Environmental Justice Australia lawyers have written to the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) – the body that is considering giving a $1 billion loan for a coal-carting rail line to service Adani’s Carmichael mine – seeking answers about board members’ conflict of interests.

The letter, on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation, raises concerns about:

• Ms Karla Way-McPhail, a NAIF board member who is also the CEO of Undamine and Coal Train Australia – companies that profit by hiring labour and machinery to coal mining operations

• Ms Annabelle Chaplain, a director of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), which advises NAIF, is an independent non-executive director of Downer EDI, a company that has an existing commercial relationship with Adani Enterprises, the ultimate proponent of the mine

In July 2016 Downer EDI signed a Technical Services Agreement with Adani Enterprises Ltd for the provision of mine planning, design and project execution services for Adani coal mines in India.

“While it is not uncommon for directors to hold more than one directorship, if a perceived or actual conflict of interests arises, directors must act to avoid conflict,” said EJA lawyer David Barnden.

“Ms Karla Way-McPhail is on the NAIF board and is the CEO of two companies involved in the Queensland coal industry.

“Ms Annabelle Chaplain, an EFIC Board member who advises NAIF, is also a non-executive director of Downer EDI, a company with a significant existing commercial relationship with Adani.

“In our view Ms Way-McPhail and Ms Chaplain each have material personal interests that could give rise to a conflict of interests, making it inappropriate for them to be involved in the consideration of a huge public subsidy to a coal-rail project.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dirty Deeds report last week exposed links between the fossil fuel industry, the government, NAIF and EFIC.

“EFIC has a track record of investing in large fossil fuel projects, backing fossil fuels over renewables at a rate of more than 100:1 over the past 11 years,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“NAIF’s board is skewed toward the mining industry and lacks experience with industries such as communications and renewable energy which are critical to the development of Northern Australia.

“Australians want public money to support industries that will create a positive future for Northern Australia – like renewable energy and tourism – not destructive, reef-wrecking coal mines,” she said.

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