Australia shouldn’t be lecturing India about what kind of energy generation its poor villages should be allowed to use, a Turnbull government backbencher argues.
Chris Back, who has spent time working on the sub-continent, was responding to an announcement by Indian mining giant Adani to defer an investment decision for the controversial Carmichael coal mine in northern Queensland.
The decision followed factional wrangling inside the Queensland state government that delayed a cabinet discussion over royalty payments.
“It’s well and good for us in Australia, with our alternative sources of energy, to stand back and pontificate about the fact they shouldn’t be using electricity generated from coal,” Senator Chris Back told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
“People in the villages in India (should) have the opportunity to aspire to a better lifestyle and transition to a middle-class society.”
Resources Minister Matt Canavan labelled the Queensland government a “walking embarrassment”.
“This is not amateur hour, this is play school,” he said, urging federal Labor leader Bill Shorten to phone Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and sort the situation out urgently.
Greens senator Nick McKim was not impressed by Senator Canavan’s comments.
“There goes the minister for Adani,” he told reporters.
“Free coal, free water, free money, is there anything the government wouldn’t do for Adani?”
Adani’s decision appears to be an attempt to pressure the state government to follow through on a so-called “secret deal” to reduce the company’s royalties in the first seven years of the mine’s operation.
Under the deal, Adani would reportedly only pay $2 million in royalties annually, which could end up costing taxpayers $320 million in lost income.
Green MPs Adam Bandt cited a ReachTel poll that found only seven per cent of Australians were in favour of taxpayer support for coal mine projects.
Liberal MP Jane Prentice is disappointed with the Queensland government’s decision to delay a decision on royalties.
“They are all about waffle and delay tactics. Clearly, that’s a cost to any business,” she said.