George Brandis: ‘Jobs Of The Future’ Hinge On Coal, Adani

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Attorney-General George Brandis still believes that the controversial Adani coal mine is Central Queensland’s “best shot at economic prosperity in the future,” despite the company having failed to reach financial close after five years of trying.

Adani sought approval from the Federal Government in November 2010 for the Carmichael Coal Mine, which would be the largest in Australia’s history if it’s built. Now more than half a decade later, and with coal prices less than half of what they were, no shovels have hit the ground.

In fact, contractors have been laid off, and the project is effectively on go-slow. The company has been plagued by legal challenges – to Brandis’ chagrin – but with 13 banks publicly refusing to finance the project there is serious doubt it will ever get off the ground anyway.

It seems nobody told George Brandis. The Attorney-General was on radio this morning building up a government smear campaign which points to The Greening of Labor.

He told the ABC that the people of Central Queensland “know that if there were to be a Labor-Greens government, that would be the end of the Adani mine; that would be the end of coal mining in Central Queensland; and that would be the end of their best shot at economic prosperity in the future”.

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George Brandis at the CeBIT showfloor tour. (IMAGE: CeBIT).

Brandis also misquoted Federal Labor MP Terri Butler, suggesting she had told Q&A “that a Federal Labor government did not support the Adani mine”. What she actually said is that she personally doesn’t support it, which puts her at odds with her party on both the state and federal level.

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Federal Labor’s actual position is that the project must stand on its own two feet, and they’re agnostic about whether it proceeds, although Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler has pointed to the shaky economics of the project and said he thinks it’s unlikely to go ahead.

But why let facts get in the way of a good scare campaign?

Brandis even exhumed a long-discredited ‘jobs and growth’ figure, suggesting that “according to some estimates [the project]could generate up to 10.000 jobs”. It’s an assertion that an expert witness for Adani dismissed in a Queensland court last year, testifying instead that the project would only create 1,464 jobs, direct and indirect.

“What if you were a person in Rockhampton who was wondering where your next job was coming from, and you had the prospect of one of Australia’s largest ever coal projects with a very long lifespan being developed and reviving the regional economy,” Brandis mused this morning.

That person might also like to know that it’s not safe to bank on, and whether the Federal Government has a plan B for the marginal seat of Capricornia, which George Brandis was trying to woo with his shock and awe campaign.

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Thom Mitchell

Thom Mitchell is New Matilda's Environment Reporter.

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