Adani 'betrayal': Canavan lashes out at Qld Government
LNP SENATOR Matt Canavan has accused the Queensland Government of betrayal and leading Adani and the people of North Queensland 'down the garden path' in a fiery debate in the senate.
During Question Time in the Senate Chamber, Queensland Senator Pauline Hanson quizzed the CQ-based Minister for Resources and Northern Australia on the construction of the Adani rail line and the Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's reluctance to support it being partially funded by the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
It comes after Premier Palaszczuk earlier this month revealed she would veto the proposed $1 billion loan for the major mining project.
Senator Hanson said her party supported the mine and rail line, and her stance was that the rail line should be built and funded by both Queensland and Australian governments based on the billions of dollars profit it would generate for many years to come.
In a bid to seemingly strike a deal with the LNP, the One Nation leader queried if One Nation gains the balance of power in Qld, whether Senator Canavan would work with the Qld Government to provide funds to the people of Queensland to build and own the line.
"Queensland's Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk until recently supported the rail being built by Adani and being partially funded by Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for approximately $1 billion,” Senator Hanson said.
"Do you believe the Premier's reluctance to support the loan now is due to conflict of interest regarding her partner or has she used this as a political tool to get Greens preferences, regardless of the thousands of jobs that will be lost in Queensland?”
Senator Canavan said the Labor Party was 'hiding from the embarrassment that is the Queensland government right now' and that until a few weeks ago he thought the Qld Labor Government were on side with the Adani project.
"I want important nation-building projects in this country to be bipartisan. We should be able to work together to create these kinds of opportunities and jobs,” Senator Canavan said.
"I thought they did, because a few months ago or early last year the Queensland government wrote to the federal government, saying that we should look to use NAIF funds-the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility funds-to fund the Galilee Basin rail line. That's what they said.
"Behind the scenes they were encouraging Adani. They were saying: 'Please apply to the NAIF. Don't apply here to us; go down to Canberra and get the funds there.' And then they led Adani and the people of North Queensland down the garden path.
"Then, a few weeks ago, the Premier came out and said that she had to veto and oppose this project. That was an act of betrayal against the interests of job seekers in North Queensland. And, worse, she used an excuse that didn't even stack up-didn't even subject it to closer scrutiny. It was not even correct and she tried to mislead and misconstrue it to the Queensland people.”
Senator Hanson queried whether the potential lack of funding for the railway jeopardise the Adani mine going ahead, and the loss of jobs and royalties along with it to Qld.
Senator Canavan said he hoped the project withstands the 'chopping and changing of policy positions from the Qld Labor government'.
"We're trying to attract billions of dollars of investment to this country and that requires governments that have a certain level of consistency and long standing support for a job-creating project,” he said.
"You cannot chop and change your position to a company that wants to invest billions of dollars and expect it to have no impact at all.
"What is worse, as I was saying, the Premier tried to claim that she had to veto this project because of the conflict of interest with her partner. But then it was revealed what the advice to her about this perceived conflict of interest was from the Integrity Commissioner.
"The Integrity Commissioner said that her preferred option was for the Premier to declare a conflict of interest to the CBRC and to, 'Exclude yourself from decisions'. She acted directly against that advice and directly against the interests of the Queensland people.”
In terms of potentially striking a deal with a One Nation led Qld Government, Senator Canavan said the only way to remove Premier Palaszczuk's conflict of interest with the project was to remove her as Qld Premier.
"Now that we're so close to making this happen, it has been threatened and put at risk by the actions of the Queensland Labor Party. The Premier of Queensland has admitted that she has a conflict with the creation of jobs in North Queensland,” he said.
"If we remove the Queensland Premier, the conflict of interest against jobs is gone and we can get on with it, create these jobs and create economic opportunity in North Queensland.”
A spokesman for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged Adani to get on with the job.
"As the Premier has said, Adani announced it had given the 'green light' for the Carmichael Coal mine and rail projects on 6 June,” the spokesman said
"The Premier attended the announcement by Adani. Mr Canavan also attended. It's time for Adani to get on with it.”