Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has spectacularly backflipped on her government’s forced delays of approvals to controversial Adani coal mine, in the wake of federal Labor’s wipe-out in the state at the weekend election.
After internal pressure from her own party to act on Adani after federal Labor’s primary vote crashed at the weekend, Ms Palaszczuk raced to the mining city of Mackay today and ordered her own Environment Department to meet with Adani and the state’s Coordinator-General and sort out a timeline for the approvals.
Until now, Ms Palaszczuk has refused to intervene in her government’s moves to delay the project by up to five years.
“I think that the community is fed up with the processes, I know I’m fed up with the processes, I know my local members are fed up with the processes,” Ms Palaszczuk said in Mackay today.
“We need some certainty and we need some time frames. Enough is enough.”
For weeks, Ms Palaszczuk and her Deputy Premier have been refusing to answer Adani’s written requests to meet over state government forced delays on the proposed Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland. In the past six months, extraordinary reviews of Adani’s management plans — following state and federal environmental approvals — have threatened to blow out the start of construction of the mine by five years.
But today the Premier — wearing a hard hat at the Hay Point port — insisted she was personally “fed up” and frustrated with her own government’s processes on Adani.
She said the time frames for the mining project’s approvals would be sorted out and released publicly on Friday. However, she would not commit to when or if the mine would be approved.
The Queensland government’s 11th-hour delays on approvals for the mining project were blamed for federal Labor’s crushing result at the weekend’s federal poll in Queensland.
For days, Labor regional MPs, backbenchers, and party stalwarts have called for Ms Palaszczuk to swiftly act to approve Adani, or face electoral oblivion at the state election, due next year.
“The federal election was definitely a wakeup call to everyone,” Ms Palaszczuk said in Mackay.
“I hear that message. I’ve been in tougher battles than this.”
Adani has on multiple occasions sought clarification from the Department of Environment and Science about the timing of its approvals process but received no response.
The company also wrote to Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Trad, requesting a meeting to discuss timelines, but the requests were denied.
Earlier this month, an Adani spokesman said: “On numerous occasions we have requested meetings with the premier and deputy Premier.
“To date all requests have been declined.
“We have repeatedly met with officials from the Department of Environment and Science, with no additional details provided on what is required to finalise these plans.”
Adani puts heat on Queensland Labor MPs
Adani has written to all Queensland state Labor MPs, asking them to openly state whether they support the proposed Carmichael coal mine.
It comes as Ms Palaszczuk and her deputy Jackie Trad face mounting pressure from Labor members and its own MPs over the government’s ongoing delays in approving critical management plans for the central Queensland mine.
Federal Labor suffered a crash in its primary vote and now doesn’t hold a seat north of Brisbane, prompting warnings from Labor MPs and party stalwarts that the premier needed to heed the message sent by regional voters.
Adani was a major vote-winner for the Liberal National Party, which increased its vote in mining electorates in regional Queensland, turning once-marginal seats into Coalition strongholds.
In a press release this morning, Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow said the company had written to all state Labor MPs to request an “urgent meeting” to understand their stance on the Carmichael Project.
“Queenslanders have made it clear that they want and support coal mining and projects like ours. We have had overwhelming support from Queenslanders wanting the Carmichael Project to proceed and to proceed immediately,” Mr Dow said.
“We have given the state members all the facts, demonstrating we are ready to begin, provided the outstanding management plans are finalised by the Queensland Labor government once and for all.”
Ms Palaszczuk flew to Mackay this morning for a “major announcement” where she discussed a new timeline for the approval process for the mine Carmichael mine.
Mr Dow said any statement of support would be a “hollow promise”.
“The only way for the Queensland Labor government to demonstrate their support of the coal mining industry and our project is to announce the finalisation and approval of the two outstanding management plans,” Mr Dow said.
“Anything less, even if they approve just one of the plans, is yet another political stunt that fails to back coal mining and our project.
“It’s time for the Queensland Labor government to stop shifting the goalposts and let us get on with delivering these jobs for regional Queenslanders.”
Originally published via The Australian.