Senator DI NATALE (Victoria—Leader of the Australian Greens) (11:05): The Greens are once again bringing the Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017 to stop Adani’s massive polluting coalmine because we think it’s about time that other parties in this place finally see some sense. We know that the ABC program Four Corners recently did a damning expose that highlighted the litany of corrupt activities—tax-dodging on a monumental scale and environmental destruction—in Adani’s operation elsewhere around the world. That Four Corners expose made it very clear that this is a company that should never be supported by the Australian community. Indeed, we’re hoping that in this place both the government and the opposition will stand up for the Australian people and for a healthy environment and stop Adani in its tracks.
This bill would make sure that the government can’t hand a billion dollars of taxpayer money—that is, money that belongs to every Australian citizen—to facilitate the development of this mine because it won’t stack up on its own two feet. It would do this by introducing what’s known as a suitable person test. It would also strengthen our environmental laws to make sure that the environmental history of a company needs to be considered when approvals are given. It would trigger a review into the approvals that Adani has already been given by this government, including the review done into the Carmichael mine. It would also look at the approvals given for the coal railway infrastructure project and the Abbot Point coal port.
It is remarkable that a company like Adani could have been given those approvals after what was revealed by the nation’s premier current affairs program just a few weeks ago. Just think about their activities. They have been proven to have engaged in corruption. They have their tax affairs managed in such a way that money is funnelled to tax havens like the Cayman Islands for the benefit of a few individuals. How on earth are we considering allowing this company, with its track record, to build a giant mine when it has this clear history of corruption, of tax dodging and of environmental vandalism? Most importantly, how is it that both the major parties in this place say that they support the development of the Adani mine? In Queensland, the Queensland Labor Party have said that they will give Adani a series of royalty holidays. Federally, here, the coalition have indicated that they are prepared to throw a billion dollars of taxpayer money at the mine.
Four Corners went into great detail about the behaviour of this company. We heard stories about young kids who have debilitating asthma because Adani doesn’t do what we know it should do in securing those giant piles of coal. Coal is a very dangerous and dirty substance. Coal, when it’s burnt and indeed when it’s mined, produces particulate matter. This is something that the World Health Organization and, indeed, all medical bodies accept—that the mining and burning of coal creates significantly harmful effects to individuals who are exposed to the products of combustion and coal mining. Particulate matter, getting deep into the lungs, causes lung disease—including diseases like emphysema and high rates of lung cancer—cardiovascular disease and a range of other serious medical conditions. There is no dispute within the medical community about the association between the mining and burning of coal and the serious and devastating impacts that coal has on individuals. Adani has shown itself to be reckless when it comes to protecting the health of individuals, because of the way it operates its coal mines. Adani has also, through its environmental vandalism, ripped up mangrove conservation areas without seeking prior approval, and it has blocked the access of fishing families to their traditional fishing grounds.
Adani was fined almost a million Australian dollars for failing to clean up after its unseaworthy ship sank off the coast of India. Yet here we are with both the Liberal and Labor parties still wanting to allow this company to export coal through the Great Barrier Reef. It is remarkable that a company with that track record would still be given licence in this place by both Liberal and Labor. I haven’t even gone into great detail about Adani’s record of corruption and their record of tax avoidance, but we know that five Adani companies are now under investigation for using the so-called black money. It’s bribed officials with huge sums of money, and it was involved in a massive illegal iron ore export scam. It seems that all of the money that flows to tax havens across the world flows in a way that makes sure that Adani doesn’t pay its tax. It’s a company that pollutes. It’s a company with a track record of corruption. It has a track record of not paying its fair share.
The bill would finally put an end to the massive disaster that is the Carmichael coal mine. If it was a country, it would be the seventh-biggest polluter on the planet. It would release a dirty, great climate bomb that would see 2.3 billion tonnes of coal dug up over 60 years. It would open up the entire Galilee Basin, which has enough coal, if burnt, as I said, to make it the seventh-largest polluter on the planet. Yet here we are with both the Liberal-Nationals and the ALP going full steam ahead with Adani, rolling out the red carpet and falling over themselves to facilitate a massive billion-dollar taxpayer loan. And, of course, they’re also looking at giving it unlimited groundwater licences at the expense of the farmers who rely on that water resource. This is polluting the land, polluting the air, and stripping away a water resource that belongs to all Australians.
I say to the Prime Minister and to the Leader of the Opposition: you’ve got an opportunity to stop this in its tracks. To be frank, we’ve given up on the Liberal Party. We have given up on the Liberal Party taking a stand. But Bill Shorten has an opportunity here. Say that you’re going to review those environmental approvals. Do everything you can to say that you will, if elected, review those approvals, and no-one, no financier, will touch this with a barge pole. Together we can make sure that this mine is defeated. But, if the parliament fails, make no mistake, we will be there standing with the community, making sure that, one way or another, this polluting, jobs-destroying, climate-killing mine never gets built.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Bernardi ): Senator O’Sullivan, I know that you are seeking the call. You have previously spoken on this matter, and you were in continuation when this debate resumed. You missed your chance to speak, or to continue from your previous remarks, so understanding order 188 you would need to seek leave to speak again on this matter if you want to make a further contribution.
Senator O’Sullivan: I seek leave to speak further on this matter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is leave granted?
Senator Di Natale: No.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is not granted.
Senator O’Sullivan: I seek clarification. Can leave be denied by one voice?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Under the standing orders, any senator is able to deny leave. I just want to confirm this. Senator O’Sullivan is seeking leave to speak on this matter. Is leave granted?
Senator Di Natale: No.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is not granted, Senator O’Sullivan. Resume your seat.
Senator O’Sullivan interjecting—
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator O’Sullivan, resume your seat. Order!
Senator Fawcett: On a point of order, Senator O’Sullivan is not seeking another entire 20-minute block of time; he is seeking to continue his remarks. The normal practice is that people in continuation are able to complete their remarks. I accept that he wasn’t the immediate speaker when the debate resumed. Procedurally, that is unfortunate, but, from the point of view of fair debate in this place, I request that the Greens consider whether they wish to deny the opportunity for somebody to make a contribution up to the full 20 minutes, which is the time that senators in this place are normally entitled to.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: By means of clarification, yes, you’re right in the terms of what might be reasonable for people to consider. However, under the terms of the standing orders, Senator O’Sullivan did miss the call for his continuation, which means his contribution has been completed. If he is granted leave to speak further, he would have the opportunity to speak for a full 20 minutes. If Senator O’Sullivan chose to confine his comments to, perhaps, the balance of his previous speech, that would be entirely fitting, but he needs leave in order to do so. And leave has been denied.
Chamber Senate on 10/2017 Item BILLS – Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017 – Second Reading Speaker : Di Natale, Sen Richard Parliment Transcript used for Reporting News