Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017; Second Reading

3:56 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum related to the bill and to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017 (the bill) will make sure that the Australian Government cannot hand out $1 billion to Adani for their coal railway via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) by creating a broad "suitable person" test under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016 (the Act).

This test would examine investigations and findings against members of the Adani corporate group for fraud, money laundering, tax minimisation and corruption. This test would involve mandatory consultation with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

The bill would also strengthen our national environment laws (the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 or EPBC Act) to make sure environmental history must be considered when approvals are given.

Finally, it would trigger an automatic review of Adani's existing approvals focusing on the group's environmental history, including approvals for the Carmichael mine, coal railway and the Abbot Point coal port in light of the damning evidence that has emerged since those approvals were first given in 2014 and 2015.

This bill is the next step in the movement to stop Adani.

This is a dodgy company, pushing an environmentally and economically destructive project.

The Adani mine is the best, and most appalling example of the way big parties are working for big business, not for ordinary people.

Australians know our political system is broken and our economic system is rigged against everyday people. The same system that lets greedy bankers rip off everyday people with the full protection of politicians, is the one that lets Adani take unlimited groundwater from Queensland where nearly 90 per cent of the State is in drought.

The same system that lets property developers steamroll over local residents with insider deals is the one that looks set to hand over $1 billion in public money to a multinational mining company.

That system lets political donations buy influence and outcomes, and locks out the community.

Adani, the banks, insurance companies and the big end of town have made the donations and have got the well-paid lobbyists and the well-connected former politicians. All we've got is people power. Despite that, when ordinary people stand up, we can win!

The Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners have been standing strong against this dangerous mine. They've told Adani time and again—no means no.

Despite that opposition, and the groundswell of support across Australia for the Stop Adani movement, the Liberals and Labor refuse to stop this mine.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is set to take money away from battling families and give a $1 billion handout to a tax dodging, environmentally ruinous, mining company under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

Queensland Labor has the power to block the handover of public funds but won't do it. Instead they encourage Adani to export its environmental vandalism here, granting it special legal status and dodgy deals like a 60-year unlimited groundwater licence.

Queensland Labor can block the $1 billion loan to Adani under federal law, but they're refusing to honour their word at the last election.

Leader of the Opposition, Mr Bill Shorten, could stop this dangerous mine tomorrow—all he needs to do is announce his Government would review their environmental approvals on the basis of the avalanche of evidence of environmental destruction, corruption investigations, money laundering allegations, fraud investigations, the coal ship sinking and the worker exploitation that's happened in India.

Coal kills people, destroys livelihoods and drives global warming that is killing the Great Barrier Reef, and if this mine goes ahead, 2.3 billion tonnes of coal will be dug up and burned.

For the first time in its ancient history, the Great Barrier Reef has suffered two successive years of mass coral bleaching, and the scientists attribute that to climate change. This World Heritage icon and underwater paradise teems with biodiversity and attracts tourists which support over 60,000 jobs—all are put at risk by the emissions from the coal from this mine.

Overseas, Adani is under investigation for money laundering, fraud and corruption, including allegedly bribing public officials.

If the Adani mine goes ahead, it's been reported that $3 billion will be funnelled directly to the Adani family via a company based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.

Adani have ignored environmental laws causing irreversible damage. Their shocking environmental track record has recently been summarised in The Mani Brief released recently by Environmental Justice Australia and Earthjustice.

Under the NAIF Act, there currently is nothing to stop a company with such an awful track record from being given public money. There is no suitable person test at all. Our bill would fix that.

Our bill would also fix the disgraceful situation where the Environment Minister can simply chose to ignore the shocking overseas track record of a company, just because breaches occurred overseas.

Right now, some of the most shocking revelations about Adani's track record cannot be considered under Australian law, because the incidents concerned occurred under the watch of another member of the Adani corporate group. As it stands, the EPBC Act only contemplates the environmental history of a parent or subsidiary company. Our bill would fix that by expanding the test to include any associated entity as defined in the Corporations Act 2001.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition Mr Bill Shorten have a choice: support our bill, or back the mining billionaires.

If they don't back this bill, it's proof they work for their political donor mates not ordinary Australians.

I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.