Incredible frustration as once again the Queensland Government has adjourned the prosecution of Adani at the last minute.
UPDATE: Adani's prosecution in Brisbane has been adjourned again on 20 September 2019 until 18 October 2019.
The community expects Adani to be prosecuted diligently and promptly for supplying false and misleading documents.
Yet on the day of the School Strike 4 Climate, Adani will not face timely prosecution for breaking the law.
EDO Qld CEO and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg appeared outside Brisbane Magistrates Court and said:
"The supply of the document in question was in March 2018, it is now September 2019. It's unacceptable there are so many delays.
"It's urgent that this prosecution occur and proceed to a conclusion. It would be disastrous if Adani was able to commence digging with this prosecution languishing and not being vigorously pursued by the State Government.
"We've seen droughts, we've seen fires, we've seen what's happened to our Reef. We should not be approving any of these big coal and gas projects.
"But fundamentally, whether people agree with that or not - we all agree that big mining companies should all have to comply with the law.
"On a day like today, this shows the Government doesn't prioritise enforcing the law against big mining companies and their risky projects that can have huge and unexpected climate impacts."
UPDATE: Adani's prosecution in Brisbane has been adjourned on 16 August 2019 until September 2019.
Following an abrupt adjournment of the first mention in August, Adani will now appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow, 20 September 2019 at 9am to face first mention of the prosecution against it for supplying false or misleading documents.
EDO Qld’s Jo Bragg and Environmental Justice Australia’s Ariane Wilkinson are calling for law reform that would take into account Adani's international track record.
Overseas, entities in the Adani Group have a concerning history of failures to comply with environmental laws. The Adani Group's global legal compliance record demonstrates numerous serious breaches with adverse consequences for the environment and local people.
Under Queensland's current environmental laws, none of this record is taken into account when assessing Adani for 'suitable operator' status.
The Environmental Defenders Office Qld confirmed on 17 July 2019 its client Business Services of Coast and Country is considering independent legal action against Adani over evidence the company has undertaken potentially unlawful drilling of groundwater bores and site clearance at the mine site.
It comes after the State Government confirmed it is prosecuting Adani over providing false or misleading information – a criminal offence that carries a penalty of up to 2 years in prison or $567,675 in fines for individuals, or up to $2,838,375 for the company.
Business Services of Coast and Country spokesman Derec Davies said:
“It is unfortunate the Queensland Government has elected to not pursue Adani for this apparent breach of their Environmental Authority by apparently illegal land clearing and drilling into precious groundwater.
“We are now considering whether to take court action around compelling evidence of significant site clearance and sinking of dewatering bores at the Adani mine site. This may be the next step given the Department has declined to prosecute over those issues.”
Adani to appear in Court tomorrow and could lose its ability to operate in Queensland
Adani could lose its ability to operate in Queensland if the company is found guilty of providing false and misleading information to the State Government.
This criminal offence carries a penalty of up to $2,838,375 for the company.
If Adani is found guilty of these recent charges, the Environmental Defenders Office Qld alongside Environmental Justice Australia are calling for the Department of Environment and Science to launch an investigation into the company’s suitable operator status, and cancel or suspend Adani’s suitable operator registration.
Cancellation or suspension would be grounds to revoke Adani’s licence to dig the Carmichael coal mine.
EDO Qld CEO and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said:
“We congratulate the State Government for prosecuting Adani over the evidence supplied by our client that the company provided false and misleading information to the Environment Department.
“This is a very serious criminal offence that could result in fines of up to $2,838,375. Adani is misleading the public by suggesting it’s merely administrative.
“This wasn’t an admin error and it wasn’t self-reported. Our client caught Adani red-handed lying to the government.
“If convicted, this issue could potentially affect Adani’s ability to operate in Queensland, with the company’s suitable operator status likely to be called into question.
Environmental Justice Australia Senior Lawyer Ariane Wilkinson said:
“There’s a reason we have background checks in the law. It’s to manage risk and protect us all. Not taking into account a company’s environmental record in overseas jurisdictions, puts our air, water and wildlife at severe risk from companies like Adani with shocking environmental records overseas.”