Landry could have convinced us that her passion for India’s poor was believable by simply speaking about it in Parliament. In her two terms, she has mentioned India approximately seven times. Between 2015 and now, she’s devoted five full speeches to talking about the jobs and economic benefits that the Adani mine will bring to her electorate. But the closest she comes to mentioning poverty in India is nine, vague and lonely words in August 2015 about how Adani will improve Indian living standards. What about the issue of women and their respiratory health, so close to her heart, you ask? Not ventilated at all. Not even a little.
Unfortunately, Landry’s empty invocation of poverty to score political points isn’t the most problematic issue with her comments. Her claim that Australia’s decision to approve the Adani mine is important to building a better future for hundreds of millions of vulnerable Indians epitomises the self-serving and offensive western imperialist logic that impoverished India in the first place.
The industrial revolution in Britain was made possible by Britain’s de-industrialisation of India. At the beginning of the 18th century prior to British occupation, India was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It accounted for 23 per cent of global GDP. When the British left, it accounted for barely 3 per cent. So when Landry argues that Australia’s decision to approve the Adani mine is the key to liberating hundreds of millions of Indians by giving them access to electricity, she’s making an argument that offensively erases the fact that Britain created India’s energy poverty in the first place. As Australia is part of the British Commonwealth, we can’t just turn a blind eye to the facts, and try play the saviour.
But even if Landry got Australia to adopt a white saviour complex, it would then have to be true Adani was saving the poor. It isn’t. It’s just hurting them. Mumbai – the only place Adani is an electricity provider in India – experienced a 50 per cent increase in its electricity bills after Adani took over.