PM frustrated by Carmichael mine outcome
PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has warned if developments like Indian company Adani's $16 billion Queensland mega-mine are "endlessly frustrated, that's dangerous for us and tragic for the wider world".
Mr Abbott was speaking in the wake of the Federal Court's decision this week to set aside the Federal Government's approval for Adani's Carmichael mine and rail project.
The court decided Environment Minister Greg Hunt did not properly consider how the Galilee Basin mine would impact the yakka skink and ornamental snake.
"I'm frustrated with this outcome and I think increasingly people could become angry with this outcome because, while it's absolutely true that every project has got to adhere to the rules and while it's absolutely true that we want the highest environmental standards to apply to projects in Australia, and while it's absolutely true people have a right to go to court, this is a $21 billion investment," Mr Abbott said on Friday.
"If we get to the stage where the rules are such that projects like this can be endlessly frustrated, that's dangerous for us and tragic for the wider world, so we've got to get these projects right.
"But once they are fully complying with high environmental standards let them go ahead, for the workers of Australia and for the people of countries like India, who right at the moment have no electricity."
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused Mr Abbott of second-guessing judges, rather than working to change legislation.
"Mr Abbott seems to be creating a new test for environmental protection in this country - that near enough is good enough, well it's not," Mr Shorten said.
"Half this mess we're in with Adani is because the government rushed its approvals and then it's got tripped up in the court system."
Mr Abbott said the project would create 10,000 jobs in Queensland and nation-wide.
"Already the Adani group has invested about $3 billion in Australia in preparation for this further investment," he said.
"This coal will power up the lives of 100 million people in India, so this is a very important project not just for Australia, but for the wider world.
"Australian resources can give them electricity and the interesting thing about Australian resources is that invariably they are much better for the environment."
Mr Shorten said whether the project was approved depended on Adani's business case and the best scientific and environmental evidence.
Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said urgent and bipartisan action was needed to close off "the technical legal loophole".
"The anti-coal activists' victory because of the skink and the snake and a technical legal loophole has probably done the resources industry a huge favour," he said.
"This issue has rammed home to the man and woman in the street the real implications for the economy and jobs of the activists' wrecking tactics.
"The QRC welcomes the fact that the Prime Minister has called out these tactics and what is at stake."
Mr Roche said overseas money was funding local conservation groups and breathing life into "disrupt and delay" tactics in courts.
Greenpeace has accused the Prime Minister of turning his back on the Great Barrier Reef.
"It's also incredible that Environment Minister Greg Hunt is now talking about changing the law so he doesn't have to consider advice about vulnerable species when making decisions over mine approvals," Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief David Ritter said.
"When you lose a legal battle, you don't just change the laws to suit your case."
Australian Marine Conservation Society Great Barrier Reef campaigner Gemma Plesman said the group was deeply concerned that the Abbott government was putting the coal industry's interests before the Great Barrier Reef and the tourism industry that relied on it.
- APN NEWSDESK