Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has declared her Government will veto a potential $1 billion loan for Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine and rail project, as it was revealed her partner worked on behalf of the mining giant.
Palaszczuk said last Friday her partner, Shaun Drabsch, worked on Adani’s loan application to the Turnbull Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, as part of his job at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Premier denied to reporters that there was any conflict of interest, but accused the Federal LNP of attempting a smear campaign against her in the lead-up to the Queensland election, on November 25.
She said she would exercise her right to veto the NAIF loan, which is to help build Carmichael’s rail line, if she was still in power when the decision was made.
“This afternoon I announce that my Government has had no role to date in the Federal Government’s assessment process for Adani – now we will have no role in the future,” she said.
“To action my decision, I propose to write to the Prime Minister to notify him that my Government will exercise its ‘veto’ to not support the NAIF loan,” she said, adding the move was “to remove doubt about any perception of conflict”.
The announcement by Palaszczuk – now in caretaker mode just weeks away from the election – is likely to put the Adani project firmly in the minds of voters on November 25. Palaszczuk is unable to exercise her power to veto while acting as caretaker premier, so a veto would only happen if she was re-elected. Opposition leader Tim Nicholls is unlikely to veto the loan, if it is approved at the Federal level.
Palaszczuk accused the Federal LNP of attempting to interfere with the state election, after she heard of a “rumour” that her partner’s role on Adani would be brought into the spotlight.
She said her partner’s work was commercial-in-confidence, and that he had not discussed it with her. She also noted that his work was on a federal loan, and he had not been a part of any of the state-level approvals.
“I think we have reached a new low in Australian politics,” Palaszczuk said. “I have done everything by the book, my partner Shaun has done everything by the book.
“During an election campaign, [the LNP] seek to smear his name and my name.”
Palaszczuk has received support from an unlikely source following her announcement, with former Queensland LNP stalwart Vaughan Johnson calling for a fair fight.
“We’ve seen now a bucket of mud that’s been thrown from Canberra that’s lobbed right in the face of the election campaign in Queensland,” Johnson was quoted by ABC.
“The fingerprints of Canberra are all over this exercise … I’m an LNP member and I’m loyal to the operation, but there’s one thing I am not loyal to: mudslinging. Let’s keep this a clean, fair dinkum state election operation between Nicholls and Ms Palaszczuk and may the best team win.”
Nicholls denied there was any LNP involvement in the revelations.
“I don’t know where Vaughan Johnson would get that information from because there’s not a skerrick of evidence that supports it,” Nicholls was quoted as saying by ABC.
“If there had been, Annastacia Palaszczuk would have produced it. She seems to be running on rumour and polls.”