In 2011, as reported by Graham Readfern at Crikey, Gina Rinehart
held a lunch at her house by the Swan River in Perth, at which West
Australian Premier Colin Barnett, WA environment minister Bill Marmion
and Chinese Ambassador Chen Yuming were in attendance to hear a
presentation on climate change from the “sceptic” Professor Ian Plimer.
Plimer must have done well because, according to disclosures made to the Australians Securities and Investments Commission, Professor Plimer was appointed to the boards of Gina’s companies Roy Hill Holdings and Queensland Coal Investments on January 25 2012.
Dinner guest Environment Minister Bill Marmion’s chief of staff is
Colin Edwardes, the husband of Cheryl Edwardes, who is the head of
“external affairs, government relations and approvals” at Hancock
Prospecting. Cheryl is also a former WA environment minister.
pointed out, Marmion was in the position of considering environmental
approvals for Hancock Prospecting projects — of which there were four
Let me just emphasise this. The WA environment minister’s chief of
staff’s wife is employed by Gina Rinehart to secure government approval
for her mining ventures.
And of course it doesn’t stop there.
Even considering the Coalition’s self-confessed penchant for doing
business at weddings at the taxpayers’ expense, three senior members of
the Coalition travelling all the way to India to a wedding of someone
they have never met, at the behest of someone who was not related to the
couple and whose own family says is an untrustworthy person motivated
by greed, should have rung alarm bells far greater than the thousands
the politicians subsequently claimed in “study” expenses for the jaunt.
At the time of inviting the politicians to the wedding, Mrs Rinehart
was about to clinch a $1 billion coal deal with the bride’s grandfather –
G.V. Krishna Reddy, the founder of GVK, one of India’s largest energy
and infrastructure companies.
Three months after the politicians joined Mrs Rinehart at the Indian
wedding the GVK conglomerate bought a majority stake in the
billionaire’s ”Alpha” coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin for $US1.26
When Barnaby Joyce decided to run against Tony Windsor for the seat
of New England, Gina Rinehart contributed $50,000 directly to his
campaign though some reports had the contribution at $700,000.
When Gina turned up to his election victory party, Barnaby said “Gina is a great friend
and I’m a good mate of Gina’s and she’s got an Australian company which
employs Australian people which pays tax in this nation and I’m so
proud,” he said. “We need lots of Gina Rineharts, not one, [because]
when we have a nation of lots of them we’re going to be a stronger
Barnaby Joyce hugged Gina Rinehart and told the waiting media he is proud to call her his “mate”.
“When we have someone like Gina, who is an Australian who actually is
so different from other companies who are actually not Australian, then
we should be proud of them [and] we shouldn’t kick them around,” he
“We should also be prepared to stand next to our mates because I’m a
person who believes the Australian mateship quality is alive and well.”
And Gina stands by her man.
In November she flew to Canberra in her private jet to watch
Barnaby’s inaugural speech in the House of Representatives which she
viewed from the gallery as a “special guest”.
Some of Mrs Rinehart’s closest political friends,
the Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Liberal Party senators Cory Bernardi and
Michaelia Cash, were invited to join the billionaire for an intimate
gathering on the night before.
But getting back to the Alpha coalmine and the Indian connection…
A panel of independent scientific experts had raised concerns about
groundwater, particularly the ability of Adani Group to model and
monitor groundwater flows. In approving the mine, minister Hunt said he
had accounted for the concerns
In April last year the Queensland Land Court,
following a challenge by communities, said the Alpha mine should only
proceed if the development meets further conditions on water use.
The court’s recommendations are not binding, and what happens next
now rests with the Queensland government. In a statement, Acting Premier
Jeff Seeney said: “We look forward to working with the project
proponents to deliver jobs and economic benefits to Queenslanders.”
In all likelihood, the project will therefore get the go-ahead, subject to new conditions.
In September, the Mackay Conservation Group said the rail company
Aurizon had walked away from an infrastructure plan it signed with GVK
in 2013 that would see it build a 300km railway from proposed mines in
the Galilee to port. The group said the deal was off the table after Aurizon failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
However it appears that, because the Queensland government has
declared the area over which the rail lines will be built a State
Development Area, it meant an EIS was no longer required to be submitted
at this stage.
Aurizon said it welcomed this change in process as a positive for the
“regulation of development of necessary infrastructure to service this
A spokesman from GVK also confirmed the company is firmly committed to finalising its JV proposal with Aurizon.
The deal means Aurizon will take a 51 per cent share in Hancock Coal
Infrastructure, which houses GVK Hancock’s rail and port projects.
The open-access infrastructure will service GVK Hancock’s Alpha,
Alpha West and Kevin’s Corner coal projects in the Galilee Basin.
“This proposed transaction will provide development certainty for the
rail and port projects and de-risks the Alpha Coal Project from a
logistics point of view,” the spokesman said.
“The transaction will also provide a pathway for sufficient equity
and debt funding for the rail and port projects to reach financial
In November, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announced that in
addition to the open-ended royalty holiday already on offer to the first
mover in the Galilee Basin, the state government was willing to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to fund the associated rail and port projects.
Mr Seeney said the funding for the project would come from the asset
leasing project the government will institute should it win the next
A spokesman for Clive Palmer said “On one hand this government wants
to sell assets and now they want to invest in helping one company.”
In December, GVK Hancock said it is focused on finalising approvals
for its Alpha coal project in the Galilee Basin before looking to
finance the $10 billion project. The comments came after French bank
Societe Generale suspended its finance partnership with the project. Citing the project’s lengthy delays, the bank said it no longer had involvement in a financing deal.
But GVK Hancock said it did not require the bank’s services at this point in the project timeline.
“The key focus for our projects at this point in time is finalising
our approvals and addressing litigious challenges to our attained
approvals. Once we have finalised approvals we will then execute coal
off-take agreements and work to finalise financing arrangements.”
Wall Street’s biggest banks are following the lead of UK and German financial institutions, and ruling out financing projects
threatening Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Three of the largest
investment banks in the world – Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan
Chase – have ruled out any investments in Queensland’s Abbot Point coal
port. The news follows Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and
Barclays publicly ruling out investments in the coal port, leaving the
Adani Group and GVK, who are seeking $26.5 billion to expand coal
exports, dwindling options for finance. Australia’s ‘big four’ banks are
now under pressure to join their US and EU counterparts.
Considering financiers, economists, and environmentalists are all
questioning the viability of the project, it was somewhat surprising
when, during Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to
Australia in November, Adani signed a MOU with the State Bank of India
(SBI) for a $1 billion loan to fund the project in Queensland’s Galilee
Indian opposition MP Derek O’Brien raised the issue in the upper house of India’s parliament.
“Our understanding is these banks refused the loan, so our serious
concern is why a $1 billion loan was given by SBI, knowing full well
that these five banks have refused,” he said.
India’s coal minister said in October he hoped to stop imports of
thermal coal within three years as domestic production stepped up.
“Two thirds of the produce of Carmichael will be imported back into
India, so one of them is not talking the truth, speaking the truth.
Because if India wants to reduce imports and two thirds of the capacity
from the Australian mine is going to be imported back into India, it
just doesn’t add up,” Mr O’Brien said.
Concerns have also been raised over prime minister Modi’s ties to Adani, the company behind the mine.
Over the past decade, Adani has prospered in the state of Gujurat, where Mr Modi was chief minister.
The company’s share price almost doubled as it became apparent Mr Modi would win the May election in a landslide.
Mr O’Brien said there were clear links between Mr Modi’s Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party and the Adani group.
“There is enough to suggest there is a cosy understanding and that is
why this loan was approved, not taking into consideration the facts
which were on the table,” Mr O’Brien said.
The company’s debt has risen substantially in recent years, much of it short-term debt.
Public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan said recovering the loan may not be easy.
“When they can only recover it from the assets of Adani, but you see
we don’t know. The total loans outstanding from the Adani group are in
billions of dollars to various banks,” Mr Bhushan said.
Indian tweeters bemoaned Modi’s support for the Carmichael mine,
calling it a repayment for billionaire friend, supporter and chairman of
the Adani Group Gautam Adani, who accompanied Modi on his trip to
Australia (and has apparently joined five of the PM’s six recent
It appears the coal barons have the governments caught in their web
and we could well end up with a very expensive taxpayer funded railway
to nowhere and the environmental consequences of dredging a port for a
product that is no longer economically or environmentally viable to