Aslan Shand & Mia Armitage
The Tweed Shire Council has performed a political back-flip on a 2017 promise to avoid hiring building companies contracted to Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in central Queensland.
Councillors voted for the ban two years ago, with Tweed Shire Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) saying they ‘wished to represent the views of the community’.
Cr Cherry said Adani didn’t have any approvals to mine in Carmichael at the time but people on the Tweed were concerned about potential environmental impacts of the project on the Great Barrier Reef.
Labor councillor flips anti-Adani ban in favour of jobs
Last week, Cr James Owen (Liberals) tabled a rescission on the 2017 vote and won majority support, meaning the ban no longer applies.
Cr Ron Cooper (Independent) was absent from the meeting and had originally supported an anti-Adani stance.
But a change of heart from Cr Reece Brynes (Labor) was enough to change council policy as he joined forces with Councillors Owen, Pryce Allsop (Independent) and Warren Polglase (Nationals).
Cr Byrnes told Echonetdaily although he initially voted for the ban and continues to share environmental impact concerns, state and federal government approvals of the Carmichael project mean the council has to ‘accept realities’.
‘My priority and Labor’s priority is always about creating more local jobs in the Tweed,’ he wrote in an email, ‘I make no apologies that Labor’s priority is always about creating jobs’.
The council had to ‘move away from a position of protest’ to one that wouldn’t ‘prohibit or hamper future projects and jobs for people in the tweed’, Cr Byrnes wrote.
But Cr Cherry has told Echonetdaily hers was not a decision based on ideologies.
‘This is a decision based on limiting Councils financial risk,’ she wrote in an email.
Cr Cherry said very few companies on the Tweed were impacted by the council’s 2017 decision.
The councillor last week wrote to NewsCorp, asking a reporter at Tweed Daily News to let readers know the council’s ban applied to civil construction companies only.
She wrote of a ‘misunderstanding’ in the community that the council’s vote two years ago impacted on all tender processes.
‘If you have a company that tenders for other services or products then this requirement does not impact on you,’ Cr Cherry wrote.
‘It would appear the Carmichael mine project is financially extremely vulnerable,’ she wrote, before quoting from senior forensic accounting specialist from the University of Sydney, Professor van der Laan.
Professor van der Laan has described Adani as ‘effectively insolvent’ and says she wouldn’t have anything to do with the company.
Cr Cherry wrote ‘I think we, as a council, need to distance ourselves from this financial risk, just like the four major banks have done.’
The deputy mayor and Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne (Greens) lost their vote against the rescission.
- This article has been updated since it was originally published to include a correction. Cr James Owen tabled the rescission, not Cr Reece Byrnes as originally written. Cr Byrnes voted in support of the rescission.