Secret harbour may scuttle Abbot Point

Revelations of a “secret” publically funded tugboat harbour has led to calls for the Queensland Government to halt the development of Abbot Point.

The North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) has obtained documents which show plans for a tugboat harbour at Abbot Point which weren’t included in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by the Queensland Department of State Development.

NQCC campaigner Jeremy Tager said the current EIS was incomplete and had understated the likely impacts of the port development, an issue which required the attention of Federal environment minister Greg Hunt.

“Mr Hunt now needs to step in and immediately hit pause on the approvals process for Abbot Point, require a full and complete environmental assessment from the Queensland government, and investigate whether the Queensland government has engaged in false and misleading practice,” Tager said.

The documents show the harbour is to be publically funded to the tune of $90 million to $125 million.

“It appears that this project amounts to a backdoor subsidy for the likes of Adani,” Tager said.

“(A) taxpayer-funded largesse for a foreign coal billionaire at a time when Queensland is in a state of budget emergency, when the reef is in peril, and when the Queensland government is pretending that it cares about climate change.”

Adani chairman Gautam Adani recently met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to demand the introduction of a special law to prohibit activist groups from seeking judicial review of environmental approvals.

In a statement to the press Adani said the key concern for its projects in Queensland was certainty with approvals.

“Clearly, this proposition applies to certainty for finance. This isn't new – Adani has been saying this since earlier this year,” he said.

“Challenges to detailed, thorough, independent, science-based approvals that commence immediately after earlier challenges conclude on similar fact situations plainly aren't about a respect for process – they are about ideological opposition to mining projects more broadly.”

Challenges to approvals process for the Carmichael coal mine, as well as broader environmental concerns have left the Indian miner as yet unable to obtain financing for the $21.4 billion required for mine and infrastructure construction.

Several banks around the world have declared they would not become involved in funding the Carmichael mine, including NAB which made the declaration in September, and the Commonwealth Bank which concluded a financial advisory role to the miner in August.

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