Australians opposed to Adani coal mine and $1 billion government loan: poll

Australians opposed to Adani coal mine and $1 billion government loan: poll


Narayan Van de Graaf from Elizabeth Bay woke up at 3am inspired to make a banner and join over 1000 people at 9am on Bondi Beach, to protest against the Adani coal project on Saturday 7th of October 2017. Photograph by Katherine Griffiths

Narayan Van de Graaf from Elizabeth Bay woke up at 3am inspired to make a banner and join over 1000 people at 9am on Bondi Beach, to protest against the Adani coal project on Saturday 7th of October 2017. Photograph by Katherine Griffiths

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The poll found 68 per cent of Australians opposed a possible $1 billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund.

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Thousands of activists formed human billboards to "stop Adani" on Saturday as a new poll found the massive coal mine - and a proposed $1 billion government-funded loan - was lagging in public support.

As Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk prepares for an unpredictable state election, opposition to the Carmichael mine has grown alongside concerns about the Indian giant's business practices.

Research commissioned by the left-leaning Australia Institute found 30 per cent of Australians supported Adani's plans for the mine, which is backed by both sides of politics at the federal and state levels.

Conversely, 44 per cent of voters opposed the project, including 49 per cent of Labor voters and 29 per cent of Coalition voters, while 26 per cent of respondents said they were not sure or did not know.

The online survey of 1421 Australians, conducted by Research Now, comes as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund prepares to reveal the first project to receive a concessional loan from its $5 billion kitty.

The poll found 68 per cent of voters opposed the NAIF granting a taxpayer-funded loan to support the Adani mine, including a majority of Coalition, Labor, Greens and One Nation supporters.

Forty per cent were "strongly" opposed to the loan. Just 16 per cent of respondents backed the loan, and only 5 per cent said they "strongly" supported it. A further 16 per cent were unsure.

The Survey used a representative sample across age, gender and state. It was taken in late September, before the ABC's Four Corners revealed Adani had hitherto unknown ties to the British Virgin Islands tax haven, as well as allegations of corruption, bribery and environmentally destructive behaviour.

Australian Institute deputy director Ebony Bennett said the poll results showed the major political parties were out of step with public attitudes on Adani.

"There are a lot of environmental concerns, there are a lot of questions around Adani's corporate tax structure," she told Fairfax Media. "It is a hugely controversial project and the public has every reason to be sceptical of the wisdom of putting taxpayer dollars towards it."

Adani and the Queensland government argue the mine will be a boon for jobs in regional Queensland. This week the company announced it would base more than 1000 fly-in, fly-out workers in both Townsville and Rockhampton.

But activists on Saturday staged a national "day of action" against the mine, gathering at 45 locations across Australia to form human billboards saying "Stop Adani". Organisers said about 1500 people attended a protest on Sydney's Bondi Beach. Other sizeable protests took place in Canberra, Brisbane, Port Douglas, Melbourne. There were also significant demonstrations at Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour.

A separate ReachTel poll released Saturday also found high levels of opposition to both the mine and the federal government loan. After being told there were concerns about Adani's corporate track record and the environmental impact of the mine, 55.5 per cent of voters said they opposed the project, and only 26.1 per cent said they supported it, according to the ReachTel poll of 2194 Australians. The poll was taken on October 4 following the Four Corners expose.

The NAIF is expected to announce its first funding decisions in coming weeks, possibly including the Adani loan. Derided as a slush fund by critics, the NAIF was a creation of the 2015 Abbott budget and is yet to fund a single project despite having paid its board members hundreds of thousands of dollars in the interim.

The Minister for Northern Australia can veto any funding decision by the NAIF. That portfolio is currently held by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce following the resignation of Matthew Canavan over his dual citizenship status.

Launching the Greens' state election campaign in Queensland on Saturday, federal leader Richard Di Natale used the Adani issue to slam the "revolving door" between lobbyists and both sides of politics in the Sunshine State.

A "cosy agreement" on royalties between Adani and the state Labor government showed "right now, democracy can be bought in Queensland", Senator Di Natale said.

The story Australians opposed to Adani coal mine and $1 billion government loan: poll first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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