Tuesday 24th Oct, 2017

Debate flares over $1bn loan for Adani rail line

Adani's Carmichael project is a potential $16bn mine and rail venture. Photo: Shutterstock / Adani
Adani's Carmichael project is a potential $16bn mine and rail venture. Photo: Shutterstock / Adani

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he has spoken with Adani chairman Guatan Adani about the company’s plans to apply for a $1 billion loan under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, to help build a rail line for the miner’s Carmichael coal project in Queensland.

Turnbull is visiting India this week.

He confirmed to journalists on Tuesday that he had met with Adani, and said the mining magnate planned to make the formal bid for funding under the NAIF.

“Mr Adani in our discussions simply noted that his company expects to make an application to the NAIF on the basis that we’ve described several times,” Turnbull said.

“That’s got an independent board, it will assess the application on its merits and it is obviously going to be dependent on there being other funding as well from the private sector, from external sources to support the railway line.”

Turnbull also indicated his Cabinet was working to progress legislation which will overturn a controversial decision in the Federal Court in February, which enforced the Native Title Act requirement that an Indigenous land use agreement must be signed by all traditional owners to be valid.

While the legislation, which is stuck in the Senate, is particularly important for Adani, Turnbull said it was of importance to the whole mining industry.

“As you know, the Federal Court had made a decision in the McGlade case which gave an interpretation to the Native Title Act that no-one had anticipated,” Turnbull said, “outside of the litigators perhaps.

“It’s caused us a lot of problems with many, many agreements right around the country, not least of all in Western Australia where the case arose.

“So there is a need to deal with the legislation – that is broadly accepted across the Parliament – and I expect that legislative changes will be made when Parliament gets back.”

Turnbull warned that recognition of the McGlade decision would present issues to agreements all around the country.

“It’s a decision that can’t be allowed in practical terms to let stand and there is very strong support for rectifying it,” he said.