When the Fairfax proselytisers, the Guardian do-gooders, the ABC inner-city trendies and a grab-bag of leftie greens all join with the tax-payer subsidised Australian Conservation Foundation and its equally ‘charitable’ associates, to fight the good fight against coal in general (and Queensland’s Indian-owned Adani proposed mine in particular), facts come a bad second to sanctimony. The Sydney Morning Herald laid its Easter egg with an editorial damning the Adani project about which Prime Minister Turnbull had just assured Indian PM Modi (and Modi’s close friend Gautam Adani) of his government’s support and that some minor legislative problems would be fixed. This was for a project that all major political parties endorse as in the national interest – apart from some blatantly political reservations from Bill Shorten on the rail link. According to the SMH, Adani’s $16 billion Carmichael project is ‘A bad idea with foreseeable bad consequences that may yet prove unstoppable… It would be yet another piece of embarrassing climate change denialism that sets us apart from more forward thinking nations, including China and India, that are walking away from coal in favour of renewables’.
Naturally, the SMH did not mention that in order to lower emissions, both China and India are busily installing the very High Efficiency Low Emission coal-fired power stations that Australia has shunned for its risky rush to over-reliance on renewables to our huge economic cost. China has the world’s highest deployment of this HELE technology, with its existing 579 generators to be supplemented by another 575 planned or under construction. And India intends to add 395 to its existing 49 HELE plants, many of which would hopefully be burning higher quality lower polluting Adani Carmichael coal than India currently uses. As PM Turnbull said in his joint press conference last week with PM Modi, ‘We’re pleased to be providing India with quantities of high quality coal for steelmaking and increasingly for power generation with advanced supercritical technology’. The ABC’s consistent anti-Adani line, involves giving plenty of airtime to whatever is the latest activist stunt aimed at blocking the mine. Last week it was a spurious claim from a repeatedly used environmental lawyer that the independent directors of the North Australia Infrastructure Facility would be in breach of their duties if they agreed to grant a concessional $900 million loan to build the $1.8 billion 390 kilometre rail link from mine to port (conditional on the line being made available to any other mines in the basin). Then a report on India’s plans to increase renewable energy was described as ‘raising doubts about the Indian-owned Adani mine’. And the ABC has run allegations of conflict of interest, of involvement in overseas pollution and questions of illegality and tax dodging. Last week the chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia, Vanessa Guthrie, became the government’s (but not the selection panel’s) pick to be appointed an ABC Commissioner; she faces an uphill battle to get a fair go on the ABC for mining – and especially coal.
But the daddy of them all was last week’s front page of the SMH with the fake news from the tax-deductible ACF jointly with the similarly subsidised Australian Marine Conservation Society involving photographs purporting to show that Adani had caused coal dust pollution on beaches near its Abbott Point terminal. It was not coal, but the naturally-occurring mineral sand magnetite. The MCS admits it never verified the presence of coal on the beach. These are among the many ‘charitable’ organisations whose tax deductible donations are used to campaign against government-approved infrastructure programs. And the Townsville Bulletin revealed this month that the Queensland Labor government granted $600,000 to a green activist legal group behind ‘countless court actions’ against the Adani coal development – that the Qld government strongly supports. Did the ACF spend tax-deductible donations to send a group to India ‘to tell Adani that Australians don’t want this coal mine and will continue to fight it tooth and nail’? These lawfare warriors will be funding their fight against government-approved major projects by courtesy of tax deductions that effectively add to the tax burden of the rest of us.
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