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Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan has demanded Annastacia Palaszczuk clarify whether her vow to block a federal loan for the Adani mine extends to other projects in the vast new Galilee coal field, warning this would destroy investor confidence.
Senator Canavan said veto of the $1 billion loan to Adani from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, announced by the Premier during the Queensland election campaign, could stop the Indian company building a railway to the mine and jeopardise the $16.5bn project.
But the Premier’s office refused to say yesterday whether the ban on the Indian company would apply to the NAIF loan sought by coal and freight hauler Aurizon to fund a rival rail link to service planned Galilee mines, including Adani.
With Ms Palaszczuk close to being returned for a second term, possibly strengthened by an outright majority in the new parliament, Senator Canavan will seek clarification of the Adani veto when vote counting is finalised.
“I will need a strong commitment from the Queensland government if they do seek to proceed with other proposals for the Galilee basin,” he said.
“They have acted in a duplicitous and investor-destroying way and they will need to restore confidence in their … supposed support for opening up the Galilee basin in a way that rebuilds trust.”
Under NAIF rules, a state or territory government must administer loans approved by the federal infrastructure fund, giving Queensland the power to scuttle the line of credit to Adani.
Senator Canavan said the “inconsistency” of Ms Palaszczuk’s position on the NAIF loan threatened investment confidence in projects across Queensland, not only in the Galilee.
“Keep in mind they initially applied for this loan,” he said, referring to the Labor government. “They wrote to us 18 months ago requesting we provide funding for the Galilee rail line, they confirmed that six months ago and behind the scenes they have been even more proactive in encouraging Adani to apply for the NAIF loan and then three minutes to midnight they pull their support.
“Obviously, there is a rebuilding of trust required, between our two governments ... and presumably with any proponent that wants to proceed in the Galilee.”
Ms Palaszczuk’s office forwarded previously released statements and correspondence concerning the Adani loan veto.
In announcing the surprise action on November 3, Ms Palaszczuk had said it was to pre-empt a Liberal National Party “smear” over the involvement of her live-in partner in preparing the NAIF loan application for Adani. She then qualified this, saying the veto was in line with a 2015 Labor election pledge that no state funding would go to Adani. The LNP insisted, however, the Premier’s priority was to appease the Greens and city voters opposed to coalmining ahead of last Saturday’s election.
Senator Canavan said he was still unclear on Ms Palaszczuk’s position on Aurizon’s bid to gazump Adani with a shorter and cheaper Galilee coal line.
The 360km Adani line would connect to its coal terminal at Abbot Point near the north Queensland town of Bowen, costing about $2.5bn.
Aurizon’s line would be less than half that length, feeding into existing networks, with a price about $300 million.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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