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Byron Shire
March 24, 2023

Adani and the zombie jobs that just won’t die

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Pro Reef and anti coal, protesters gather outside Queensland's parliament in April to hit out at the state Labor government granting a mining lease for Adani's $22 billion mine, rail and port project for the state's Galilee basin and Abbot Point. AAP Image/Nathan Paull
Pro Reef and anti coal, protesters gather outside Queensland’s parliament in April to hit out at the state Labor government granting a mining lease for Adani’s $22 billion mine, rail and port project for the state’s Galilee basin and Abbot Point. AAP Image/Nathan Paull

Eve Sinton

Australia is a nation on the move: 10,000 people are trudging towards the zombie jobs promised them in Queensland by Indian company Adani at its proposed Carmichael mine.

That job figure has our leaders falling over themselves to expedite approvals and throw one billion taxpayer dollars at Adani.

On December 6 Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, in the lead-up to a media gig in Townsville with boss Gautam Adani, was so excited she multiplied the promised jobs to ‘tens of thousands’ on ABC News 24.

There is a big, farting elephant in Ms Palaszczuk’s office.

The 10,000 jobs are zombie jobs. They lurk year after year in Adani-generated publicity despite the true figure being 1,464. That’s right, under 1,500 jobs according to Adani’s own economic consultant, Jerome Fahrer of ACIL Allen Consulting, testifying in the Land Court of Queensland in January 2015.

The truth does not deter Adani, its acolytes and mainstream media from continuous repetition of the zombie figure 10,000.

‘In dispute’

In the lead-up to the Tuesday Townsville announcement, a preview by the ABC’s Leonie Mellor reported 10,000 jobs.

Having followed the issue for years, I was alarmed to see the fake figure emerge and emailed Ms Mellor, saying the true figure is contained in the expert witness testimony of The Australia Institute, which can be viewed here.

I don’t know if she read my email, but Mellor went to air that night saying ‘the exact number of jobs is in dispute, but ranges between 1,500 and 4,000’.

Next day I almost choked as the 10,000 jobs were thrown up continuously by the ABC as well as the Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post, Murdoch mouthpieces like the Courier Mail and pretty much the entire mainstream media.

Quality of advice

The zombie jobs were heavily promoted by Queensland resources minister Anthony Lynham, LNP opposition leader Tim Nicholls, federal resources minister Matt Canavan, former federal mining minister and now Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane, Townsville mayor Jenny Hill along with local port and business organisations, PM Malcolm Turnbull, deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, and of course, Adani Australia head Jeyakumar Janakaraj.

I was left wondering at the quality of advice politicians receive.

Surely someone has informed Ms Palaszczuk of the Land Court case and the actual figure of 1,464? Don’t Turnbull, Joyce and co have a team of public servants delivering frank and fearless advice?

The zombie jobs look even more shonky alongside the $1 billion concessional loan being offered to subsidise Adani’s proposed railway line from the mine to Abbot Point.

Independent Australia’s mining correspondent Lachlan Barker told me the loan translates out as $683,060 per job. ‘Outrageous,’ he said. ‘If Adani and Palaszczuk are so concerned about jobs, they could employ 1,464 people to work on farms or on reef conservation at the minimum wage in Queensland for a fraction of that cost.’

Solar jobs

Meanwhile, freelance journalist Michael West points out: ‘If that same $1 billion of taxpayers’ subsidy was to finance a solar project it would create 9,000 construction jobs.’

Stack the zombie jobs up against real jobs associated with the nearby Great Barrier Reef, estimated at around 70,000. Jobs already threatened by this year’s death of a third of the reef owing to global warming.

Emissions from what will be the world’s largest coal mine will markedly accelerate climate change. Dredging for the Abbot Point port and heavy shipping through the reef will create further pollution.

As the elephant in Palaszczuk’s office farts again and turns white, keep in mind Adani’s railway line is of incompatible gauge with Queensland’s rail network, making it useless for anything other than hauling coal wagons.

Adani has many problems between its coal dreaming and its hole in the ground.

Banks are steering clear of funding the $22b project, which looks commercially unviable owing to structural decline in world coal prices.

India, destination of the coal and most of the profits, has large coal reserves of its own. India’s PM wants coal imports phased out, and a future focus on renewables.

The Carmichael mine faces further legal challenges, including one from traditional owners determined to go to the High Court.

Farmers object to the government’s gratuitous grant of unlimited free water to the miners, likely to deplete the Great Artesian Basin with colossal water extraction.


Community groups such as Coast and Country and Lock the Gate have pledged to battle Adani on every front, including blockades on the ground if necessary.

What do our politicians, pushing so hard for Adani and Carmichael, expect to get for their efforts? The royalties and taxes are vastly over-stated. There may be more junkets to India, fat political donations and cushy boardroom positions.

All on the back of the taxpayer dollar, environmental havoc and 10,000 zombie jobs.

Eve Sinton is a retired journalist and a Knitting Nanna Against Gas who wants to save the land, air and water for her four grandchildren and all the kiddies of the world.

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  1. The federal government tells us that it is not it making the decision about the $1 billion for the rail line but an allegedly “independent” northern development panel. I reckon it’d be worth looking at the panel to see who these folk are, who made the decision to appoint them, and the criteria used in the selection process. But more than that it is time to question the sustainability of the whole concept of northern development given our already parlours track record when it comes to looking after our fragile environment. Incredible that the government should be subsidising foreign private enterprise to ‘shit in our own nest’ when we have a budget “emergency”.

    • One member of the NAIF is a businesswoman whose husband’s company, Undamine, has been involved in coal mining. They also own a training company , Coal Train. That member was also the director of a company, Our Keppel Our Future, which has heavily promotied the enormous resort development proposed for Great Keppel Island. The family companies own the barge which carries supplies to the island. An application has been made to the NAIF by the current owner of GKI resort for funding for infrastructure for the development.

  2. I am no fan of coal mining, however has the quoted 10,000 jobs ever been promised that they would be direct employees of Adani? I’m guessing no. A mine that size will need tens of thousands of litres of diesel per week – fuel that will need to be supplied by a local (probably Townsville based?) fuel supply company. The additional trucks will need drivers. The trucks will need servicing – probably in Townsville – again, more jobs created for diesel mechanics. And so it goes on and on. It’s not just about the number of Adani employees – the 10,000 figure being bandied about by politicians (and probably somewhat inflated) will cover all the INDIRECT beneficiaries of jobs that have been created to service the mine AND the 1464 Adani employees.

    I am a great fan of solar and renewables, I bought my first Solar panel 15 years ago and have used them ever since. To say that construction of solar farms will employ 9000 people is probably correct, but only for a very short period of time. I have watched with interest the 3 solar fams being built here in Canberra – one about 4km from my home – and that went from a greenfields site to being completed (ergo construction finished) in 5 months. I attended the open day at the official opening of one of the solar farms on Majura road recently, and even cleaning of the panels is a mechanised process with one man an a truck for half a day every few months. One of the great beauties of solar is that it is basically maintenance free.

    So… 9000 jobs for 6 months or 10,000 jobs (hell call it 5000 jobs for 20+ years that Adani mine will operate for) and you tell me which provides more employment?

    I am a big fan of renewables and no fan of coal, but cherry picking facts does not help the argument.


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