In late 2017, the Australia's Four Corners TV programme travelled to India to investigate the business practices of energy giant Adani. This followed revelations of plans in Central Queensland's Galilee Basin to create Australia's largest ever coal-mining operation to feed India's thirst for the fossil fuel.
They exposed a complex web of allegations of bribery, corruption, money laundering, environmental crime and fraud. A quick search of the Times of India website reveals good analysis of ongoing investigations. A former Indian energy official said Australian politicians obviously hadn't done their homework in engaging with the company. Furthermore, the proposed mine could only proceed if the Australian Government extended a multimillion-dollar loan to the company, along with attractive subsidies.
The perilous stakes of this mine became a robust election issue. The stagnating communities of Central Queensland were crying out for support for the new mine, hoping for jobs and prosperity. Environmental protests were widely derided as anti-Australian nonsense.
Using the Adani mine as a case in point, the mining of fossil fuels — especially on this scale — is no longer a viable alternative if we are yet to resolve the impact on our fragile eco-life-support system.
Last month, the Queensland Labor administration extinguished Native Title over some 1300ha of sacred land belonging to the Wangan and Jagalingou tribes, which covers the proposed mine site.
Adani is said to be working closely with the aboriginal communities, now trespassers on their own land, "to ensure the customs and wishes of indigenous people are respected and supported".
Swept up in an arc from Gladstone to far western Jericho and north to coastal Bowen above Mackay, are the many hundreds (if not thousands) of New Zealanders and their families who have moved over in pursuit of jobs. For decades, they formed part of the skill-trades and labour backbone of projects in this region, and are now perched alongside ambivalent communities like Rockhampton and Mackay, waiting for the money to roll again.
As a glimpse of how stagnant economies are in this region, just north of the coastal town of Yeppoon was the Japanese-owned Iwasaki Capricorn International Resort. It was once the go-to place for locals and western miners with their families to escape for the weekend. In July drone footage surfaced of this resort, now abandoned and looking more like Chernobyl. Not to be outdone, the once legendary resort of Great Keppel Island was finally demolished last year.
Like the burning jungles of the Amazon and Indonesia, this has relevance to us all. Twenty-first century problems can no longer be resolved with 1980s solutions.
Using the Adani mine as a case in point, the mining of fossil fuels — especially on this scale — is no longer a viable alternative if we are yet to resolve the impact on our fragile eco-life-support system. Stagnating communities need to rethink to survive in an eco-friendly world. And Governments can ill-afford to ignore the ramifications of selling mineral and ecological wealth in exchange for a short-term gain, with maximum long-term regret.