The fight over the controversial $16.5 billion Adani mine burst out into the open over the weekend with Labor attacking Adani chief executive Jayakumar Janakaraj’s claims that the ALP’s scepticism over the project was undermining foreign investment in Australia.
“It’s a bit rich for a company who originally said that they didn’t need taxpayer support for this project to go ahead, and then five minutes later stuck their hand out for a $1 billion loan, to be talking about whether we’re an attractive investment destination,” Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday,
“We have every right as a nation to say we’ll make decisions in our own best interests, in the best interests of our economy and our environment”
Janakaraj had told the Weekend Australian that Labor’s attacks on what would be the biggest coal mine in the southern hemisphere had destabilised Australia’s attractiveness as an investment location.
“It casts doubt on Australia’s ability to continue to be an investment-attractive destination,” Janakaraj told the newspaper.
“That’s the broader context we need to focus on, and not just on one project in any sense.”
Adani had a setback last week when Australia’s largest rail freight company Aurizon said it would withdraw for a loan application from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to build the massive rail corridor to carry Adani’s coal to the Abbott Point coal terminal.
This means that Adani’s plans for the mine remain stuck on the drawing board.
Adani became a political issue last year during the Queensland state election when the Queensland Labor government said it would veto the loan.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten last week accused Adani of holding out the “promise of fake jobs, saying the company’s missing of deadlines was raising questions about its capacity to fund the coal mine.
Labor’s scepticism about the mine coincides with the looming Batman by-election where the party is struggling to fend off the Greens. Polling shows the Adani mine is unpopular in inner city seats.
Plibersek denied Labor’s criticism of the mine had anything to do with the crucial by-election but said the company’s promise to create jobs needed to be analysed.
“We do need to answer questions about jobs in central and northern Queensland but we also need to make sensible decisions about this project and really answer whether it stacks up environmentally and economically,” Ms Plibersek said.