Monday, 11 December 2017

Adani Group still cannot find financial backers for Galilee Basin mega coal mine


Indian multinational, the family-owned Adani Group, appears to have financed its Queensland mining venture with debt.

The book value of Adani Enterprises' Carmichael mine project was just under US$2.3bn by mid-2017. While latest report shows its debt has risen by almost US$400m to US$3.83bn.

This debt is further complicated by fraud allegations and investigations by the Indian Government.

The Guardian, 7 December 2017:

Adani’s operations in Australia appear to be hanging on by a thread, as activists prove effective at undermining the company’s chances of getting the finance it needs.

China seems to have ruled out funding for the mine, which means it’s not just Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine that is under threat, but also its existing Abbot Point coal terminal, which sits near Bowen, behind the Great Barrier Reef.

The campaign against the mine has been long. Environmentalists first tried to use Australia’s environmental laws to block it from going ahead, and then failing that, focused on pressuring financial institutions, first here, and then around the world.

The news that Beijing has left Adani out to dry comes as on-the-ground protests against construction of the mine pick up. Two Greens MPs, Jeremy Buckingham and Dawn Walker, have been arrested in Queensland for disrupting the company’s activities.

Is China’s move the end of the road for Adani’s mega coalmine in Australia, and will the Adani Group be left with billions of dollars in stranded assets?.........

While threats to reputational damage were not effective against Adani Group, since it is family-owned, the same was not true of Australian banks, which were targeted heavily by activists.
And one by one, each of the big four Australian banks ruled out financing the mine.

The first of the big four banks declared it would not lend to the project two years ago. NAB distanced itself from the mine in September 2015 and ANZ followed suit in December.
Then in April this year Westpac became the third of the big banks to rule out funding the project, drawing criticism from resources minister, Matthew Canavan, who said the bank had a conflict of interest because of its interest in other coal-producing regions, and called for a boycott of the bank.

Undeterred, and in the face of a large campaign by environmental groups, the Commonwealth bank followed suit in August this year.

By then Adani had seen the writing on the wall, and had shifted to seek finance from overseas institutions. It entered negotiations with the state-owned China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), which was thought to raise the potential of subsidised Chinese government loans.

The Australian government, which was seeking to give Adani its own subsidised loan, had supported the company’s efforts in China, according to a freedom of information request by the Australia Institute that reveals “several hundred pages” relating to formal representations to foreign financiers by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade…….

Turnbull Government's gift to welfare recipients this Christmas? More pain....


Nothing like receiving bad news in the lead up to the festive season......

News.com.au, 6 December 2017:

CONTROVERSIAL plans to drug test unemployed welfare recipients will be suspended indefinitely after the Senate refused to endorse the idea.

The Turnbull government had hoped to drug test 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients across three trial sites in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia from January.
But Social Services Minister Christian Porter indicated this morning provisions for the pilot will be stripped from an omnibus welfare bill and dealt with separately, so other measures can be signed off by Christmas.

“There are some difficulties that are going to be presented in getting that part of the bill through the Senate, but that does not mean that we are abandoning drug testing,” Mr Porter told Sky News.

“No one can be perfectly certain with these things but my best assessment is the rest of it, everything other than drug testing, will likely succeed through the Senate.”

Minister Porter stood by the trial last month but indicated it might be split from other reforms that were crucial to overhaul the “near to dysfunctional” welfare system.

“The bulk of that bill, which reforms the compliance system, is so critical to what we are trying to achieve that I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the bulk of that in terms of timeliness while we are still negotiating around drug testing,” Mr Porter said at a National Press Club speech in November.

One reform the government wants to pass as a priority is the new “three strike” demerit point system for welfare recipients that would mean those who continually skipped appointments or job interviews would eventually lose their payments.

Another will fold seven welfare payments into one to become the main payment for people of working age.

That is slated to begin in March 2020.

According to the Australian Council Of Social Services (ACOSS) this bill:

* Sets a dangerous precedent that allows governments to determine who is covered by social security rights and protections and who is not, without legislation;

* Would make it more difficult for people to access payments;

* Will make applicants wait much longer for first payments and, in certain cases this could be as long as 26 weeks;

* Cuts payments to people seeking work by removing back-pay provisions;

* Cuts $478m from social security payments over the forward estimates, with most losses incurred by people who are unemployed and single parents;

* Rolls Wife and Widow B pensions & allowances (including the Bereavement Allowance) into the Jobseeker Payment which will leave pension recipients worse off unless they are transferred to another pension;

* Ensures that the Jobseeker Payment keeps recipients living well below the poverty line so that they will be unable to meet essential costs; and

* The new mutual obligation requirements and breach schedule indicates that annually an est. 80,000 people will lose at least one week’s payment and an unknown number up to four week’s payment.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Tweet To Remind Us All


"Lucifer" Dutton takes up role as Australian Minister for Home Affairs on Sunday 17 December 2017


The Saturday Paper, 6 December 2017:

Attorney-General George Brandis has confirmed immigration minister Peter Dutton will take up the new home affairs “super ministry” on December 17. The home affairs portfolio, announced in July, will give Dutton sweeping powers over Australia’s intelligence, security and border control apparatuses, and has been criticised for centralising too much authority under one figure and stripping the attorney-general position of its ability to hold security agencies accountable. Brandis denied rumours he will retire from politics before the December reshuffle, saying he intended to stay put. Last week a Canberra Times investigation found a web user with an IP address connected to the Australian Taxation Office edited Dutton’s Wikipedia page, briefly changing his middle name to “Lucifer”.

The Home Affairs super portfolio will merge Australia’s immigration, border protection, law enforcement and domestic security agencies in a single portfolio, including spy agency ASIO, the Federal Police, Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission - under the control of millionaire former Queensland police officer and Liberal National Party MP for Dickson Peter Dutton, with allegedly increased oversight by Australian Attorney-General and Liberal Senator for Queensland George Brandis.

A political pairing from Queensland which may yet turn out to be the stuff of nightmares, given these two gentlmen's attitudes to human rights and civil liberties.

Mr. Huang Xiangmo becomes terse


After allegedly giving a number of large political donations to the Liberal, National and Labor parties, wealthy Chinese national and former chairman of the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, Mr. Xiangmo of Yuhu Group Australia, grows tired of the media attention ………..

Herald Sun via @johhnybridge2

Mr. Xiangmo pictured with some of his many political acquaintances

Photographs sourced from Google Images

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Political Cartoon of the Week


Jack Ziegler, Cartoonist

Quotes of the Week


"We truly hadn't ever considered that people could just be really evil." [Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince in Gizmodo on 1 December 2017, on why this service provider company protects virulent neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer]

"Some families, some communities, some cultures breed strife. Governments cannot always fix it. Compulsory contraception for those on benefits would help crack intergenerational reproduction of strife." [NewsCorp journalist and newly appointed  head of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Gary Johns, in BuzzFeed, 19 May 2015]