ACF President Geoff Cousins responds to ABC’s 4 Corners' story Digging into Adani

  • Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) President and senior businessman, Geoff Cousins, responds to Four Corners revelations about Adani.
  • Cousins travelled to India in March to meet communities affected by Adani’s operations.
  • ACF releases a comprehensive dossier of all preferential treatment by Australian, Queensland and local governments to Adani.

In response to the ABC’s 4 Corners story “Digging into Adani” ACF President, Geoff Cousins, said:

While Australians will be shocked by last night’s 4 Corners on Adani they shouldn’t be surprised. Adani is already facing a fine for breaching a Queensland pollution licence and it is now demanding a massive handout to help build a dirty new coal project.

“What is surprising is that Malcolm Turnbull and Annastacia Palaszczuk are so determined to give Adani extraordinary preferential treatment for a project that will threaten our Great Barrier Reef and fuel climate change. 

“On my trip to India earlier this year I met first-hand the communities affected by the pollution from Adani’s operations. It is astounding that our elected representatives are considering giving Adani a billion-dollar loan through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility giving the company’s appalling track record and the damage its dirty coal plans will do to Australia.

“The footprint of Adani’s dirty coal mine will damage everything it touches: it will pollute where they dig it up, it will pollute when they burn the coal and it’ll make the world a more dangerous place by fuelling global warming.

“The people of India are paying a price for Adani’s greed, but the price Australian’s will pay will be the loss of the Great Barrier Reef because of runaway climate change. Our government must stop the loan and not allow this project to go ahead.”

Download a full copy of A Fistful of Dollars: Adani’s Preferential Treatment by Federal, State and Local Australian Governments.



Since Adani first announced its intention to build Australia’s largest and most polluting coal mine, the company has received a staggering number of special deals and preferential treatment from all levels of government. Unprecedented measures have been taken to ensure that the project proceeds, including direct financial support in the form of loans and infrastructure, and relaxing environmental and regulatory approval conditions.

These decisions are deeply unpopular; a recent ReachTEL poll revealed that only 7% of Australians support public funding for the project.Not only will Adani’s mega-mine trash the Great Barrier Reef and hasten climate change, this report demonstrates that it is being encouraged to do so by all tiers of Australian government and both major political parties.

This media brief outlines the deep and ongoing government assistance being provided. As future political decisions about the project are made, they should be considered alongside the massive existing concessions that have already been gifted to Adani by all tiers of Australian government.

In summary, these include:

  1. Cutting a special deal with the Queensland Government for a massive reduction in royalty payments. Details of the royalty deal have been kept secret, but it is estimated that the subsidy will be worth between $370-725 million.

  2. Rushing through retrospective amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) after the Federal Court put Adani’s mine in doubt with the McGlade decision. In a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the amendments, Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network commented that, “we have serious concerns about the way this Bill was rushed into Federal Parliament and is being pushed to a vote, without adequate consultation”.

  3. Granting Adani a water licence that allows the company to take an unlimited volume of groundwater for up to 60 years. As sugar cane farmer Robert Quirk notes, farmers are suffering through droughts yet, “at the same time, we're saying to a major international company that it can have as much as it likes. Sounds like two sets of rules to me”.

  4. Strongly considering Adani for a $1 billion low-interest loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). Adani is currently in the final approval phase of seeking funding. NAIF remains the subject of a Senate Inquiry into its operations and governance, and serious concerns have been raised about its transparency, rejection of FOI requests, assessment processes and conflicts of interest.

  5. Publicly funded lobbying trips by Australian politicians to visit Adani in India and court their business. Premier Palaszczuk joined the mayors of six regional Queensland councils in India to meet with Adani Group chairman, Gautam Adani.

  6. Declaring the Adani coal mine and rail project as “Critical Infrastructure”. This centralised powers in the hands of the Queensland Coordinator-General, allowing him to accelerate and guide the approvals process for the project by excluding most normal processes for appeal and review, setting time-frames for decisions to be made and, in some circumstances, assessing and granting final approvals.

  7. Promises by Queensland regional councils to construct key infrastructure such as airports to service Adani’s FIFO workers. A bidding war has developed between Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville regional council over the best place to locate Adani’s regional FIFO hub.

  8. Issuing Adani’s Abbot Point Coal Terminal a Temporary Emissions Licence during Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Adani later breached this by releasing storm-water containing more than eight times the permitted concentration of coal. Newly released Queensland Government testing found significant coal levels at the Abbot Point discharge point to the Caley Valley Wetlands.

  9. Implementing weak approval conditions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). Despite touting the conditions as “some of the strictest environmental conditions in Australian history”, the EPBC Act approval conditions fail to protect biodiversity and the Great Barrier Reef, and continue a trend of reduced transparency and accountability for mining projects.

ACF Media Enquiries

Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email [email protected]