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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)

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Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia -- 68 per cent of its population -- while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users - which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users

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Australia recommends strengthening regulation of Facebook, Google. Pixabay

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Monday proposed measures to counter the dominant market positions of Google and Facebook and strengthen monitoring on their access to information, advertising and consumers personal data.

The regulatory body, which recommended 11 preliminary measures in the report, was directed to conduct a public inquiry into the impact of digital search engines, social media platforms and other digital content in 2017 by then treasurer and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Acting as an intermediary between consumers and news outlets, platforms are inherently influential in shaping consumers’ choices of digital journalism,” said the report cited by Efe news.

This influential position and filtration of news items could place the consumer in a so-called filter bubble, increasing the risk of consumers being exposed to unreliable news, according to the report.

“The algorithms operated by each of Google and Facebook, as well as other policies, determine which content is surfaced and displayed to consumers in news feed and search results,” it said.

“The ACCC considers that the strong market position of digital platforms like Google and Facebook justifies a greater level of regulatory oversight,” Chair Rod Sims said.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

The commission called for the creation of a regulatory authority with powers to monitor these digital platforms and recommended establishing an automatic mechanism to take down content that violates copyright.

The ACCC said consumers should be informed about the manner in which these platforms collect and use their data to create personalized advertising.

This would include a reform of privacy laws to require the user’s express consent to data collection and “enable consumers to require erasure of their personal information where they have withdrawn their consent”.

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ACCC said that it found that “competition may have been distorted in multiple sectors where consumer data is used”.

Facebook has 17 million monthly users in Australia — 68 per cent of its population — while Instagram, second most popular site in terms of users – which is owned by Facebook, has 11 million users.

In 2017, Google registered 90 per cent of search traffic originating from Australian desktops and 98 per cent from mobile phones. (IANS)