Mon, Oct 09, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Nearly 70% of Australians oppose loan to Adani mine

The Guardian

Polling released yesterday showed Australians are mostly opposed to Adani Enterprises Ltd’s Carmichael coal mine and even more strongly opposed to it getting any government assistance.

The ReachTel poll, commissioned by the Australia Institute, also shows Australians think a loan to Adani from the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) would damage the country’s reputation — a fact that if “likely” to be true, would make the loan unlawful.

Asked simply whether they support or oppose the construction of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, about 50 percent more respondents were opposed to it than supported it.

Of the 1,421 respondents, 30 percent said they supported the mine, while 44 percent opposed it.

However, 26 percent of respondents to the survey conducted late last month said they were not sure.

Just 16 percent said they supported a taxpayer loan to assist construction of the mine, with 68 percent opposing it.

On Saturday, the Guardian reported on a larger poll conducted more recently, showing 55.6 percent opposed to the mine.

In the poll released yesterday, a clear majority of people — 58 percent — said they thought such a loan would damage the government’s reputation.

NAIF’s investment mandate says it “has a responsibility to act in a way that is not likely to cause damage to the Australian government’s reputation.”

Other agencies, such as the Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC), operate under almost identical conditions.

In July, Oliver Yates, who was the chief executive of the CEFC since its inception in 2012 until May, told the Guardian that the NAIF loan should never have progressed past the initial inspection by the NAIF board, since it did not pass the reputation test.

If the loan is likely to cause reputation damage, it would be unlawful.

Just more than half the respondents said they would support a new rule that prevented NAIF, or other similar agencies, supporting mining projects in Australia — while only 24 percent opposed such a rule.

However, contrary to the apparent wishes of the public, and in the face of private banks increasingly being unwilling to back coal mines, the government of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month overturned a rule that had been in place for several years stopping another government agency — the Export Finance and Insurance Corp — from loaning money to mining operations.

“This polling shows not just that taxpayer subsidies for Adani are deeply unpopular, but that more Australians oppose than support the mine going ahead, regardless of subsidies,” Australia Institute deputy director Ebony Bennett said.

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