;
  • All notes related to CSIRO and/or Geoscience Australia changing their position on the notes from meetings on the GDEMP;
  • Any notes from the verbal briefing provided by the Department to CSIRO and Geoscience Australia including the ‘Summary of CSIRO and Geoscience Australia Advice on Groundwater Management Plans and Response”; and
  • The “actions agreed to by Adani” referenced in the CSIRO letter to the Department dated 5 April 2019.