The Australian government today admitted writing a letter to China backing Indian mining giant Adani’s controversy-hit Carmichael coal mine project in a bid to dispel “misinformation” campaign from the “radical left” to stop the 16.5 billion dollars venture, media reports said.
Attorney-General George Brandis told the Parliament that the government wrote to China that the project on the Galilee Basin had the full support of the Australian and Queensland governments despite a loud anti campaign.
Brandis’ comments came after crossbenchers raised concerns if the Federal Government was promoting the mining project to foreign governments to secure fundings.
“The Australian Government has written to the Government of China to confirm the project has received all necessary Queensland state government and Australian government environmental and mining approvals,” the ABC news reported.
“The government has made representations to dispel the misinformation campaign of those from the radical left who want to stop the project,” Brandis said.
Adani and the Queensland government have highlighted that the mine, which after its completion will be Australia’s largest coal mine, will prove beneficial for the region.
However, environmental activists are concerned about the potential impacts to the Great Barrier Reef as the coal will be shipped through areas close to the national icon.
“The government has expressed support for the opening up of the Galilee Basin and the Adani mines capacity to unlock that development the Australian government’s support for that project,” Brandis said, adding that any investment in the project would be subject to approvals by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Senate crossbenchers questioned the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officials following the left-leaning think tank ‘The Australian Institute’ using freedom of information laws to seek documents from DFAT relating to requests for foreign government financing for the project.
“The Australian government continues to welcome foreign investment that is in our national interest, including the Adani investment in the Carmichael mine project,” Senator Brandis said.
The letter provided facts and was not advocacy, he said.
Brandis said he was unaware if the letter was sent at Adani’s request when asked under questioning from Greens leader Richard Di Natale.
DFAT officials disclosed in the session that it was not the department’s role to seek finance for the Adani’s project.
Last week, a former politician Gary Johns lashed out at Greens for carrying out anti-mine campaign, calling their thinking “so short term”.
“Stopping an unrelated activity, a coal mine in Australia, at significant immediate cost to Australians and Indians will not stop climate change,” he said.
He noted that Adani, like many other proponents for resource extraction in Australia, has complied with environmental legislations.
Adani has claimed the billion dollar project will create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in central Queensland.
The company, which has managed to clear 200 stringent conditions for the project and several legal challenges from environmental groups, is aiming to start exporting coal via its Abbot Point coal terminal in 2020.