Prime Minister Tony Abbott has put his support behind Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, which was overturned by the Federal Court last week.
The Indian mining giant’s central Queensland mine was set aside after it was found Environmental Minister Greg Hunt did not properly consider advice about two vulnerable species, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.
Mr Abbott said projects like the $16b Adani mine, which was expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the country, are too important to be hindered by red tape.
“If we get to the stage where the rules are such that projects like this can be endlessly frustrated, that’s dangerous for our country and it’s tragic for the wider world,” he said.
“So we’ve got to get these projects right, it’s absolutely vital we get these projects right. But once they are fully complying with high environmental standards, let them go ahead.
“While it’s absolutely true that we want the highest environmental standards to apply to projects in Australia, and while it’s absolutely true that people have a right to go to court, this is a $21 billion investment, it will create 10,000 jobs in Queensland and elsewhere in our country.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten said he didn’t think it was right that the PM was “second-guessing our judges”.
“Mr Abbott seems to be creating a new test for environmental protection in this country that near enough is good enough – well, it’s not,” Mr Shorten said.
The Minerals Council of Australia have also slammed the decision about the approval of the coal mine, saying it was the result of “environmental groups exploiting a minor legal loophole”.
“The delay to the project is regrettable and will damage Australia’s reputation as a destination for international investment,” a statement from the Council said.
“The delay to the project will be temporary. Claims by opponents of the mine that the project has been stopped permanently are arrant nonsense.
“The project will bring thousands of jobs to Queensland’s Galilee Basin, provide a needed boost to the Queensland economy and provide light and power to tens of millions of Indian citizens who currently do not have access to electricity.
“The Federal Parliament should move quickly to close the loophole which provides no additional environmental protections but simply provides an opportunity for radical environmental groups to lodge vexatious legal actions designed to inflict costly delays on the project.”