Adani could lose its ability to operate in Queensland if the company is convicted of providing false or misleading information to the State Government, with the company also facing possible third-party court action over evidence of potentially illegal work on its Carmichael mine site.
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.
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 or misleading information to the Environment Department.
“This is a very serious criminal offence that could result in imprisonment or massive fines. 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, at best misleading and at worst outright 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.
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.”
UPDATE: Adani's prosecution in Brisbane has been adjourned on 16 August 2019 until September 2019.
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.