Confirmation that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the Adani rail project being considered by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

by empathiser

 

Yesterday, in response to questions on notice arising from the August 11 hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Governance and Operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), The Australia Institute and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) provided detailed answers relating to their knowledge about the NAIF. A series of answers provided by Senator Canavan’s Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio to questions on notice was referenced and quotes provided that show that on two occasions, the first in February and the second in May, Senator Canavan informed senators of the name of the specific project that Adani and the NAIF were considering, the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR).

Senator Canavan not only mentioned the name of the project, but he also contradicted earlier statements that naming the project would breach “commercial in confidence” provisions with the NAIF. No submissions to the NAIF inquiry referenced Senator Canavan’s answers to questions on notice that named the Adani project. Nobody at the hearing mentioned the senator’s answers even though at least two of the NGO submissions mentioned NGBR. The transcript from the NAIF inquiry shows that both Tom Swann representing The Australia Institute and David Barnden representing Environmental Justice Australia discussed the Renee Viellaris exclusive from December 2, 2016 which broke the news of the Adani-NAIF loan and is cited in TAI’s ‘Don’t be so Naif’ in reference to working assumptions that NGBR is the specific rail corridor under consideration.

The TAI and DIIS responses are downloadable here:

http://www.aph.gov.au/sitecore/content/Home/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/NAIF/Additional_Documents

The Australia Institute provided a response to questions on notice to the Senate Economics Committee dated September 5, 2017 which includes references and quotes from two key documents from Senator Canavan’s portfolio QoN numbers SI.36 and AI.70.

Quote:

ANSWER

During Senate Estimates on 20 October 2016, the Office of Northern Australia took a

question on notice on behalf of NAIF.

The Answer was submitted on 16 February 2017 by the Office of Northern Australia:

“Adani is one of the 13 projects. Adani has expressed interest in accessing the NAIF

for purposes of supporting the North Galilee Basin Rail Project”.9

Reference:

SI-36 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Adani 16/02/2017

9 http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup16

17/Industry/index

Quote:

22 May Office of Northern Australia advises Senate Estimates:

“there has been no public formal announcement from Government.

The NAIF had informed the Minister via email that Adani had

consented to disclose the following: ‘Adani has expressed interest in

accessing the NAIF facility, for the purposes of supporting the North

Galilee Basin Railway Project.’”xliii

The ONA does not say what date this information was provided.

Reference:

AI-70 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia NAIF interaction with Minister’s office 23/05/2017

http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/economics_ctte/estimates/add_1617/Industry/answers/AI-70_Waters.pdf

I have communicated with Tom Swann via Twitter and asked “Who knew about SI.36 when they were at the senate NAIF inquiry?”, he confirmed that at the time of the August 11 hearing he was aware of SI.36 saying “I did, but couldn’t recall date\ number etc. Who would’ve thought Committee demand evidence Adani’s had applied?!”.

In fact Tom Swann knew of the existence of SI.36 in early July. His report titled Palaszczuk’s Promise’ which makes no mention of the NGBR and has a creation date of July 10, 2017 references SI.36 in relation to a February 2016 letter:

Quote:

On 18 February 2016 the Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt wrote to the federal government requesting that it consider a subsidised loan of nearly $1 billion to Adani for its rail line, via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).4

Reference:

SI-36 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Adani 16/02/2017

4 http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/economics_ctte/estimates/sup_1617/Industry/answers/SI-36_Waters.pdf

Reference:

Palaszczuk’s Promise’

http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/Swann%202017%20Palaszcuk%20subsidies%20for%20Adani.pdf

 

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science provided written responses to questions on notice to the Senate Economics Committee in a document created September 7, 2017 which includes a clarification citing the same key document referenced by TAI, QoN number SI.36.

Quote:

Senator Hume: We don’t even know whether Adani is approved or part of the due diligence process or short-listed (transcript page 16).

Clarification: Question No. SI-36, SI-140, Supplementary Budget Estimates, 20 October 2016, confirmed that the Adani Group has expressed an interest in the NAIF.

 

QoN SI.36 was created by Senator Canavan’s portfolio and published on February 20 in response to questions placed on notice at the Senate Estimates, October 20, 2016. QoN SI.33, SI.35, and SI. 39 which were all created by the senator’s portfolio and published on or shortly after December 16, 2016 argue that “commercial-in-confidence” considerations include details like the name, proponent and location of NAIF projects. It’s clear that in naming the project in SI.36 and AI.70 the senator has contradicted himself.

I will go through each question on notice and explain how naming the project automatically gives you the location and proponent.

SI.33

Quote:

In accordance with Clause 17(2) of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Investment Mandate Direction 2016, within 30 business days of an Investment Decision, the NAIF must publish information regarding all transactions on its website, subject to commercial confidentiality, including:

a) the name of the Project Proponent;

b) the goods/services involved;

c) the location;

d) the type of Financing Mechanism; and

e) the amount of the Financing Mechanism.

Reference:

SI-33 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia NAIF Proposals 15/12/2016

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup1617/Industry/index

SI. 35

Quote:

ANSWER

I can confirm that discussions have occurred between Adani Australia representatives and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in respect of their rail project in the North Galilee Basin. These discussions are commercial-in-confidence and we are unable to provide any further information.

Reference:

SI-35 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Meetings between NAIF and Adani 16/12/2016

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup1617/Industry/index

SI. 39

This answer is emphatic about not naming the project or proponent.

Quote:

The location and name of the projects are commercial-in-confidence.

One formal proposal has been submitted and this has progressed to due diligence phase. The location and name of the project is commercial-in-confidence.

In accordance with Clause 17(2) of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Investment Mandate Direction 2016 (Investment Mandate) within 30 business days of an Investment Decision, the NAIF must publish information regarding all transactions on its website, subject to commercial confidentiality, including:

a) the name of the Project Proponent;

b) the goods/services involved;

c) the location;

d) the type of Financing Mechanism; and

e) the amount of the Financing Mechanism.

Reference:

SI-39 Ketter, Chris Office of Northern Australia Funding under the NAIF 15/12/16

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup1617/Industry/index

*Once you have the name ‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project’ you can easily find this link which provides you with the project proponent and the location: https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/north-galilee-basin-rail-project.html

Larissa Waters’ line of questioning at the March 2, 2017 senate estimates is interesting. By this time the senator would have seen the response to QoN SI.36 and accessed the relevant Queensland Department of State Development documents and seen that Adani Mining Pty Ltd were the NGBR project proponents. But in QoN AI.71 she asks a question for which she ought to know the answer.

Quote:

QUESTION No.: AI-71

1. Can you shed any light at all on which Adani company has applied for financial assistance? The reason we’re interested is that the company which owns the Carmichael mine (Adani Mining Pty Ltd) is ultimately owned by a company registered in the tax haven Mauritius, and the company that owns their proposal for the railway line is ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands. The company that owns the Abbot Point coal port is also owned ultimately in the Cayman Islands.

Reference:

AI-71 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Adani loan 22/05/2017

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/add1617/Industry/index

Having read the submissions, the August 11 hearing transcript, responses to questions on notice; because I prepared a blog post dedicated to references by environmental organisations to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project in relation to the North Australia Infrastructure Facility, and because none of those reports ever mentioned Senator Canavan naming the project, I’m left scratching my head wondering how the hell did this happen? Nobody pointed out that the senator had expressly stated it would be a breach of commercial-in-confidence guidelines to name the project and somehow nobody thought to mention the existence of SI.36 and AI.70 in the NAIF senate inquiry.

‘References to NGBR in reports by environmental organisations about the NAIF concessional loan to Adani: Briefing Document’.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/references-to-ngbr-in-reports-by-environmental-organisations-about-the-naif-concessional-loan-to-adani-briefing-document/

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