By Rekha Bhattacharjee
Sydney:(IANS) Even though the mining pundits are convinced that India’s Adani Group is all set to quit Australia because of a chain of delays, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come out openly to support the proposed mega coal mine project owned by Gautam Adani-led Indian conglomerate.
Abbot has expressed “anger” and “frustration” over a Federal Court decision to set aside the environmental approval for Adani Group’s proposed mega coal mining project in central Queensland.
“While it’s absolutely true that we want the highest environmental standards to apply to projects in Australia, and while it’s absolutely true that people have a right to go to court, this is a $21 billion investment, it will create 10,000 jobs in Queensland and elsewhere in our country,” Abbott said while talking to media on Friday.
“Let them go ahead for the workers of Australia and for the people of countries like India who right at the moment have no electricity,” Australian PM said while implying that coal exported from the proposed mega mine would have fired multiple power plants in the South Asian country.
Tony Abbott is believed to be worried about the message the Federal Court decision could give to the potential foreign investors. The continuous opposition to Adanis and other foreign investors in general can send wrong signals to those who are looking for investments in various sectors, he said.
“Already the Adani group has invested about $3 billion in Australia in preparation for this further investment,” Tony Abbott said.
Whatever the motive, Australian Prime Minister has come under severe attack for defending Adani’s project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Various political, environment protection and legal commentators have lambasted Tony Abbott for his comments.
NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham is among those who expressed concern at Tony Abbott’s ‘anti-judiciary’ remarks.
“These comments demonstrate a lack of understanding of the independent role of the courts in our democracy,” she was quoted in an article which is among the top read Fairfax Press articles.
“The courts exist to make decisions according to the law, not to further the interests of particular individuals or organisations, including government,” Needham said.
Although the Australian Opposition leader Bill Shorten did not say anything against Adani Group’s coal mine, he attacked the Liberal Government for the “haste” with which it approved the project.
“Half this mess we’re in with Adani is because the government rushed its approvals and then it got tripped up in the court system,” Bill Shorten said in a statement.
The environment protection groups have also joined the chorus of criticism.
“The legal system is in place to protect us and the world around us. Clearly the government thinks it is above the law,” Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Ellen Roberts said.
Adani too came under direct attack from others.
“It’s typical that Adani, who have ridden roughshod over India’s environment laws, consider Australia’s native animals mere technicalities.” Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Ellen Roberts has been quoted in Australian media as saying. Her organisation had launched the legal challenge against Adani Group
“These laws protect not only yakka skinks and ornamental snakes, but all Australian plants and animals,” Ellen Roberts said. These two illusive native animals see to have jeopardized the Indian conglomerate’s investment of $3 billion.
Greenpeace International, which is embroiled in a bitter legal battle with the Indian Government, has also fired a salvo at someone defending the commercial interests of a person considered very close to Prime minister Narendra Modi.
“It deeply, deeply concerns me when a government that claims to be, not only a democracy, but claims to be a promoter of democracy, would bark at the judiciary when they exercise their role and their independence,” executive director of Greenpeace International Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.
(Rekha Bhattacharjee can be contacted at email@example.com)