Adani tells you everything you need to know about politics in Australia.
The decisions by the Queensland and Federal Governments to give Adani various approvals to effectively mine a massive amount of coal is irrational. It makes no sense economically. It makes no sense environmentally.
But to those involved it makes perfect political sense. Jobs, jobs and more jobs are their mantra. It is a lie to win working class support. Given the big swings against Labor in the region and to the conservatives and reactionaries, it is working.
Despite initial talk of 10,000 jobs, on oath Adani admitted that in the construction stage there would be 1440 or so jobs. And once construction is finished? It is not clear what the number of ongoing jobs Adani will create is.
Recently, Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie suggested 100. So destroying land on the Carmichael mine is going to create only 100 jobs at the site. How many tourist jobs will it destroy? As many, if not more, is my guess. Others have suggested the figure is about 800, although I suspect the figures from McKenzie are likely to be close to the truth. Briefings, followed by unguarded moments and all that, eh?
Adani was never about jobs. Mining is one of the most mechanised industries in the world. In Australia for example mining contributes about 8.5% to GDP, but employs only 2% of the workforce (or around 220,000 jobs), As the industry automates even further, that employment figure will fall even lower.
Adani is a good example. The estimated investment cost is $16 bn. All that for 100 ongoing jobs, or to be optimistic 800 ongoing jobs. Plus the destruction of the Galilee Basin, and associated land and waterways. How much is the Great Barrier Reef worth anyway? See it before it dies.
Surely that $16 bn would be better invested in sun, wind and other renewable energy plus batteries? Not if you are, like the Coalition Government, (now joined by the Queensland Labor government) married to coal. The decision to support Adani was political. This is a government of climate change deniers and climate change sceptics. Its first rule is to support big capital.
The ALP knew before the election it risked losing workers’ votes in Queensland by not being openly for the mine. It also knew it could lose votes in suburban seats if it openly supported Adani. Hence its equivocation, its nudge nudge, yes, after legal requirements are met, to the mine.
The other side of this means the Government had to lie to workers about the things that we hold dear – jobs, and living costs. And lie they did. Vague suggestions of thousands of jobs, plus a ‘commitment’ to lower power prices should be seen for what they are – bullshit of the highest order. All designed to swing workers behind the lie that is Adani.
It worked. Some workers, especially in the mining regions, fell for the lies. Our response should not be to abuse them but to develop policies that do address their and our jobs and living cost concerns. Renewable energy offers that.
We can, and we must, make the arguments that our future has to be totally renewable. Such a shift will take a lot of money – about $370 bn over ten years under the BZE plan for example – but it will help save our planet.
That altruism won’t win votes. But a comparison of jobs in reliable energy construction and then operation would suggest a much larger number of jobs in the renewable energy sector than the mining sector. Much more. And prices will fall as a result. If they do not then impose price controls on the energy suppliers.
These are arguments that must be made. The ALP will not make them. It is part of the coal bubble. The Government will not make them. It will be up to us and our unions to make the obvious point – an injury to our one earth is an injury to all workers. The destruction of our planet is the destruction of the working class.