Australia and India are being drawn closer together by a mutual interest in coal and a shock election result which has all but cleared the way for the development of a $2 billion Indian-owned coal-mine in Australia.
Until last weekend, when Australia re-elected a conservative government, India’s Adani Group had effectively been held hostage by anti-coal activists and civil servants working for the State Government in Queensland.
But within hours of the return of a national government led by Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, the Queensland Government caved in, leading to a series of meetings this week which could see work start on the 16 million ton-a-year Carmichael mine within three weeks.
Fear of a political backlash at the next State election is the factor which forced a dramatic change at the highest levels of the Queensland Government.
Rather than persist with a process designed to wear down Adani, and its billionaire founder Gautam Adani, through a series of never-ending and largely artificial obstacles to approving the Carmichael development the way has suddenly been cleared.
Australian Voters Back Adani
Voters in Queensland, particularly those in remote regions of the State delivered a stunning rebuff to the delaying tactics, with the socialist-leaning Australian Labor Party receiving just 27.1% of the vote to claim only six out of 30 seats in the national Parliament.
If that voting trend continued into next year’s State election the Labor Government led by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would be dumped out of office, and she knew it.
What followed this week has stunned political observers and delighted Adani in Australia, particularly its local chief executive, Lucas Dow.
Without acknowledging her position as the leader of the Labor Party in Queensland Palaszczuk said she’d had “a gutful” of delays by her own government’s approvals process.
Only a politician sniffing the wind of change could have turned so quickly from being the person in charge of a perpetual approvals process to the person wanting it accelerated.
The next few weeks will determine whether the Carmichael mine is still at the center of a bizarre form of political theater or a genuine change has occurred and the mine will be cleared for development.
Being swept aside by the shock re-election of the Morrison government is a water management plan that has been locked in a State approvals process despite being approved at a national level, and a management plan for a rare bird, the black-throated finch, which had suffered similar State delays despite winning national approval.
Morrison, in blunt advice to the Queensland Premier, said she should just “get on with the approvals process” because of its importance to Australia’s future relationship with India.
The Prime Minister also strongly rejected attempts by anti-coal activists to criticize the Carmichael project because it is Indian owned.
“India will be an enormously big trading partner for Australia in the future,” Morrison said.
Adani Is Creating Jobs
“And what does concern me has been commentary, particularly from the Labor Party on this, about the concern that it was an Indian company.
“I mean, what on earth has that got to do with it.”
Morrison said that regardless of who’s proposing a mine, or what that mine is, it should just comply with the relevant regulation and legislation, like any other project, and people should have the certainty about those processes being followed, and them not being delayed.
“Adani is a company that’s investing and creating jobs, and they should be subject to the same rules as everybody else and treated with the same respect as everybody else,” he said.