A letter to Premier Palaszczuk
Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk MP
PO Box 15185
Queensland 4002 22 April 2017
I sincerely hope that you are reading this letter and not one of your office staff. Or at least, I hope your staffer will pass it on for your personal attention since the subject matter is one of the utmost urgency and importance.
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you. Recently, I have watched you and Central Queensland mayors cavorting with Gautam Adani here and in India. During the past week, I have witnessed Malcolm Turnbull doing much the same thing, but in addition threatening to rewrite native title law in order to smooth away the last remaining obstacles to Adani’s rapacious plans for the Galilee Basin.
During the last state election, climate change was a woefully absent feature of your campaign agenda. I am sure – especially in the light of two consecutive bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef and an unusually intense Tropical Cyclone Debbie since – that you can no longer be in doubt that climate change mitigation is the greatest challenge facing Australian governments, both state and federal.
Australia has a considerable global responsibility – and a commitment from the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, 2015 – to meet its current carbon emissions reduction targets, which are not stringent enough in my opinion. This is certainly not the time to actively encourage the development of several large coal mines in this state. ‘Jobs, jobs and jobs’, I hear you prioritise frequently, but surely you are not parroting your predecessor that ‘Queensland is in the coal business’ when it comes to regional jobs. How regressive that sounds, when community renewable energy schemes throughout the state would generate thousands of jobs, in contrast to Adani’s incredible shrinking job total related to their Carmichael mine. I was in the Land Court two years ago when their economics expert witness admitted only 1460 would be created. Yet still we hear the fictitious figure of 10,000 touted by both politicians and Murdoch’s right-wing mouthpieces. Since 2015, that lower figure is highly likely to have been reduced further by increased automation within the extractive industries.
Many Australians have shared with me their hope that a politician – and I’m sure they don’t mind which colour – will have the courage of convictions based on advice from economic forecasters, climate scientists and biodiversity conservationists: all fossil fuel resources must stay in the ground; renewable energy options must be expedited; and a new economic model must replace the greed of the mining industry, banks and politicians driven by ambition. Reduced consumption, stable rather than increasing economic growth, and political integrity must be the new orders of the day.
Many of those same Australians have vowed to reject Labor at the next state election as a direct result of your support for Adani’s mine, given the company’s poor environmental and human rights record and its opaque dealings offshore. Much more important, of course, is your failure to address the implicit condoning of increased carbon emissions in order to be able to claim you’ve facilitated a few short-term jobs in a soon-to-be-stranded asset. Carbon emissions from the burning of coal in India cannot and must not be distanced from warming impacts in the Coral Sea.
Your government’s granting of Adani’s licence to take unlimited quantities of this state’s precious few water supplies to wash coal and dampen dust is bordering on the unconscionable. If you truly value jobs for regional Queenslanders, how can you threaten farmers’ livelihoods in an arid land? And not forgetting the almost 70,000 employed in tourism on the GBR.
The prospect of Labor not winning a further term in Queensland fills me with dismay. I know that your Environment Minister requires another term for key policies to be re-introduced (land clearing) and tabled for the first time (recycling; Private Protected Area reform). I do not want the LNP back in charge, or – an even worse prospect – One Nation earning itself control of a finely balanced Parliament.
More than party politics drives me to appeal to your better judgement, however. All of us have read the placards: ‘There is no Planet B’. I beg you to have courage, and declare that, following Debbie’s devastation, you have rethought your commitment to Galilee coal – and adding to the state’s 6000 CSG wells.
I appreciate the depth of your dedication to creating jobs for Queenslanders, but you must act for the benefit of all the people of this state, and that means prioritising their protection from the ravages of increasing climate chaos.
I was so pleased when you won power in 2015. Please don’t force me next time to vote where my heart does not truly lie. We must all act urgently to reduce emissions, starting with denying Adani the opportunity to further fry the planet. I do hope I can count on you, Premier.
With kind regards