We are led to believe that the economic future of North Queensland is utterly dependent upon the opening of the Adani Mine in the Galilee Basin. Without it, we are told that there will be massive unemployment and a general economic downturn.
Indeed, it is of such enormity that an election in Melbourne for the Seat of Batman in the Federal Parliament will be decided on the issue, even though the electorate and the mine are thousands of kilometres apart.
This nonsense, spread by politicians, free market advocates, climate change deniers and general fear mongers, badly fails the pub test.
The stark fact is that development of the North and the Inland has never been backed by either serious political will or genuine investment, nor has a well researched long term plan of sustainable development for the region ever been prepared, let alone implemented.
The Adani mine was chosen as a quick fix for years of neglect and it was based on series of appalling fabrications.
The Galilee Basin contains only high emission coal of poor quality which is very inferior to the high quality of the nearby Surat Basin, the development of which was shut down by the Newman and Palaszczuk Governments. They were paralysed by fear that voters would work out that, by proceeding with Adani, they were developing the worst coal basin on our continent.
(Governments did the same with the North West Mineral Province of Queensland. They stopped development of the new railway it needs to Townsville fearing that it too would detract from Adani. Actually, Adani became a sick obsession for all politicians of any colour.)
The other minus for the Adani mine is also enormous.
It is located too far from the Port of Bowen to be financially viable and environmentally friendly and its railway will not create any economic value to any other industry in its region, even farming, It will just serve one low quality mine.
If we add to this the fact that it will also consume water needed by our agricultural and grazing industries, then you have a lamentable fraud that has been inflicted on the people of our North.
So, let us all face the fact that the Adani mine will never get up.
And it does not deserve to get up.
In a million years, its coal will have matured enough to be worth mining.
For now, there is huge potential to expand production at every one the existing mines in the Bowen Basin, as well as to open thermal coal mines in the Surat Basin, which are already fully planned, but killed by governments. Both basins will create more jobs than Adani ever dreamed of.
The added bonus of the Surat is that it will use the Port of Gladstone which is at the bottom end of the Great Barrier Reef and has huge unused capacity so that no new investment is needed.
So much for Adani.
Lets look at agriculture as its main alternative.
From Richmond and Hughenden in the north, down through Winton and Longreach and into the Channel Country, there lies some of the best black soil agricultural land in the world. It simply lacks water and investment. It could become the bowl for the food that billions of Asians want.
The water needed to open up the black soil country for agriculture can easily be diverted from the tropical rivers of the north at an affordable cost and in sufficient quantity to be able to progressively move the cotton industry to the North and take huge water pressure off the Murray Darling Basin.
The missing element, and a huge one, is a considerable lack of fast efficient low cost transport. This malady has been the scourge of the bush for 200 years of European settlement and a massive indictment of many governments who have done absolutely nothing about it.
An extensive upgrade of existing railways and a reopening of discarded ones will be vital, plus the opening of new ones to Gulf ports.
The economic impact of all of this will be enormous.
Some country towns will become regional cities with all the social infrastructure that those cities will need. They will become the powerhouses of new value added industries using a wide range of rural products.
All of this opens up the potential to develop Cape York Peninsula, the most neglected part of the Australian Continent. It can become the mecca for new industries of tropical orientation based on the experience of the nations of the tropics world wide. The neglect of the Cape has been an enormous disgrace.
This means that we are now paying a heavy price for the fact that Australia has never ever planned anything. We have just ‘grown like Topsy’.
Not only does the North not have a plan for development, nowhere else in Australia does either, especially our cities which have become crowded and clogged monstrosities.
Clearly, we can do better.
Let it happen first in the North, and let it be based on far better visions than Adani, which is such a dud that its own Indian Government wisely wont invest a cent in it.
There just has to be a better way to grow Australia.
Yours at Large
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