Addressing the Townsville Enterprise business breakfast yesterday morning, Roche said the activists' successes in disrupting and delaying projects were coming hard and fast – and “it is time for everyone to step forward and lend a hand or Australia may as well close its doors to new business”
The address comes after the Commonwealth Bank pulled the plug on its financial advisory role with Indian giant Adani, which said that if the federal approval framework “is not further undermined by activists seeking to exploit legal loopholes … Adani would happily work with the bank in future”
The “loophole” has been described by the federal government’s environment department as a “technicality” around minister Greg Hunt not adequately considering documents outlining the protection for the endangered yakka skink and ornamental snake. This technicality is what led to the recent federal court victory for the Mackay Conservation Group over Adani.
Roche said activists’ campaign to disrupt and delay new projects is real, so the industry needs help from everyone with skin in the game to combat the campaign against the coal and gas industries.
“It’s not just resource companies that have much to lose – everyone from the local communities, local businesses to the government coffers, have something to lose if the activists are allowed to continue to hold projects to ransom,” he said.
“Communities like Townsville with unemployment of 8.7 per cent (and nearly 20 per cent youth unemployment) have to stand up and say to governments, state and federal, that enough is enough.”
He welcomed Federal Attorney-General George Brandis’ warning that legal loopholes were providing a “red carpet for vigilante litigation” and should be at the top of the list for parliament.
“Industry congratulates Mr Brandis for speaking out, especially for his Queensland constituents, but we need to remember it’s not just about fixing a loophole in federal legislation, it’s about both state and federal governments showing they genuinely support the resources industry and the jobs the sector can deliver,” Roche said.
“The laws are there to protect the environment and project approvals in Australia operate under ecological sustainable development rules, so it’s up to governments to properly balance the best environmental, social and economic outcomes.
“The legal loopholes that currently exist are being used to neuter the economic and social considerations.’
Roche said many ordinary citizens were genuinely shocked last week when they learned that activists had capitalised on a simple legal loophole to halt the $16 billion Carmichael coal project.
In response to the announcement last week, QRC began a petition (available here) to call on the support of all of those who support the gas and coal industries.
“Many hundreds of comments have flooded in from across Australia in support of the resources industry, calling for decisive action from our governments,” Roche said.
Roche said wat was no longer good enough for those relying on the industry to ignore the growing threat and it was time for all to stand shoulder to shoulder to defend an industry that supports and provides the modern fabric of our everyday lives.