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Transcript of interview with Steve Austin: ABC 612 Brisbane Mornings: 6 December 2016: Adani Carmichael mine; Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

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Senator the Hon. Matt Canavan Minister for Resources and Northern Australia



Subjects: Adani Carmichael mine; Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

STEVE AUSTIN: In Townsville, the Group Chairman of Adani, Gautam Adani, will meet Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the [Minister] for Northern Australia, the Federal Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan. Matt Canavan, how significant is today?

MINISTER CANAVAN: Well it's a very important day for Queensland. I mean our state has been developed by major projects like Adani. It was the Thiess brothers back in the 1960s that had the vision to develop the Bowen Basin and partnered with Mitsui in Japan and got support for a rail line to Gladstone and

ended up exporting coal out to Japan. And that's changed our state, and helped supercharge our relationship with Japan which obviously became our most trading partner a few decades later.

Well we've got the same sort of opportunity here with India. India's another country on the rise, it's got huge potential, we obviously share a lot of cultural and historical ties to the country but our economic ties aren't as developed. And this deal is not just a good deal for regional Queensland, and Queensland it's a great deal for our country, developing those ties with a very important partner in South Asia.

STEVE AUSTIN: What are the key figures in terms of the size and the impact of the Carmichael project?

MINISTER CANAVAN: Well it's a large project, in total it will be somewhere around $20 billion but there it will be staged and phased. In the first phase, we expect something like 10,000 jobs to be created, direct and indirect jobs. That's exactly what North Queensland needs right now; employment in Townsville is above 10 per cent. It also means that we'll have a headquarters for the company in regional Queensland. It's going to start off with about 25 million tonnes of coal per annum, which is very significant. It will be one of the larger mines, pretty much the largest in Queensland but it's not…

STEVE AUSTIN: So this will be the largest, this will be the largest mine of any sort in Queensland?

MINISTER CANAVAN: Most mines are around about 7 million or 8 million tonnes per annum. Obviously often they’re a collection of mines close together that coordinate. This particular development all up will be 25 million tonnes per annum to start with. But the key thing here too is it's not just about Adani. If this project goes ahead, it will open up the Galilee Basin which will be the first time our country opens up a new coal basin for 40 years. So it's a major development and once of course the rail line's built to that new basin, other mines that are in the area, like MacMines, GVK, Waratah potentially can get

off the ground too and create even more jobs.

STEVE AUSTIN: I'm talking with the Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Matt Canavan. This is 612 ABC Brisbane. The Adani coal mine has been offered a $1 billion sort of finance facility by the Federal Government. Why, just explain that to me…

MINISTER CANAVAN: Well just to partially correct you there, Steve, it hasn't been offered to them at this stage. They are being assessed for a potential loan at this stage. The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is a $5 billion bank, if you like, to provide loans to infrastructure across Northern Australia. And they have taken the Adani Galilee rail project - that is, not the mine, but the rail component - through to the next stage of due diligence. They'll look more closely over the next few months at the figures from Adani and make a decision about whether they would propose financing and then, only then, the Government has to make a decision if that happens. So…

STEVE AUSTIN: They're quoted in newspapers today saying they don't need the $1 billion loan.

MINISTER CANAVAN: Well they're obviously in discussions with different financiers at the moment and I had discussions with Adani about this, and I don't think it's an accurate characterisation, that position. I haven't seen

those reports in the newspaper, but I'll let them speak for themselves on that matter. But a condition of our funding in the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is that there isn’t available private finance. So if that's the case, we won't proceed with this loan of course.

STEVE AUSTIN: I'm talking with Queensland National Party Senator Matt Canavan, this is 612 ABC Brisbane. The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, will also be there with you this morning. Now she's been at pains to point out that not one cent of Queensland money will be given to support or aid the Adani project. Why is their position so different from the Federal Government position if you're offering - if they need it - a potential $1 billion loan for the rail line?

MINISTER CANAVAN: Well look you'd have to ask the Queensland Government. All I'd say is it's not unusual for governments to build infrastructure of course. So that project I mentioned earlier, when the Thiess brothers built a rail line to Gladstone, they received assistance from the Menzies Government and the then-Queensland Government as well to build that infrastructure. Likewise in the Hunter Valley, the Menzies Government helped upgrade coal handling facilities at about the same time to export to Japan. It's still the case that in the Hunter Valley, the infrastructure is owned or leased by the

Australian Government from the New South Wales Government. Ten years ago, we've invested $150

million in that network to upgrade it. We also at the moment have plans to invest $150 million in the Townsville East Access Rail Corridor, which in part will help minerals export out of Townsville and we're looking at a multi-billion dollar inland rail network which will lead Melbourne up to Brisbane. And of course that route has diversified traffic on it, but one important, a very important part of the traffic is that coal from the Surat Basin. So it's not unusual for governments to build infrastructure, we've got to create jobs, we've got to help open and unlock new parts of our country and it's certainly a legitimate role for government.

STEVE AUSTIN: Matt Canavan, after the announcement today, which has sort of already been announced in my mind, are there any further hurdles, barriers or obstacles to the Carmichael coal mine, the biggest in Queensland going ahead? I read in today's Courier Mail that there is another legal challenge to the mine.

MINISTER CANAVAN: Look there are three outstanding legal challenges and one that might further be appealed so there are still legal court cases outstanding. That doesn't necessarily stop Adani from starting; they obviously will just take a risk that if one of those court cases were lost, they would risk the money they have spent up to that date. So that's obviously a fairly serious consideration for them. They have not made a final investment decision so it's a multi-billion project and obviously I've never had to make a multi-billion decision with my own money like that, but I presume you pause a little before you push the button. It's a serious, serious deal. So they've got to go through their own processes, I'm hopeful that they'll be positive. Obviously them being here this week and announcing these jobs is positive progress and the fact that they're still here after years of delays, after we took 1900 days to approve the project, they're still here, they're still in our state. That's very positive because this development will be good as I say, for Australia-India relations. It'll be good for the environment too because this coal in the Galilee is high quality.

STEVE AUSTIN: How can you say that? The environmental movement is very concerned about the effects of the carbon released from this coal burnt in India, in this case on the effects on the global climates and the link will be drawn today in Townsville of the effect on the Great Barrier Reef from the effect of climate change. It is - coal is one of the dirtiest generations, forms of generation, electricity or energy…

MINISTER CANAVAN: Well India will need coal-fired power and most estimates look like it will probably triple, or close to triple its coal-fired power production over the next couple of decades. It'll need to get its coal from somewhere; it'll either get it from Australia or go to Indonesia or South Africa. I met with the Indian Resources Minister a few weeks ago, and he was very clear about that. They'd like to get Australian coal but they have other options. And the facts are that Indonesian coal is around 4000 kilocalories per kilogram, ours is about 6000. In India, it's about 3500 kilocalories per kilogram. What that means is that for each tonne of coal burnt in a coal-fired power station, they're going to produce more carbon emissions for that low quality coal and that'll be worse for the environment. Our coal is high quality and therefore using it, rather than Indian coal or Indonesian coal, is good for the environment, it'll help bring down carbon emissions.

STEVE AUSTIN: I appreciate your time, Senator Canavan, thank you so much.

MINISTER CANAVAN: Thanks Steve, cheers mate.

STEVE AUSTIN: Senator Matthew Canavan, the Minister for Northern Australia.