Just days after Queensland Liberal National Party Senator James McGrath reportedly threatened to call for the sacking of federal environment minister Melissa Price if she did not grant approval for Adani’s proposed coalmine, the Indian mining giant’s groundwater management plan was approved on April 9.
It is no secret that Adani has been pressing the Coalition government to make a decision ahead of the federal election. The Coalition’s capitulation to Adani and the pro-coal lobby — just days out from the calling of an election — reeks of political interference.
The Lock the Gate Alliance (LTG) said that by granting approval for Adani’s groundwater management plan, the government has “thrown central Queenslanders under a bus, and put scarce water resources at risk”.
LTG spokesperson Carmel Flint said: “This rushed decision just prior to the election is one of the most compromised environmental approvals this country has ever seen.
“The Prime Minister and the environment minister have caved in to pressure from Adani and their political backers in the Liberal National Party, and sold Queenslanders down the river.
“There has been blatant political interference in relation to this issue over the last week, with LNP threats against the environment minister and hurried meetings between the Adani CEO with the Prime Minister.
“We need a national corruption body and an urgent investigation into how this deeply flawed approval was granted.
“The Adani mine puts at risk 187 unique Great Artesian Basin spring wetlands which are vital to graziers and wildlife in Central Queensland.
“Independent water experts have identified glaring failures with the water plan and Adani have still not done the research recommended by Great Artesian Basin spring experts in 2016.
“Minister Price’s own department also released new research late last year which showed that there was likely to be much greater losses of groundwater due to mining in the Galilee Basin than predicted by Adani.”
However, while federal approval of the groundwater management plan has been seen by many as Adani’s final hurdle, even Price acknowledged that Adani still needs to "meet further stringent conditions of approval from the Commonwealth before it can begin producing coal.”
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesperson Christian Slattery said it was “wrong to think Adani now has the green light to start digging up coal in the Galilee Basin".
Slattery said that, aside from outstanding state approvals, Adani is still awaiting federal approval for an aboveground water scheme.
Moreover, rather than dampening down the proposed Adani mine as an election issue, the decision has had the opposite effect. The Stop Adani movement is stepping up its campaign with actions outside local MPs’ offices. In particular, it is calling on Labor to come out against the mine.
As part of the campaign, the Bob Brown Foundation is organising a Stop Adani convoy from Tasmania to Central Queensland and back to Canberra.
There is also a week of direct actions planned in Central Queensland and School Strike 4 Climate has announced that its next National Day of Action will be on May 3.