'Get on with it': Morrison, Adani welcome deadline to resolve approvals

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joined Adani in welcoming the Queensland government's self-imposed three-week deadline to resolve two outstanding environmental approvals.

Adani CEO Lucas Dow has welcomed a commitment by the Queensland government to finalise the outstanding environmental approvals needed for the mine within three weeks. 

"It's good news. We now have certainty on timing and process," he told reporters in Brisbane on Friday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has set a deadline for the state government to resolve the approvals by June 13.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he has spoken with India's newly re-elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and took the opportunity to reassure him of the close bilateral trading ties. 

"I was talking to Prime Minister Modi last night, to congratulate him on his election win, and he was kindly returning the favour. And India is going to be an incredibly important investment partner for Australia, and it's a two-way street," he said.

Mr Morrison said he also welcomes the deadline.

"Get on with it. Regardless of who's proposing a mine, or what the mine is, it just should comply with the relevant regulation and legislation, like any other project, and people should have the certainty about those processes being followed."

Adani and state environment department officials met on Thursday to agree on the deadline to finalise the environmental approvals one way or another.

The Adani Abbot Point coal terminal and the Caley Valley Wetlands.
Source: AAP Image/Supplied by the Australian Conservation Foundation, Gary Farr

Ms Palaszczuk ordered the meeting after federal Labor's bruising defeat in regional Queensland electorates that want the jobs the mine promises.

Ms Palaszczuk said a decision was expected by May 31 on Adani's plan to protect the endangered black throated finch, which lives on the mine site.

A decision on the company's groundwater management plan is due by June 13.

"I know initially people thought this was months, what I'm announcing today (is) it's a matter of weeks," she told reporters in Cairns on Friday, dubbing the announcement a "breakthrough" in talks with Adani.

"I am very pleased that all parties have come to the table and have been working with the coordinator-general."

On Wednesday, after Labor's shock defeat at the federal election, the Queensland Premier said she was "fed up" with procedural delays that have plagued the mine, and she acknowledged regional Queenslanders were fed up with it too.

Adani Australia boss Lucas Dow said he felt emboldened after the "constructive and positive" meeting with state government officials.

Mr Dow said after 18 months of working with the state government, the company is confident of getting the approvals.

Anti-Adani coal mine protestors. (AAP)
Source: AAP

"We're committed to seeing this project through. We're seeking to finalise these plans with the Department of Environment and Science. We've jumped their hurdles."

He said work would begin immediately once the approvals are given the green light.

'Construction to start almost immediately'

"People should expect to see a steady ramp up of jobs...The reality is that our construction activity will start almost immediately, the moment we've got these approvals." 

The CSIRO will still need to sign off on the groundwater management plan should it get state approval.

Anti-Adani protesters receive frosty reception in Queensland's Clermont

Adani considers the outstanding Queensland approvals the greatest threat to its mine, but there are also some federal approvals, legal challenges and a dispute with some Indigenous owners.

The miner has repeatedly accused the Queensland government of using delaying tactics to block the mine, including changing the goal posts for its environmental plans.

It says the government has been reviewing various versions of its groundwater and finch management plans for more than two years.

Adani says jobs will be for locals

Mr Dow said the priority would be on offering jobs to locals and not to overseas workers on 457 visas.

The construction arm of the CFMEU has raised concerns about mine automation and workers being shipped in from India under a visa program.

"One of the key commitments we've made is that we will not be engaging with 457 visas for our project. We have a clear local employment strategy. We have a key focus around Rockhampton and Townsville."

The Queensland Resources Council has said the mine will create 1500 ongoing jobs and another 6750 during its construction.

Queensland Premier defends stance on Adani

Ms Palaszczuk will remain in northern Australia after this week travelling to regions where voters shunned Labor at last week's federal election, with the result attributed to delays plaguing the mine.

She denied backflipping on the Carmichael mine planned for the Galilee Basin in the wake of the federal election.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has intervened to order a deadline for Adani approvals.
Source: AAP

"It's not a new position, OK? I've said clearly that we need time frames," she told reporters in Townsville on Friday.

Residents in Rockhampton have planned a "day of action" rally in support of Adani.

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow said it was time for Adani to get a "fair go".

Stop Adani continues to oppose mine

The Stop Adani movement vowed to continue its war against the mine, saying the federal election result wasn't a mandate for Queensland to fast-track the mine.

Spokesman and Mackay Conservation Group coordinator Peter McCallum said Adani, Clive Palmer and the mining industry had used their power to buy a federal election outcome that suited them.

"But the vast majority of Australians, including most in regional Queensland, don't support this coal mine," he said in a statement.

"The delay in Adani's plans being approved is because they've been grossly inadequate."

Additional reporting: AAP

Published 24 May 2019 at 9:54am, updated 24 May 2019 at 1:14pm
Source: SBS News