Sunday, 24 July 2016

New Australian Resources Minister Matthew Canavan thinks mine approvals are just a matter of ticking boxes?

After sitting in the Senate for barely two years, Queensland Liberal National Party Senator Matthew Canavan is now Australian Minister for Resources.

No academic training directly relevant to this portfolio, an economist for hire flitting from job to job - Productivity Commission 2003-08, KPMG 2008, Productivity Commission 2009-10 and, then Chief of Staff to Senator Barnaby Joyce 2010-13 (now Deputy Prime Minister) until he also stood for the Senate in September of that last year.

A member of the Coalition ‘Catholic mafia’, an acknowledged supporter of coal, coal seam gas and uranium mining as well as someone perilously flirting with coming out as a climate change denier.

Since entering the Senate he has voted against granting landowners the right to say “No” to coal seam gas exploration on their land; against an audit of the human impacts of coal seam gas mining; against properly funding the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA); said no to increasing investment in renewable energy; didn’t support ending fossil fuel industry donations to political parties; was strongly against treating government action on climate change as a matter of urgency; and, put a motion to the Senate asking the Labor Party to support Coalition legislative amendments stopping environmental groups from challenging government decisions.

In his maiden speech he made his position abundantly clear:

I want to put on record my admiration and support for our fossil fuel industry and the thousands of jobs it supports – including my brother’s. 

The resources lobby return the compliment this month.

My Sunshine Coast, 18 July 2016:

Statement by Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Michael Roche.

I wish to congratulate Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on his ministerial choices today.

The sector has won the trifecta with the appointment of new Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan, the new Industry, Science and Innovation Minister Greg Hunt and the new portfolio of Environment and Energy, going to former resources minister Josh Frydenberg.

The resources sector requires steady safe hands to ride through the commodities downturn and in the face of a relentless green activist campaign.

Senator Canavan has already proven to be a champion for the sector in Queensland, in his role as Minister for Northern Australia, and I am confident he will be a strong voice for resources around the cabinet table.

I hope that the three ministers will work together to ensure that barriers to investment in the sector be removed wherever possible to ensure that the significant revenue and jobs from the sector continue to flow.

The resources sector should be an integral part of rolling out the Turnbull Government’s jobs and growth election platform. In Queensland alone, the resources sector indirectly and directly accounts for one in every five dollars in the economy and one in every six jobs.

Regional Queensland families who are relying on resources projects to keep shirts on the backs of their families will be very happy indeed that Senator Canavan will continue the federal government’s support of the sector.

The Guardian took a more measured approach to the new minister on 19 July 2016:
The new resources minister, Matthew Canavan, has warned there is still a level of uncertainty about the impact of carbon emissions on global warming and described the Adani Carmichael coalmine as an “incredibly exciting project” for Australia.
Canavan, who has previously called for funding for climate change sceptic scientists, is also responsible for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, which will decide whether to recommend the Queensland government’s application for a federal loan for the Adani railway link.
He said while he had the final decision on projects recommended by the NAIF, the body had only come into being on 1 July and had yet to make any recommendations to him as minister.
Canavan is the biggest winner of the ministry reshuffle, elevated to cabinet and given the resources portfolio to add to his northern Australia outer ministry position. He said he accepted the warming impact of carbon dioxide, notwithstanding a level of uncertainty. He accused “certain interest groups” of exaggerating the effects of carbon emissions.
“There is a level of uncertainty about the impact of carbon emissions,” Canavan told Sky News. “Indeed, in the last IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, the level of confidence reduced in the forcing effect of carbon emissions.
“There is a lot about the climate system we don’t understand, a lot of assumptions we have to make with projections of course. I just feel we should all be a little more humble about our climate and our system.
“To think that we know it all and exactly how to fine tune the temperature, to talk of half a degree of temperature that we could somehow manage that and hit that target, we don’t understand all the impacts.”
Canavan said climate policy changes impacted “real people’s lives” and moving to 100% renewables was naive.
“We do understand that making some policy changes have real world impacts on real people’s lives, it would cause people to be very poor if we completely cut fossil fuels out of the world economy,” Canavan said.
“There is still more than a billion people without access to electricity in our world and these are real world issues we need to be adult about.”
Canavan said there were “great advances” in the coal industry, including ultra-critical and supercritical power plants, which produce less emissions but are more expensive.
“Talk of moving to 100% renewables is not only quite naive at the moment – maybe that is something that can happen but we can’t bank on it,” Canavan said. “It is also something that will imperil our prosperity and welfare.”
He described the Adani project, which has been delayed by financing issues, a global coal slump and legal challenges by traditional owners and environmental groups, as “an incredibly exciting project for our country”.
He said as minister he saw his primary job as facilitating the project to “make it easy as possible” while ticking the boxes on environmental, health and safety and community impacts.
Canavan, who lives within a few hundred kilometres of the mine, said the project was an opportunity for Australia to improve its relationship with India.

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