The Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani)
Bill 2017 (the bill) was introduced by Senator Larissa Waters on 13 June 2017.
On 22 June 2017, the Senate referred the bill to the Senate Environment
and Communications Legislation Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report
by 13 September 2017.
Conduct of the inquiry
In accordance with its usual practice, the committee advertised the
inquiry on its website and wrote to relevant individuals and organisations
inviting submissions. The date for receipt of submissions was 14 July 2017.
The committee received 33 submissions, which are listed at Appendix 1. The
committee also received a form letter from five individuals. The submissions
and copy of the form letter are available at www.aph.gov.au/senate_ec.
The committee also received 204 short statements which were accepted by
the committee as correspondence. Many of these statements commented on general
issues related to the Adani mining project and did not make specific reference
to the provisions of the bill.
The committee thanks all of the individuals and organisations that
contributed to the inquiry.
Reports of other committees
When examining a bill or draft bill, the committee takes into account
any relevant comments published by the Senate Standing Committee for the
Scrutiny of Bills. The Scrutiny of Bills Committee assesses legislative
proposals against a set of accountability standards that focus on the effect of
proposed legislation on individual rights, liberties and obligations, and on
In its Scrutiny Digest 7 of 2017, the Scrutiny of Bills Committee
stated that it had no comment on the bill.
Scope and structure of the report
This report comprises two chapters as follows:
Chapter 1—provides background information and the purpose of the
Chapter 2—outlines the principal issues raised in submissions,
and contains the committee view and recommendation.
Adani Mining Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of India's Adani Group,
is the proponent for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project. This project includes
a proposed open-cut and underground coal mine with an expected yield of 60
million tonnes per annum, and a 189 kilometre railway line. It is to be located
in the Galilee Basin, 160 kilometres west of Clermont, Queensland. The railway is
expected to connect the mine to Moranbah, where it will join the exiting
Goonyella rail system, connecting to coal terminals at the point of Hay Point
and Port of Abbot Point.
Adani Mining Pty Ltd is also the proponent of the North Galilee Basin
Rail Project, an approximately 310 kilometre rail line connecting the Galilee
Basin to the Port of Abbot Point. This project would connect with rail
infrastructure proposed as part of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project.
Both projects have been approved as controlled actions under the Environment
Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Adani Abbot Point Terminal Pty Ltd is the proponent for the Abbot Point
Coal Terminal 0 Project which is also an approved controlled action under the
EPBC Act. This project entails the construction of a new terminal located to
the south of the existing Terminal 1 facility at Abbot Point.
Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility
The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is a key
initiative of the Australian Government's policy framework as established by
the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia: Our North, Our Future.
The NAIF will be responsible for administering up to $5 billion over
five years in concessional finance to support significant infrastructure
including airports, communications, energy, ports, rail and water. It is
designed to complement private sector investment in major infrastructure
The NAIF is established as an independent statutory authority under the Northern
Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016 (NAIF Act) and the NAIF Board is
responsible for making investment decisions, and considering the financial
viability of proposals. The NAIF Act also provides for the Northern
Australia Infrastructure Facility Investment Mandate Direction 2016 (the Investment
Mandate), a binding Ministerial Direction establishing how the NAIF is to
perform its duties.
Purpose of the bill
The bill seeks to amend provisions of the EPBC Act regarding
consideration of a person's history in relation to environmental matters for
all future projects. In addition, it seeks to apply these amendments to three
projects already approved under the EPBC Act.
Specifically, the bill proposes to amend the EPBC Act to:
require the mandatory consideration of a person's history in
relation to environmental matters, both in Australia and overseas, when making
statutory decisions related to approvals, and when varying or adding to any
conditions attached to an approval;
broaden the categories of persons or entities, whose history in
relation to environmental matters the Minister must consider to include
'associated entities and, in some cases, the executive officers of such
The bill would also require the Secretary of the Department of the
Environment and Energy to review the approval decisions in relation to three
specified referrals: Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project; Abbott Point Coal
Terminal 0; and North Galilee Basin Rail Project. This review must consider the
new broader considerations of the proponent's history in relation to
environmental matters. As a result of this review, the Minister would be
required to consider whether the proponent is a suitable person to hold the
The Explanatory Memorandum describes the proposed amendments as
strengthening the EPBC Act 'to make sure that environmental history, including
overseas environmental history, must always be considered when approvals are
given, varied, suspended, revoked or transferred'.
The bill also proposes to amend the NAIF Act by inserting new
subsections 11(2A) and 11 (2B) to introduce a 'suitable person test'. This test
would require the NAIF to assess a project proponent's character prior to
making an Investment Decision and to decide whether the proponent is a suitable
person to receive finance from NAIF.
The Explanatory Memorandum states that the test 'is intended to be broad
given the wide range of possible projects which could benefit from funding
under the NAIF and the broad public interest in ensuring that public money is
not wasted'. The test would include a proponent's environmental history and
prior commercial dealings. The bill also proposes (subsection 11(6)) to require
the relevant Minister to veto a project proposal if the NAIF Board reaches the
conclusion that the project proponent fails the suitable person test.
Proposed subsection 11(2C) would require NAIF to undertake mandatory
consultation with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
The Explanatory Memorandum states that the introduction of a suitable
person test into the NAIF ACT is intended to 'make sure that the Australian
Government cannot hand out $1 billion to Adani for their coal railway' through
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