Litigation against Adani results in better environmental outcomes for Australians, not delays to Adani’s controversial Carmichael project, say lawyers at Environmental Defenders Queensland in response to a leaked National Press Club address by Minister Matt Canavan today.
EDO Qld CEO and Solicitor Jo Bragg said: “The claim the legal process is causing delays has been proven false. Australia’s environmental laws are rightly being used by the community to scrutinise government decision making and hold industry to account.
“Judicial scrutiny is a central, democratic right. Without scrutiny by Australia’s court system the community would not be guarded against corruption, have confidence in our laws or see better environmental assessments and outcomes.
“Court cases brought forward by community groups scrutinising Adani’s mine have uncovered important failings in this project.”
Ms Bragg says there was many examples of this in relation to Adani’s project, with court hearings exposing:
- Exaggerated job creation estimates, with Adani’s expert witness economist Dr Jerome Fahrer admitting the mine would create only 1,464 jobs not 10,000 as claimed
- Overstated economic benefits to the Queensland and national economies
- Serious flaws in the assessment of impacts on endangered species, particularly the Black Throated Finch.
“The Queensland Productivity Commission and the Queensland Land Court confirmed court processes were not being used to delay Adani’s project but ensure Australia’s environmental laws are upheld. No case against Adani has been held to be frivolous or vexatious by the Courts,” Ms Bragg said.
“Minister Canavan has misplaced blame for delays on the court system, when the reality is the project has stalled because of a failure to find financial backers and a cooling coal market.
“Don’t forget it was community litigation in the Federal Court by the Mackay Conservation group that led to former Environment Minister Greg Hunt conceding he had made an error in the original approval by failing to consider impacts on endangered species.
“Government needs to stop bowing to industry pressure and instead ensure that the impacts on our precious and irreplaceable groundwater resources are thoroughly scrutinised.
“We need legislative reform to protect precious groundwater, prime agricultural land and our climate from the impacts of excessive mining. Not an inquiry aimed at demonising legitimate community legal scrutiny of risky major projects.”
In September 2016 EDO Qld released a carefully researched report that found Adani had not even applied for a key necessary groundwater licence. It showed this was a legitimate assessment processes for major projects and, combined with Adani’s own delays in making applications, were the main influences on the project’s timeframes.