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Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in the soup; Federal Court reconsiders proposal

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The approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland is facing problems and has been declared invalid by the Federal Court stating that the environment minister had not properly considered advice regarding two vulnerable species.

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Photo credit: Livemint
Photo credit: Livemint

The $16 billion coal mine and 189 km rail link, which was approved by the Federal Government in July 2014, is being reconsidered by the court after it came to light that Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly consulted with experts about the yakka skink and the ornamental snake, both the species close to extinction.

The court’s order was challenged by the Mackay Conservation Group, an environmental organisation in the Mackay region in Queensland, Australia, in January arguing that the impacts of the project on the climate and threatened species had not been properly addressed.

The court ruling has been consented to by Indian company Adani and the Federal Government.

The court statement says, “This is a technical, administrative matter and to remove this doubt, the department has advised that the decision should be reconsidered.”

“Without pre-empting a final decision about the project, the department expects that it will take six to eight weeks to prepare its advice and the supporting documentation, and for the Minister to reconsider his final decision.”

Environmental Defenders Office principal solicitor Sue Higginson, who represents the Mackay Conservation Group, said: “What can happen from here is the Minister can re-make his decision, and of course in remaking that decision he can approve the mine again following the proper legal procedures, or he can refuse the mine; that is the legal power open to the Minister.”

If approved, the proposed Carmichael mine would have been Australia’s largest coal mine exporting up to 60 million tonnes of coal from across the Great Barrier Reef Coast every year.

Adani said that the company will ensure that the mine, rail and port projects in Queensland will be developed keeping in mind the environmental conditions.

Adani said that the approval did include appropriate conditions to manage the species protection of the yakka skink and ornamental snake “but we have been advised that, because certain documents were not presented by the Department in finalising the approval, it created a technical legal vulnerability that is better to address now.”

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said that “legal loopholes” provided the necessary grounds for anti-coal activists to delay billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs.

State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said, “There’s been a judicial review and I believe it’s a technical error, but we’re asking the Federal Government, and the Federal Environment Minister to sort this out as quickly as possible.”

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29-Year-Old Indian origin Bus Driver Manmeet Alishera killed in Australia

Several passengers on board the bus at the time managed to escape via the rear doors

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Representational image. Flickr

Sydney, October 28, 2016: A 29-year-old bus driver of Indian origin was burnt to death on Friday while sitting behind the wheel in a shocking and senseless attack in Australia’s Queensland state.

A 48-year-old man at the scene was arrested after he allegedly climbed aboard the bus in Brisbane before “throwing some type of incendiary device at the driver”, Xinhua news agency quoted Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart as saying in Brisbane.

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“Sadly the driver, Manmeet Alishera, 29-year-old man, died as a result of his injuries,” Stewart said.

There is no evidence of any linkage to “terrorist type activities” or links to a racial motivation, Stewart said.

“While we don’t know the motivations at this stage, I want to reassure the community that we take these incidents very seriously,” Stewart said, adding counter-terror authorities were initially involved.

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Local media reported that Manmeet Alisher was a beloved Indian singer and prominent figure in Brisbane’s Punjabi community.

He was described as a soft spoken, courteous and genuine man.

Several passengers on board the bus at the time managed to escape via the rear doors “partly because of the heroic actions of a taxi driver who saw what was unfolding”, Stewart said.

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Six people were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation and minor injuries.

Queensland has been in mourning over the past week following the deaths of four people in Australia’s largest amusement park Dreamworld and the murder of a woman in Brisbane. (IANS)

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Australia’s PM criticized by environment groups for supporting Adani project

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Sydney: Even though the mining pundits are convinced that India’s Adani Group is all set to quit Australia because of continuous delays, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come out openly to support the proposed mega coal mine project owned by Gautam Adani-led Indian conglomerate.

Photo credit: abc.net.au
Photo credit: abc.net.au

Abbot has expressed “anger” and “frustration” over a Federal Court decision to set aside the environmental approval for Adani Group’s proposed mega coal mining project in central Queensland.

“While it’s absolutely true that we want the highest environmental standards to apply to projects in Australia, and while it’s absolutely true that people have a right to go to court, this is a $21 billion investment, it will create 10,000 jobs in Queensland and elsewhere in our country,” Abbott said while talking to media on Friday.

“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,” Australian PM said while implying that coal exported from the proposed mega mine would have fired multiple power plants in the South Asian country.

Tony Abbott is believed to be worried about the message the Federal Court decision could give to the potential foreign investors. The continuous opposition to Adanis and other foreign investors, in general, can send wrong signals to those who are looking for investments in various sectors, he said.

“Already the Adani group has invested about $3 billion in Australia in preparation for this further investment,” Tony Abbott said.

Whatever the motive, the Prime Minister has come under severe attack for defending Adani’s project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Various political, environment protection and legal commentators have lambasted Tony Abbott for his comments.

NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham is among those who expressed concern at Tony Abbott’s ‘anti-judiciary’ remarks.

“These comments demonstrate a lack of understanding of the independent role of the courts in our democracy,” she was quoted in an article.

“The courts exist to make decisions according to the law, not to further the interests of particular individuals or organisations, including government,” Needham said.

Although the Australian Opposition leader Bill Shorten did not say anything against Adani Group’s coal mine, he attacked the Liberal Government for the “haste” with which it approved the project.

“Half this mess we’re in with Adani is because the government rushed its approvals and then it got tripped up in the court system,” Bill Shorten said in a statement.

The environment protection groups have also joined the chorus of criticism.

“The legal system is in place to protect us and the world around us. Clearly the government thinks it is above the law,” Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Ellen Roberts said.

Adani too came under direct attack from others.

“It’s typical that Adani, who have ridden roughshod over India’s environment laws, consider Australia’s native animals mere technicalities.” Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts has been quoted in Australian media as saying. Her organisation had launched the legal challenge against Adani Group

“These laws protect not only yakka skinks and ornamental snakes, but all Australian plants and animals,” Ellen Roberts said. These two illusive native animals see to have jeopardized the Indian conglomerate’s investment of $3 billion.

Greenpeace International, which is embroiled in a bitter legal battle with the Indian Government, has also fired a salvo at someone defending the commercial interests of a person considered very close to Prime minister Narendra Modi.

“It deeply, deeply concerns me when a government that claims to be, not only a democracy, but claims to be a promoter of democracy, would bark at the judiciary when they exercise their role and their independence,” executive director of Greenpeace International Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.

(IANS)