The Queensland premier is celebrating a “breakthrough” that could see her government’s two-year stand-off with mining giant Adani resolved within weeks.
Annastacia Palaszczuk says firm deadlines have been set for two state approvals needed for the India-based company’s Galilee Basin coal mine to proceed.
There should be a decision on Adani’s plan to protect an endangered finch by May 31, and on its groundwater management plan by June 13.
The premier reacted in earlier this week to federal Labor’s bruising defeat in regional Queensland electorates that voted that they want the jobs associated with the mine.
Palaszczuk reassured voters on May 22 that she represented a working class electorate and understood the needs and aspirations of families.
“At the end of the day, it’s about putting food on the table, making sure that your children can aspire to be whatever they want to be,” she said.
She told voters she was “really sorry that Labor let you down” and reaffirmed her commitment to jobs in the state.
Palaszczuk said she was fed up with delays in the approvals process and acknowledged regional Queenslanders were too.
On May 24, she hailed the deadlines as a breakthrough.
“I know initially people thought this was months, what I’m announcing today (is) it’s a matter of weeks,” Palaszczuk told reporters in Cairns on Friday.
On Thursday, Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow confirmed the mine’s commitment to local jobs.
“There’s no automation contemplated on our project; we’re not engaging with 457 visas, we’re talking about jobs for Queenslanders,” he said.
The Queensland Resources Council has said the mine will create 1,500 ongoing jobs and another 6750 during its construction.
The CSIRO will still need to sign off on the groundwater management plan should it get state approval.
The Stop Adani movement vowed to continue its war against the mine, saying the federal election result wasn’t a mandate for Queensland to fast-track the mine.
Despite the swing to the Coalition and conservative independents in Queensland, South Australian Greens Senator Hanson-Young said voters had punished Bill Shorten for “sitting on the fence” on the controversial mine proposal.
“Labor needed to be much clearer,” she told reporters on Sunday. “You can’t care about climate change and, on the other hand, be giving the tick of approval to a big new coal mine.
“I think Labor would have done much better if they had listened to the views of Australians that wanted real action on climate change.”
Adani has repeatedly accused the Queensland government of using delaying tactics like environmental approvals to block the mine.
It says the government has been reviewing various versions of its groundwater and finch management plans for more than two years.
The Morrison government has accused state and federal Labor of frustrating the project to appeal to environmentally-minded voters in urban electorates.
By Tracey Ferrier
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