Australian Environment Minister Melissa Price. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Australian Environment Minister Melissa Price. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Senator’s blunt warning for Minister on Adani

FIRED-UP Federal Senator James McGrath has sensationally warned Environment Minister Melissa Price that he will publicly call for her resignation if she fails to treat the Adani project fairly.

Environment Minister Melissa Price is under pressure from colleagues. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Environment Minister Melissa Price is under pressure from colleagues. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

In terse and blunt correspondence, Senator McGrath told the embattled Minister he would issue a press release calling for her ministerial scalp if Queensland jobs were thrown under the bus.

It comes as Barnaby Joyce "looked like he wanted to punch" Gold Coast MP Stuart Robert in the House of Representatives on Thursday over a back-and-forward comments about the Galilee Basin. Sources said Mr Joyce was ropeable and believed Mr Robert's southern Liberal mates were trying to stop mining jobs in central Queensland.

The internal brawl about Adani is likely to have been one factor in Scott Morrison's decision to delay calling an election as agitated Queenslanders demand a resolution to the issue.

 

Senator James McGrath told the embattled Environment Minister he would issue a press release calling for her ministerial scalp if Queensland jobs were thrown under the bus.
Senator James McGrath told the embattled Environment Minister he would issue a press release calling for her ministerial scalp if Queensland jobs were thrown under the bus.

The Environment Department has provided Ms Price with its report on Adani's groundwater management plan but she has yet to tick it off.

There is a view Ms Price is deliberately delaying the project because many Victorians do not want the project to go ahead.

Red-hot anger spilt over during Budget week, with Senator McGrath, Resources Minister Matt Canavan and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton seeking clarification.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton sought clarification. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images
Immigration minister Peter Dutton sought clarification. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

Ms Price's office would not comment specifically on Senator McGrath's correspondence.

Asked about the project yesterday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he could not say if Adani would get the go ahead before the election. In Queensland, the black-throated finch could cause it to be delayed, however, many in the LNP want to fight an election on the fact Labor is standing in the way of Queensland jobs.

"The major approvals were already been given some years ago with 180 rigorous environmental conditions attached, both state and federal, now it's going through the process of sub-approvals and the Minister is following the normal statutory process,'' Mr Frydenberg told ABC's Insiders program yesterday.

"From our perspective we support resources projects and we support them going through the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) process.

Minister for Resources Matt Canavan has long been spruiking the Adani mine. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Minister for Resources Matt Canavan has long been spruiking the Adani mine. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

"On the other side of politics you've got (Labor's) Tony Burke saying I'm not going to prejudge a decision, you've got (Labor's) Mark Butler saying it's not in the national interest for Adani to go ahead and you've got (Labor's) Chris Bowen saying sovereign risk would be raised if it was cancelled.

"So Labor's all a mess. What we will not do, is what Bill Shorten is saying, which is one message to the baristas of Batman and another to the miners of Mackay."

Asked if it would be signed off by the election, Mr Frydenberg said, "that's in the hands of the Minister, who's talking to the scientists".

The Environment Department has briefed Ms Price in relation to Adani's groundwater monitoring and management plan. It provided a recommendation to Ms Price on Monday last week on how the plan should be dealt with now.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he could not say if Adani would get the go ahead before the election. Picture: AAP Image/Sam Mooy
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he could not say if Adani would get the go ahead before the election. Picture: AAP Image/Sam Mooy

It had been working through a number of post-approval conditions and had commissioned Geoscience and CSIRO to review an earlier version of Adani's plans. Under the EPBC Act, Ms Price does not have to make a decision on the Department's recommendation by a certain date. It means it can be deferred until the Government is in caretaker mode or until after the election.

But if Ms Price does make a decision during caretaker mode, the Government will need to consult with Labor because it is considered a controversial issue.