Criticism over Adani coalmine ban letter stumps Chappell brothers

By Rekha Bhattacharjee

Australia’s legendary cricketing brothers Ian and Greg Chappell are facing severe criticism from political quarters and media for sermonising Indian mining tycoon Gautam Adani to abandon plans to open a mega coal mine in Australia’s north.

Ian and Greg Chappell had joined 89 other prominent Australians in signing a letter appealing Gautam Adani to abandon its controversial Queensland coal mine plan as the project would damage the “relationship”.

The Geoff Cousins led campaign has moved to India as he publicly confronted Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at Bhuj Airport in Guatam Adani’s home state Gujarat Friday.

While the delegation led by Cousins has failed, as expected, to solicit the desired response from Gautam Adani-led conglomerate, the letter co-signed by cricketing brothers’ duo has generated a bitter debate Down Under. The anti-coal mine campaign has wide support undoubtedly but a large number of politicians and commentators from across the spectrum have trashed the move as, basically, ill-advised.

“Styling themselves as ‘prominent Australians’, these ”˜elitist wankers’ as termed by an Australian MP – include investment bankers, CEOs of major corporations such as Telstra, pretentious literati, professional activists, and has-been celebrities,” Federal Member of Parliament for Dawson George Christensen said in a no-holds-barred attack on Chappell brothers and their co-signatories.

“We can’t all be sports stars, we can’t all be corporate executives or novel writers or investment bankers,” the Federal MP further said while implying that the elitists living in the “capital city bubbles” with access to “multi-million dollar savings accounts” had no idea how Adanis’ project would transform the lives of hundreds of thousand Australians suffering because of the resources sector downturn.

“Some people have to work hard just to make ends meet and these elitists are doing their utmost to ensure that that work is just not available for them,” George Christensen added to his colourful verbal assault.

Chappell brothers and Geoffery Cousins led letter campaign seems to have added fuel to the movement to bar two Indian conglomerates from owning and operating an Australian coal mine.

The impetus has come few months after an A$22-billion Carmichael coal and rail project secured Queensland government’s approval for a permanent 31-kilometre permanent rail line and a temporary 300-bed construction camp.

The rail section approved will form part of the 389 kilometre heavy haul railway line from the Adani-owned Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point port.

The prominent Australians’ letter campaign has come at a time when regional Queensland is reeling because of the high unemployment rates. According to media reports, Townsville’s unemployment rate has climbed to 10.6 per cent based on a 12-month average while the participation rate has steadily dropped.

For obvious reasons, the critics of the anti-Adani coal mine campaign view the opposition to Carmichael mega coal mine as a move which would deny employment to thousands.

They may not agree with the ”˜elitist wankers’ tag used by the above-named Australian lawmaker for the anti-Adani mine campaigners but a number of other well-known commentators have also come out openly in support of the proposed largest coal mine in Australia.

Some observers are seeing it as a move to sabotage the Queensland Labor government’s efforts to start the mega project at the earliest.

In an embarrassing move, businessman-turned-environmentalist Geoff Cousins and a leading Australian tourism operator Lindsay Simpson, publicly confronted Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at Bhuj Airport in Adani’s home state Gujarat Friday.

Feisty Queensland refused to be intimidated by a posse of campaigners who ambushed her while she was about to get into her car.

“All of you have jobs, and there are regional Queenslanders that are fighting for jobs (from coal mining). Ten thousand regional jobs,” she could be heard telling the campaigners in a video clip.

The Premier is accompanied by regional mayors and will also talk to Adani Group about a solar farm at Moranbah and Queensland agricultural exports.

It would be relevant to mention here that another Indian conglomerate led by GVK Reddy is facing a similar campaign as he plans to open a coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin in collaboration with one of the world’s richest women, Gina Rinehart.

Rekha Bhattacharjee can be contacted at

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