Furore over Adani’s finch plans being referred to experts


The David versus Goliath battle of the black-throated finch versus Indian mining giant Adani has taken a new turn with the Palaszczuk Government referring Adani’s finch protection plan to a panel of experts on threatened species, some of which are affiliated with the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

The Courier Mail has, in a bad case of the pot calling the kettle black, accused the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of lacking independence, as has Minister for Resources Senator Matthew Canavan. In an explosive feature, which has been reported to The Press Council, The Courier Mail alleges the Hub consists of a bunch of anti-coal radicals.

But Hub director professor Brendan Wintle, who is based at the University of Melbourne and was named in the article, says the Hub isn’t even involved in the review, and the report by The Courier Mail is totally false.

“The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is not involved in the Adani review,” Wintle said.

“The five other scientists named by the Courier-Mail are not involved in the review.”

“The Threatened Species Recovery Hub has nothing to do with coal research or activism.

Related article: The little bird that’s a big pain for Adani

“The Hub – which is a research organisation comprising researchers from 10 Australian universities and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy – is part of the Australian Government-funded National Environmental Science Program.”

Canavan has endorsed The Courier Mail’s article by sharing it on his social media page, while at the same time blasting the Labor party for referring Adani’s finch protection plan to “a bunch of greenies”.

“Green activists appear to have hijkacked the Qld Labor government, with the Labor party referring Adani’s finch protection plan to a bunch of greenies opposed to the Adani mine,” Canavan said in a social media post.

“How else could you explain this when: 1. The Fed govt has approved the Black throated finch environment plan while the State govt drags their heels. 2. Adani’s plan would increase the black throated finch’s habitat by 30,000ha and has been in the works for over 3 years, and 3. The state government recently waived through a mgt [sic] plan for the finch in regards to the Townsville Ring Road but has applied a different process for a coal mine. It is another reminder that the Labor party has deserted workers in Queensland’s coal industry.”

Related article: Adani to self fund Carmichael coal mine

In late 2018, it was reported that a 20,000ha section of the 30,000ha conservation area for the finch is the same site that is earmarked for the Clive Palmer-backed Alpha North coal mine.

Adani says it would not allow the conservation area to be compromised, but the Guardian reports it owns the land at surface level. Palmer’s Waratah Coal has exploration permits.

Adani also removed about 2000ha of habitat offsets for the finch on land earmarked for the neighbouring China Stone coal mine.

Adani’s CEO Lucas Dow said the company is ready to start operations. But, after several reviews by the Queensland Government of the finch management plan already, and the announcement of this latest review, it’s unclear how long the process could take.

There are still concerns relating to Adani’s groundwater proposal as well.

By Nichola Davies