THE FATE of Adani's Carmichael mine could rest in the hands of a self-proclaimed anti-coal activist and ecology professor from the University of Melbourne.

Central Queensland Senator, Matt Canavan has hit back at the Queensland Government following the controversial appointment of an independent panel to review Adani's Black-Throated Finch Management Plan.

The threatened black-throated finch could prove to be the undoing of Adani's Carmichael project following a State Government decision to outsource the review of the mine's management plan to a third party, in a move Adani said "has shifted the goal-post".

Early reports said the Threatened Species Recovery Hub (TSRH) had been selected by the State Government to review one of Adani's environmental management plans, which could decide the fate of the Carmichael mine.

The Adani coal mine will put an endangered finch on a fast track to extinction, experts trying to save it have warned the federal government. The southern black-throated finch will lose prime habitat to the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland's Galilee Basin and Adani's plan to offset those effects are grossly inadequate, the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team warns in a new report.
The Adani coal mine will put an endangered finch on a fast track to extinction, experts trying to save it have warned the federal government. The southern black-throated finch will lose prime habitat to the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland's Galilee Basin and Adani's plan to offset those effects are grossly inadequate, the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team warns in a new report. ERIC VANDERDUYS

A statement from the Department of Environment and Science confirmed the department had appointed Professor Brendan Wintle, of TSRH, to lead an independent expert panel and that Professor Wintle was putting together a panel of up to six leading scientific experts to conduct the review.

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"DES took no part in selecting the membership of the panel, and did not contract the Threatened Species Recovery Hub to conduct the review," the statement said.

Despite the confusion, questions still loom as to whether Professor Wintle, an open anti-coal activist, would be able to carry out the review with impartiality.

Senator Canavan yesterday said the State Government had become "hijacked".

"This is just another step down the path of what seems to be a process where green activists have hijacked the Queensland Labor Government," Senator Canavan said.

"I don't think too many Queenslanders realised when they were electing Annastasia Palaszczuk, they were actually putting the likes of Bob Brown and his ilk in charge.

"That is what seems to have happened here.

"The Queensland Government is abrogating their responsibility to make a decision over the Carmichael mine and flicking it off to a group of activists who are known opponents of the coal industry and this particular project."

 

UNDER FIRE: Ecology Professor Brendan Wintle has the fate of the Carmichael mine in his hands.
UNDER FIRE: Ecology Professor Brendan Wintle has the fate of the Carmichael mine in his hands.

Senator Canavan accused the State Government of dragging their feet on a decision regarding the Carmichael mine, and has challenged Labor leader Bill Shorten to take a stance.

"This is an abuse of process - this is meant to be an independent process which assesses the environmental impact of major projects without interference from political organisations with an agenda," he said.

"The State Government has just gone and given this question off to a group of people who are opposed to the coal industry and jobs.

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"Is Bill Shorten going to stand behind his jobs slogan on his bus and stand up for jobs here in CQ or will he be on the side of green activists that have taken control of the Queensland Government?

"The Federal Government has already ticked off and approved this environmental management plan regarding the black-throated finch - it's been approved by the Federal Department of Environment on delegation from the Minister."

Version seven of the Black-Throated Finch Management Plan was submitted in 2018 and approved by the Federal Environment Department in December 2018.

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An Adani spokesperson, under the assumption that TSRH would be conducting the review, has accused the State Government of secrecy and vagueness following the decision to put an independent panel in charge of the review.

"The Department has not provided any explanation to Adani as to why the review is required, or the final timeframes attached to its completion."

Adani has previously questioned the integrity of TSRH members and their ability to conduct a fair review following a history of conflict between some members and the company.

"We are extremely concerned that members of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub have repeatedly spoken publicly that they disagree with coal mining, offset management strategies and on occasion, directly criticised the Carmichael Project," the spokesperson said.

"We hold very serious concerns as to how the Threatened Species Recovery Hub could provide independent advice on the Black-Throated Finch Management Plan, when they are outspokenly biased on matters directly related to our project and coal generally."

The expert review is expected to be completed in February and the findings will aid a decision regarding the acceptance of the BTFMP.

Adani's proposed coal mine site hosts the largest and most significant population of the Black-Throated Finch in Australia.



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