Adani: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s extraordinary U-turn

Annastacia Palaszczuk visited a coal terminal near Mackay yesterday following Labor’s shock loss in the federal election over the weekend. While at the facility, she said she was “disappointed” the Adani project had not yet been approved.

The swing against the federal Labor Party in key electorates in Queensland has been attributed to Labor’s unclear policy position on the controversial mining project. The Adani Carmichael mining project, planned for the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, became a major talking point towards the tail end of the election.

Yesterday Ms Palaszczuk called for an end to the “frustration” by the end of this week.

“I am expecting a definite time frame (for approval) by Friday,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“I’m asking for the two parties, Adani and the independent regulator (the Environment Department), to sit down with the state’s Co-ordinator-General.”

“I sense the frustration of the community. I am frustrated. I think everyone has had a gutful, quite frankly,” the Premier added.

“I think that everyone was hoping that it would have happened, and frankly, it hasn’t. And I’m as disappointed as everyone else.”

The Queensland Labor leader had previously vetoed government loans for the mine and sat on environmental assessments of the site after the federal Coalition attempted to push them through.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the Hay Point Coal Terminal on Wednesday. Picture: Caitlin CharlesSource:News Corp Australia

Ms Palaszczuk toured the coal terminal and announced she was ‘disappointed’ with how long the approval process had taken. Picture: Caitlin Charles

Ms Palaszczuk toured the coal terminal and announced she was ‘disappointed’ with how long the approval process had taken. Picture: Caitlin CharlesSource:News Corp Australia

Ms Palaszczuk’s about-face was slammed by federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan. He described the turn of events as something out of a Monty Python film.

“If the Premier says today she’s fed up with the lack of progress on Adani, the Premier needs to answer how long has she been fed up with her own government and why hasn’t she done something about it before today,” Mr Canavan said.

“The Premier has announced today that the solution to jobs in north and central Queensland is to have a meeting.

“This is something that is out of the Life of Brian, this is something that is Pythonesque. It’s beyond a farce now.”

Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington added to the criticism, accusing the Government of being “anti-jobs”.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to stop shifting the goalposts and give some job security to the people of Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said.

“This is a government that is anti-jobs, she is anti-the regions and she has a high-taxing agenda.

“If people said anything on the weekend they said they were against a high-taxing government and a government that has stopped listening to the people of Queensland.”

The Department of State Development, Manufacuring, Infrastructure and Planning's projects map, with Adani's location circled.

The Department of State Development, Manufacuring, Infrastructure and Planning’s projects map, with Adani’s location circled.Source:Supplied

Adani Australia’s CEO Lucas Dow added to the criticism of Labor, saying after two years of reviews, continued delays were “tactics”.

“Any time frame for a decision on these outstanding management plans longer than the next two weeks is nothing more than another delaying tactic by the Queensland Labor government designed to delay thousands of jobs for regional Queenslanders,” Mr Dow told The Sydney Morning Herald in a statement.

“The Queensland Labor government has been reviewing these management plans for over two years now.”

During her 2017 state election campaign, Ms Palaszczuk used her power to veto a federal government loan allocated to the mine. At the time, Ms Palaszczuk said it was because her partner at the time, Shaun Drabsch, was involved in the loan process in his role at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

She later said she blocked the loan because she wanted to keep a promise not to spend taxpayer dollars on the mine and ensure the Adani project could “stack up financially”.

The Adani project has more recently been delayed by environmental approvals, waved through at the federal level but blocked by Ms Palaszczuk’s government at the state level.

The first of these was a groundwater management plan, which the CSIRO was pushed to approve in a single afternoon by the Federal Government, according to the ABC. The second was a habitat management plan for the black-throated finch, which has one of its only remaining habitats on the Adani Carmichael mine site.


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