Aussie government denies legal rights to oppose Adani Mining project
The debate swirls on over Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in the Galilee Basin.
The mining giant’s $16 billion project in Queensland has faced a swarm of legal action from environmental groups leading the charge of an anti-coal campaign.
But now these conservationist groups won’t be allowed to object these projects in court.
The latest developments came after a Queensland environmental group successfully opposed the mine in federal court that put a stop to the project in central Queensland, which is the largest coal project in Australia.
Now Mackay Conservation Group, Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Adani have each come to a consensus to endorse a plan to overturn the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act that allows green groups to mount legal challenges to environmental approvals.
Environmentalists have been able to legally challenge these types of projects since the Howard government introduced it into the act in 1999. Now the proposed changes will restrict legal challenges to be made only by citizens direct affected by a development, particularly land owners.
The decision is backed by the head of the Minerals Council Brendan Pearson, who predicts future investment opportunities will come with much more risk if projects are constantly delayed by a few protest groups.
Earlier this week, Business Review Australia reported Adani received preliminary approval from the Queensland government construct the expansion of Abbot Point terminal. It was the company’s third attempt to construct the new terminal after earlier plans fell through due to a change of state government, public concern and legal challenges.
Local environmental and community group describe the new developments as an “attack on democracy” that will restrict communities’ rights of making sure the nation’s environmental laws are being upheld. The way the law stands now, anyone “adversely affected” by a decision or an inability to make a decision legally has the right to challenge it.
That includes all Aussie citizens and residents who have acted “for protection or conservation of or research into the environment.”
However, Brandis believes the environmental activists aren’t only concerned about the planet, but also have political motivations behind their stance.
“The activists themselves have declared that is their objective: to use the courts not for the proper purpose of resolving a dispute between citizens, but for a collateral political purpose of bringing developments to a standstill, and sacrificing the jobs of tens of thousands of Australians in the process,” he said.
In addition, the National Farmers’ Federation recently questioned the timing of the proposed law change after Hunt was sent legal letters from farmer groups about the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark coalmine.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.