Canavan gives Adani protesters a Serena serve
SENATOR Matt Canavan says greenie protesters have thrown a Serena Williams as he responded to activist plans to block the "unstoppable" Adani coal mine project.
The Rockhampton-based senator lambasted green activists after they announced a campaign for illegal direct action to stop development of the Galilee Basin coal fields and disrupt .
"Now that it looks unstoppable, the Greens have thrown a Serena Williams and reverted to abusing the umpire, not respecting them," Senator Canavan said yesterday.
"The Greens regularly point to the rulings of environmental regulators when it suits them. When the regulators make a ruling they don't like, the Greens say that they are entitled to break the law. Imagine the reaction if a mining company were to say that they have the right to flout the law."
Activists said in a Sunday Mail report that they would target rail giant Aurizon after Adani announced plans to connect with the freight rail operator's network to haul coal from its proposed Carmichael mega-mine in Central Queensland.
"Anyone involved in opening up the Galilee Basin is very much open to direct action. It will affect Aurizon and Aurizon's existing customers," Galilee Blockade group leader Ben Pennings said.
Mr Canavan said Adani had received all its approvals (and over 300 strict conditions have been placed on them), won every one of 13 court cases that green activists had thrown at them pointing out that local indigenous traditional owners voted 293 to one in favour of the mine.
"Last year, green activists claimed that the Adani project was uneconomic and wouldn't make money. They, and the Labor party which joined them, argued that we therefore should not invest in a rail line that would open up the first Australian coal basin for 50 years and help create 15,000 direct jobs in Central Queensland," he said.
"Over the past year, the Labor-Green arguments on coal have proven to be bunkum. Coal demand is running hot in our region. Prices are near record highs, at over US$115 a tonne. For the last 12 months, coal has overtaken iron ore as Australia's biggest export industry."
He said Adani had responded to last year's attempt by the Palaszczuk government to "sabotage" their project (the Premier blocked a proposed $1b NAIF loan for the mine's rail project) by opting to build a smaller rail line that hooks into the existing Aurizon coal network.
"Now that the Greens have lost the economic arguments, they have reverted to type and are openly seeking to break the law. As Ben Pennings, the leader of Galilee Blockade, threatened in The Sunday Mail yesterday "Aurizon has a clear choice - change your business model or we will break it," he said.
"The greenies are no different from a naughty child. When they lose the argument, they throw the teddy out of the cot and seek to get their way through threats and yelling - not debate."
Protest action is expected to include activists stopping trains in regional and urban areas, chaining themselves to machinery, and blocking distribution, refuelling centres and picketing offices.
Mr Canavan said this latest development by activists was a real test for the Labor party.
"When Bill Shorten was in Rockhampton earlier this year, he said that he had spent his life representing coal workers. Just weeks later in Melbourne, Bill Shorten backflipped and said about Adani that 'it is no secret that I don't like it very much'," he said.
"It perplexes me that a Labor party that was founded in Central Queensland (under a tree in Barcaldine) to protect jobs, now says that they don't like the creation of jobs. Is the Labor party on the side of the greenie lawbreakers or the mining job creators?
The Liberal National Party has always been on the side of creating jobs in Central Queensland. You won't hear Michelle Landry or Ken O'Dowd say one thing in Central Queensland and a different thing in Canberra.
"There is no more important question for Central Queensland ahead of the next Federal election. The opening up of the Galilee is a game changing proposition for our region. It promises local jobs that will mean that our children do not need to leave home just to get a job."
"The CEO of Adani, Lucas Dow, summed up best last week when he said '... my old man was an interstate truck driver. It has always struck me how hard he worked to give us a go and how well remunerated I have been as a result of the opportunities he and the mining industry have afforded me. That was all on the back of the Bowen Basin coal industry being opened up. I started work in the coal industry at the Goonyella mine. I am a parochial Queenslander and I really want to see this get up. This is personal, there is a personal drive there'.
"For Michelle, Ken and myself, it is personal too. We want to see our region thrive."
Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke (Labor) criticised the activists' plans for disrupting Aurizon and Adani through illegal action methods.
"I recognise people's right to protest but it must always be lawful," he said yesterday.
"I do not condone illegal activity."
Bill Shorten's office was approached for comment at 3.20pm yesterday.