Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Adani, jobs, and the environment

Over this past weekend, the Queensland government announced that Mr Adani has received approval for his Galilee Basin coal leases.  Needless to say, this move has enraged most environmentalists and a good section of the ALP itself. 

The rationale for this reminds me of an old Wizard of Id cartoon.  The king is on the throne, and the lackey runs in and says: "Sire, the monsters of the moat are starving!"

A short while later, the Duke comes in and announces "Sire!  The peasants are revolting!" 

The king says, "I think I've found a solution to both problems." 

Now picture this.  There is a serious shortage of work in north and central Queensland.  The Adani mines and the infrastructure surrounding these will require a massive amount of work and capital to realise their potential.  This solves the problems, yes?  Mine goes ahead, unemployment drops significantly in NQ.  Problem solved. 


This is old thinking.  There is the over-arching issue of global warming which is a solidly proven fact.  Further, coal is the most culpable culprit in the impending environmental disaster.  So why in heaven are we allowing new thermal coal mines to proceed? 

Why not, instead, look at what other sorts of work could be done to alleviate unemployment in regional Queensland?  Infrastructure work comes to mind.  Commentators, economists, political pundits and people in regional communities are all concerned about the lack of new infrastructure.  Queensland, in particular, is a big state with a dispersed population that cries out for work to be done in these areas.  First, how about doubling the rail line to Cairns?  Second, getting the Bruce Highway to at least late 20th century standard and doubling that?  Third, setting up programs for reforestation and sustainable agriculture.  Fourth, work with the NBN and telcos to boost bandwidth to regional hubs.  Fifth, using State bonds and other fund raising implements to raise the capital to start these projects.  These are just for starters

And as to the protection of our Great Barrier Reef, which is not only a Queensland, or an Australian treasure -- it is a world treasure.  To do anything further that damages this precious resource might be considered economic vandalism, which will do the State's reputation no good whatsoever.  This in turn will reduce interest in investment and a reduction in tourism -- a powerful industry in the Reef area.  

There is the matter of timing, too.  Can we think longer than a term of government?  Can we look at how, in the first instance, we can attract businesses to regional areas?  Can we offer incentives to business and venture capitalists to help develop -- in the most environmentally sustainable way -- regional cities and towns? 

Oh, the list goes on and on.  This piece is a sort of "cri de coeur" for our policy makers and political parties to look beyond coal and mines.  We are blessed with so much, and it would be a tragedy indeed if we were to lose the lot due to short term and half blind thinking leading  to short term and half blind decisions.   


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