Home >  Canavan >  Transcripts >  Interview with ABC local radio

Interview with ABC local radio

22 December 2016

Interviewer: 
Kim Landers

Subject: Adani Carmichael project

E&OE

KIM LANDERS:

The Minister for Resources and Northern Australia is Senator Matt Canavan and he joins me on the line. Minister good morning.

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Morning Kim.

KIM LANDERS:

Were you aware of this investigation into the Adani Group?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well before I get to that question Kim, can I just thank you for having me on your program because I have been very disappointed in the ABC’s coverage of this issue in the past week. Some of your reports have been nothing but fake news…

KIM LANDERS:

Well let me put some of these specific points to you then. Were you aware of this investigation by the intelligence arm of the Indian Finance Ministry into the Adani Group?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well as I said, before I get to that, in all of your reports this week you’ve had no views from people in North Queensland. So it’s very good to be joining you as Minister for Resources, but it’s even better to be joining you as a proud resident of North Queensland. I’m looking out at the Great Barrier Reef right now, I’m lucky enough to have a view from my house…

KIM LANDERS:

It sounds lovely, so if I can direct you back to my question then. Where you aware of the investigation?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

One of the days that makes you think ‘thank God you’re born in Queensland’.  But up here people need jobs. Later today I’ll go to work and the biggest issue will be jobs. And the biggest issue will be how do we get jobs, and Adani and this project will create jobs. But none of your listeners or viewers this week on the ABC would get that point of view…

KIM LANDERS:

Minister, may I ask you a question, were you aware of this investigation into the Adani Group?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well I’ve asked my Department for advice about it. As your story indicated, there are no findings at this stage on this investigation. It’s not unusual of course for tax authorities and others to investigate large companies. It’s happened in this country with many companies and has involved large settlements for the Australian Taxation Office. I don’t know the status of these allegations, apart from the fact that they remain allegations.

KIM LANDERS:

The Adani Group is seeking this one [billion] dollar taxpayer subsidised loan for the rail project part of the Carmichael development, and I understand that is being assessed by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which is an independent body. But how can that be considered when there are all these fraud investigations underway?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well I’ll take advice Kim from the independent skills-based Board we have established and I’m very confident in that Board. Unfortunately I think the reporting from the ABC has been particularly one-sided on this issue so…

KIM LANDERS:

So I’m trying to give you an opportunity now to answer some specific questions. For example, would that fund hold-off making any decision until the investigation in India is completed?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well that’s a matter for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. As I said, I’m very confident in the skills and experience we’ve got on the Board. They will make an assessment of these things and provide me advice.

KIM LANDERS:

The ultimate owner of the railway is a company that is based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. So how can a funding body like the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility do due diligence on a company like that?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well again, I have asked my Department on the reports that you had earlier this week in relation to that matter. They’ve advised me that there is nothing inconsistent with Adani’s company structure with Australian laws. I’m very confident that the Adani project, hopefully it will happen, it will deliver billions of dollars of taxes to both the Queensland and Australian Governments. Those taxes will go to fund things like the ABC and the good work you do do, and you do a lot of good work. But we’ve all got our blind spots Kim and unfortunately the ABC has a massive one here on this project. Particularly in relation to the people of North Queensland whose views you just don’t talk to.

KIM LANDERS:

So Minister just to clarify, your Department has done an examination of the corporate structure for the Adani Group and they’re quite comfortable that some of these entities are based in the Cayman Islands. They don’t see that as posing any problems, for example if Australia wants to ensure the loan is repaid?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well I think it’s a great thing that Adani have announced they’ll have their headquarters here in Australia, in Townsville, in a regional location. A lot of large companies in Australia don’t have their headquarters in regional areas but it’s great news for North Queensland that’ll be the case. It’s unfortunate that the ABC had an unhappy milestone recently where more than 50 per cent of your staff are based in Sydney, maybe that does colour your reporting on issues like this. I’m currently trying to fight that you’re taking another video journalist out of Rockhampton. There will be no video journalists from Maroochydore to Townsville. It will be fly-over country for the ABC…

KIM LANDERS:

Minister if I can direct you, I’m asking about, as you say, this very important project for Queensland. If I could ask you another question about it, there is a ‘fit and proper person’ test for environmental approvals under the Act. What consideration was given to the evidence that the ultimate parent company of the mine is facing these multiple allegations in India?

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Well both the Queensland and Australian Governments have looked at all of this extensively. Indeed I remember this coming up in questioning to the Department of Environment when the approvals were made, and I was comfortable with what the Department of Environment federally has looked at to make sure that those tests have been met. I’m very confident in the 36 strict conditions we’ve placed on it at a Federal Government level. They will do things that will improve the environment here in Central Queensland. They’ll protect an additional 31,000 hectares for the Black-Throated Finch. They will limit the draw-down on the springs in the area and also return water to the Great Artesian Basin, around 730 megalitres a year. So these are very strict conditions and this project will be a net environmental plus for the world. Not only will it protect the environment here in Central Queensland but it will also be using very high-quality coal which will displace coal that’s not as high-quality in India or Indonesia and that will be a good thing for the environment.

KIM LANDERS:

Alright Minister thank you very much for speaking with AM.

MINISTER CANAVAN:

Thanks Kim.