Friday, September 11, 2020

Adani launches own rail company to haul coal from Carmichael mine

The Adani group has launched its own rail business to haul coal to its Queensland port, while avoiding any public mention of the parent company or the controversial Carmichael mine.

It follows years of pressure from anti-coal activists that has prompted a string of potential Adani contractors to walk away from the mining giant, increasing the cost of doing business.

Adani's apparent move to go it alone on coal haulage will add $200 million to the upfront cost of its Queensland project, according to one energy analyst.

Bowen Rail Company (BRC) last month announced it was launching a haulage business to service Abbot Point export terminal.

Head of project delivery, David Wassell, said the company had bought its own "state-of-the-art locomotives and rollingstock" and would recruit about 50 workers.

Neither the media release nor the company website mention Adani or the Carmichael mine.

But company searches show BRC is owned by an Adani group company in India, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited, via two holding companies in Singapore.

The searches show the directors of BRC are all senior Adani staff in Australia.

They are Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj, Adani Enterprises infrastructure chief executive Trista Brohier, Adani Australia executive director Samir Vora and Adani Abbot Point Operations finance manager Damien Dederer.

Staff biographies on the BRC website exclude their work history with Adani.

Mr Wassell's biography states that, "prior to joining Bowen Rail Company, David held the position of national supply chain development manager at ASCIANO".

But his LinkedIn profile said between BRC and ASCIANO, he worked for three years as Adani Australia's manager of rail operations.

The LinkedIn profiles of two other BRC staff state they work at Adani Australia, the proponent of the Carmichael mine.

Adani Australia is owned by Indian-based Adani Enterprises Limited.

The Adani family owns almost 75 per cent of Adani Enterprises and just over 62 per cent of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone.

The ABC last year revealed Adani was snubbed by rail haulage operator, Genesee & Wyoming Australia.

The other two rail operators with capacity to haul Adani's 10 million tonnes of coal a year — Aurizon and Pacific National — have come under activist and shareholder pressure to follow suit.

A spokesman for Aurizon told the ABC it was, "not aware Adani has commenced any commercial process with regard to the tender of above-rail haulage contracts or indeed whether they intend to".

A Queensland Government document showed Adani had applied for accreditation as a rolling stock operator, which was needed to haul coal.

The national rail safety register showed Adani was still waiting for that accreditation.

A spokeswoman for Pacific National did not respond to questions from the ABC.

Adani's current plan hinges on building a 189km rail line from the mine to link to Aurizon's Central Queensland Coal Network running to Abbot Point.

It must reach a separate access agreement with Aurizon, which it reportedly has not yet done.

The Aurizon spokesman said it was legally required to consider all access requests but also to keep them confidential.

Adani had previously planned to build a 388km line to transport up to 30 mega tonnes a year of coal.

But it was forced to scale down its plans after the only contractor it considered capable of building the mine, Downer, walked away after being targeted by protesters.

In a Supreme Court application for an injunction and damages against activist Ben Pennings, a lawyer for Adani said scaling down to 10MT of coal a year, "resulted in an increase to the capital cost per tonne of coal of at least 15 per cent".

Protest pressure puts off contractors

Adani, in its application, said activist pressure has driven up its cost of engaging contractors on two fronts.

Adani has, "not always been able to engage what are known as the 'tier 1' companies or the 'industry leaders'", raising its risks and "substantially" increasing its insurance costs, its lawyer said in an affidavit.

Companies won't do business with Adani unless it enters "cost plus" contracts that force it to cover any "additional costs [that] may be incurred as a result of activist and protester action", he said.

Former Citibank analyst Tim Buckley, now at the pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said Adani's decision drastically increased its capital costs, which other rail operators would have wanted to avoid.

Mr Buckley said locomotives and coal wagons for the mine's first phase of 10MT a year would cost $200 million upfront.

This would rise to half a billion dollars in the mine's second phase of 27MT a year, he said.

The money it saved from not outsourcing would be offset by having to pay $50 million a year in interest, he said.

"Adani is now working to set up a business in direct competition with Aurizon's existing coal rail haulage, to help defray the costs of having to also establish new rail loco and wagon maintenance facilities, an expensive duplication of existing infrastructure," he said.

Pablo Brait, from environmental lobby group Market Forces, said BRC was, "another potential vehicle for the shifting of funds from Adani's India-based companies to its Australian coal project".

This meant Adani group investors who had previously ruled out financing the Australian coal project were now linked to it, and faced renewed pressure by environmental campaigners.

Market Forces has raised the issue with financiers linked to Adani Ports.

Adani Ports' biggest bondholder, Allianz, has previously ruled out financing or insuring new coal projects.

An Adani Australia spokeswoman said the Carmichael project was "on-track to produce first coal in 2021".

"Discussions that Adani undertakes with third parties on contractual matters are commercial in confidence," she said.


Koala bill causes NSW Government crisis as John Barilaro says Nationals will effectively leave Coalition

The NSW Government is in turmoil after Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro said his party would no longer support its legislation in Parliament.

In the latest explosive development in a Coalition spat about koala policy, Mr Barilaro announced all Nationals MPs would move to the cross bench.

However, he confirmed Nationals ministers would not surrender their portfolios.

Mr Barilaro said he had not spoken to Premier Gladys Berejiklian before announcing his decision and the ABC understands she has summoned him for a meeting this afternoon.

The Coalition agreement has been under pressure after Nationals MPs expressed anger over proposed planning regulations that would give farmers responsibility for managing koalas on their properties.

Mr Barilaro said his MPs had been liaising with Liberal colleagues about the policy since late last year and that if the Nationals did not take a stand, they "would become the laughing stock of regional and rural NSW".

He said Nationals MPs were "all concerned about where, after six months of hard work, putting forward in my mind sensible amendments to the SEPP [State Environmental Planning Policy], that we felt that we were now being betrayed".

Mr Barilaro said the NSW Nationals would no longer:

Support Government bills

Attend joint partyroom meetings

Attend Parliamentary leadership meetings

He said that would not change until the party's position on the koala SEPP is "considered", but also said the Nationals' seven ministers would not surrender their portfolios.

"I know there are Liberal members who would love to see that," Mr Barilaro said. "They would love to see me resign today, see members resign today but that would be giving in."

He said his MPs reserved the right to support Government legislation if it affected regional areas.

'We are not anti-koala'

Under the new regulations, more trees are classed as koala habitat which will restrict land clearing.

Mr Barilaro said the Nationals would on Tuesday introduce a repeal bill for the current SEPP.

"The National Party stands for a thriving koala population," he said. "We actually want to see the population double. We are not anti-koala.

"We think a SEPP like this is somehow a way to sanitise the regions, attack the property rights of landholders and do absolutely nothing to support koalas."

The Nationals have 13 Lower House MPs, while the Liberals have 35 and Labor 36.

In the Upper House, the Nationals have six, the Liberals have 11 and Labor has 14.

Yesterday, amid escalating tensions within Coalition ranks, Liberal MP Catherine Cusack described Mr Barilaro's behaviour as "bullying".

"The whole strategy is 100 per cent bullying," she said. She said the koala SEPP had been updated "at the behest of stakeholders that came from their own electorates" after an "exhaustive" process.

"I think it's fair to say Liberal members … are really stunned and bewildered by this extraordinary behaviour by the leader of the National Party, who's also the Deputy Premier who we support in Parliament to deliver stability and loyalty to the Premier, the Cabinet and the Government," she said.

Both houses of the NSW Parliament are due to resume sitting next week.

The Deputy Premier said the next two sitting weeks would be tough for the Liberal Party, and said the Government's agenda would be derailed. "But we need to flex a muscle and that's what we're doing today," he said.


Give HECS discount to university students willing to pick fruit, says NT Farmers Association

In a year where labour shortages are looming for a number of agricultural industries, NT Farmers chief executive Paul Burke, said it was time to start thinking of innovative ways to address an issue that had plagued farmers for years.

"So similar to how backpackers can work in regional Australia for 88 days to extend their visas, we think there's potential for uni students to get a wage and a discount off their HECS debt if they go and work in a region," he said.

"Uni students get a reasonable amount of holidays each year, but we need an incentive to bring our best and brightest into the regions during times when we need people to help with picking, packing and processing.

"We feel that incentive could be in the form of a reduced HECS debt."

The idea was raised in the Senate last week by NT Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, who passed a motion calling on the Morrison Government to "urgently act to come up with creative and innovative solutions to support farmers facing this seasonal worker crisis".

"NT Farmers CEO Paul Burke's suggestion of getting Year 12 students who go into gap year overseas, to now be encouraged to go on farms, is a good initiative," she said.

"I will explore the HECS options with my colleagues and am keen to see alternate ideas put forward."

Mr Burke said there was still a lot of work to be done, and the HECS idea was still in its infancy, but he felt its benefits could be wide-reaching.

"It would also give the agriculture industry some really good exposure to our future leaders and visa versa," he said.

"It will give them [uni students] a better understanding of agriculture. They'll have a better understanding of living regionally and the challenges and opportunities that presents."

Government looking at 'number of incentives'
While Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has not commented on the HECS discount idea, last week he said the Government was looking at "a number of different incentives" to lure students into regional work.

"We're going to see a lot of Year 12 students finish in a couple of months and they're not going to have the opportunity to go backpack around the world, there may be an opportunity to backpack around the country and make a quid while they're doing it," he said.

"Also there are university students who'll finish in a couple of months. There is an opportunity for them to go and work in agriculture and make a quid over the summer holidays and then go back with some dollars in their pocket and have a better time when they go back to uni".

In its roadmap to make Australian agriculture exceed $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030, the National Farmers Federation has also suggested establishing an "Ag Gap Year" program to get young Australians to try their hand at agriculture.

Paul Burke said the Ag Gap Year program would need to run in conjunction with other labour schemes, such as the seasonal worker program.

"It's about getting all of the tools in the toolbox, so we have a mobile, motivated and willing workforce to work in our industry," he said.


Racist broadcaster

The nation’s publicly-funded broadcaster has listed a job for a full-time producer of news and states the vacancy is “open only to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants”.

An Anglo female journalist aged in her 30s, who did not wish to be named but is looking for work, was shocked when she discovered she was unable to apply for the position due.

“The ABC producer job came up in my LinkedIn notifications and I immediately got excited because it’s exactly the type of role I’ve been looking for,” she said.

“I got such a shock when I realised I couldn’t actually apply, because I’m a white woman.”

“It’s so disheartening at a time when jobs in journalism are hard to find,” the woman said.

It comes after a recent study of television news and current affairs by Media Diversity Australia found presenters, commentators and reporters on Australian television were predominantly from an Anglo-Celtic background.

The Institute of Public Affairs of Australia’s director of communications Evan Mulholland said the race-specific advertisement was “outrageous”. “The ABC have decided to enforce divisive-identity politics into its hiring process,” he said.

“Rather than seeing mainstream Australia has a unified nation, the ABC is deliberately segmenting and dividing our community into categories. “It is no wonder the ABC removed the words “us” and “our values” in their editorial guidelines.”

The full-time position is based in Sydney and on the listing it said the “ABC’s a great place to work”.

“We provide various opportunities for Indigenous staff including attention the national Indigenous staff conferences, activities during NAIDOC week, regular networking events and mentoring support,” it said.

Mr Mulholland said Australians have “had a gutful of this divisive identity politics”.

An ABC spokesman said under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act the broadcaster is required to “develop a program to eliminate discrimination and promote equal opportunity including for women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”. [unequal = equal??]


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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