Friday 22nd Jan, 2021

Hockey hints possible funding for Adani rail line

Joe Hockey - Public domain
Joe Hockey - Public domain

Australian treasurer Joe Hockey says he’s working with Queensland treasurer Curtis Pitt to convince Indian conglomerate Adani to build its 189km rail line and 60 million tonnes per annum coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, despite environmental opposition and a substantial downturn in the commodities sector.

Hockey told ABC 612 Brisbane host Steve Austin on Monday the mining production phase was important to the Australian economy, and the massive Adani project would be important to that.

“We are doing everything we can to help to get the Adani Carmichael mine open,” Hockey said. “In fact in the last week of parliament we were prosecuting the case that it is plainly ridiculous that environmental groups, in Mackay for example, funded by NSW environmental lawyers, is able to challenge a mine 600km away and hold up approvals.”

The regulatory process being undertaken by Adani to set up its mine was stalled earlier this month when environmental groups won a court case which set aside environmental approvals for the mine itself.

Aside from that opposition, Adani is also faced with a tough market for coal, which is being worsened by a number of big banks which have apparently lost confidence in the project.

But Hockey is confident the project should go ahead.

“I spoke to Curtis Pitt, the Queensland treasurer, about this on Friday [August 21]. We are working together to see what we can do to further encourage Adani to continue with the mining process,” the federal treasurer revealed.

“One of the things [Adani are] looking at is how we can ensure that the railway line remains financially viable. And I can’t give away too many details but we’re working away at that.”

Hockey’s boss, Tony Abbott, last week ignited tensions when he criticised the stalling of Adani’s project as an act of “sabotage”.

“We want the highest environmental standards to apply to new projects in Australia,” the PM said in Canberra, “but once those standards have been met, those projects must be allowed to proceed.”

The Mackay Conservation Group recently successfully challenged Adani’s project in Federal Court. Abbott plans to cancel legislation allowing that to happen again.