Greens senator Larissa Waters will ask the government in Senate Question Time today about reports that the budget’s $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility could be used to finance the Galilee Basin coal projects.
Treasurer Joe Hockey had said in his budget night speech the scheme would “provide large concessional loans for the construction of ports, pipelines, electricity and water infrastructure that will open our Northern frontier for business”.
The Australian newspaper, however, reported this morning that the Galilee basin coal projects could also qualify for NAIF funding.
There are nine applications in the approvals pipeline for coal mines in the basin, around 300 kilometres inland of Queensland’s coast, which would create more carbon emissions than entire nations like the UK, Italy and South Africa.
“Why should mining magnates like Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer get taxpayer-funded handouts to suck up Queensland’s water for their climate-destroying mines?” Waters said.
The news comes at a time when, with four new regions added yesterday, 80 per cent of Queensland is drought declared. It’s the most widespread drought in the state’s history, and likely to worsen as an El Nino weather system, declared by the Bureau of Meteorology on Monday, reduces rain and increased temperatures.
“Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the big mining companies to use up Queensland’s water supplies, damage the Great Barrier Reef and cook the planet,” Waters said.
The previous Campbell Newman LNP government had offered to subsidise a key rail project needed to get coal from the mines to market, but the subsidy was scrapped by the incoming Palaszczuk government.
Waters said it is “just insane” to use taxpayers’ dollars to support the Galilee mines, “especially when 11 international banks have ruled out financing Galilee Basin Coal projects”.
“The Galilee Basin mega-mines are environmentally and economically unviable,” she said.
“The coal price has tanked because the rest of the world is turning to renewables, while our backward government attacks Australia’s renewable energy industry.”
As New Matilda has previously reported, the economic claims made to support the largest mine proposed for the Galilee have been called into question in a recent court case.
Economic experts engaged by the company, Adani, testified that the project will deliver fewer jobs, less tax, and would contribute to the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef through exacerbating climate change.
“The Abbott Government needs to stop putting its big mining donors ahead of farmers, the climate, and the Great Barrier Reef,” Waters said.
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