Matters of Public Importance - Mining Industry: Adani

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:11): For those who might be listening to this debate on the Adani mine, one can understand why the Greens political party is on the downwards slide. Unfortunately perhaps for democracy, nobody takes any notice of them anymore, and the previous speech exemplifies just why: it was full of inaccuracies and deliberate misstatements of the facts. For example—just to pick up a couple, and time does not allow me to show the lie of everything that was just said in that speech—the suggestion that the local Indigenous people have been bribed to support the mine is just not true. If Senator Waters had attended the hearing in Brisbane of the inquiry into the native title amendment, she would have heard from the local Indigenous people there that they had a number of meetings and that the local Indigenous people support this proposal. And she would have heard the same from Indigenous groups right around.

Senator Waters also said that the Commonwealth was going to be handing out free money to Adani to trash the reef. Well, there is no free money. In case Senator Waters is not aware—and I am sure she is, but that does not stop her deliberately misstating the facts—the North Australia Infrastructure Facility is a loan based facility. It is a loan from that particular organisation which has to be repaid by the recipient. And it is not the government, Senator Waters. NAIF is a completely independent group, a company set up under its own legislation. It makes the decisions. It is not subject to federal government direction or, in most cases, veto.

The Greens continue to misstate the facts. Any speech by the Greens now will always include—you can bet your bottom dollar, whatever they are talking about—that it is going to destroy the reef. Again I say that Australia emits less than 1.2 per cent of carbon emissions in the world. If it is carbon emissions that are causing climate change and if climate change is affecting the reef, then nothing we do in Australia is going to have any impact upon that, Senator Waters. And I keep challenging you and your colleagues to tell me how that is going to be the case, but never do you respond to that, because it is an argument that you cannot respond to. So I disregard entirely anything the Greens might say on these issues. I take no notice of them, and most Australians no longer take any notice of the Greens political party at all.

I am entering into this debate because I am fascinated, I am curious and I cannot wait to hear what Senator Chisholm is going to say on behalf of the federal Labor Party in relation to this MPI discussion. It is not often that I agree with state Labor. It is not often that I will praise the Labor Premier of Queensland. But on one point, I must say, the Queensland state Labor Party and the Queensland state Labor government have done the right thing on this particular issue. They are supporting Adani because they, like me, appreciate that this means 10,000 jobs for people in Central Queensland and North Queensland, where I live, work and see the despair of huge unemployment. This project, which is a first-class and state-of-the-art facility, will provide enormous numbers of jobs during construction—something like 8½ thousand. There will also be 3,900 permanent direct jobs in these coalmines.

It is not just Adani, of course. Once the common-user railway line is built it will be used by other mines in that area. So it is not going to one particular producer. It will be used by everyone. This provides real jobs. I know that Queensland state Labor are interested in this. But I would be fascinated to hear, Senator Chisholm, what you are going to tell us about the federal Labor position. It seems to vacillate every day. We still do not know what Mr Shorten and Mr Dreyfus are going to do about this native title amendment. The Queensland Labor government totally support the government's amendment to the native title legislation to deal with that unusual and unexpected court decision that changed the whole process. As part of it, it could have meant that all of the coalmines in the Galilee Basin, plus the existing mines at Weipa and the ongoing work of the aluminium industry in Gladstone, would have been shut down completely. But so far we have the Labor Party vacillating on whether they are for it or against it.

When my committee dealt with this, it appeared that the Labor Party were totally supportive. One of the Labor senators wanted to make some further inquiries, but we generally got the—

Senator Chisholm: Which one?

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It was Senator Dodson who was there. You were not, unfortunately. That was a pity, because it was very important for Queensland. Senator Dodson wanted to check something. Since then, Mr Shorten—or Mr Dreyfus, apparently; he seems to control Mr Shorten—seems to be putting different things in the way of that particular resolution of an issue which means real jobs for Queensland. I will be delighted and fascinated to hear what the Labor senator is going to say in relation to federal Labor's position.

We on this side believe in jobs. We understand the enormous importance of these projects to employment in my state of Queensland in particular. Senators will know that in Townsville at the present time there is 10.9 per cent unemployment. In Mackay, there is 6.8 per cent unemployment. In Rockhampton it is 7.2. Even the AWU—not a union that I have a great regard for usually—understands the importance of this and is supporting the Queensland Labor government in its bid to get these projects underway.

There have been over 300 very strict environmental conditions on this proposal. It is one that will be carefully monitored by both the Queensland and Commonwealth governments. Those conditions and the oversight of both governments will ensure that there is no damage to the local ecology or to the environment of that part of Queensland, or to the Great Barrier Reef or anywhere else. Those conditions are very strict, but Adani has accepted them.

This work will bring electricity and a slightly increased standard of living to millions of people in India that the Greens will always talk about at the appropriate time in this chamber—helping disadvantaged people in Third World countries. But when there is an opportunity to do something tangible to help those people, to give them the electricity that the Greens take for granted every day—they can go and flick a switch and enjoy the benefits of electricity—they do not seem to want that to happen to people living in India who do not have the benefit of those facilities.

I will listen intently to what the next speaker will say about federal Labor's position. I hope it will be a rousing endorsement of the Queensland Labor government's position on this, which of course reflects the position of the Liberal National Party of Queensland and the federal coalition in relation to this much-needed project that will help those poorer people in India and will provide real and permanent jobs in a part of Queensland that is currently suffering substantially from unemployment, caused principally by the mining turndown in other parts of North Queensland.

The matter of public importance that we are debating today refers to $1 billion. I am not quite sure where that is coming from or what is being wasted. As I say, any money that might come from the NAIF—and that is a matter for the NAIF board to determine, not the federal government—will be a loan that will have to be repaid at some time in the future. So the proposition put before us today that we are debating is completely nonsensical. It is put up by the Greens political party, who—I am pleased to say—most Australians now take no regard of.

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