Home > Economics - General, Environment > My submission or the Abbot Point port expansion Environmental Impact Statement

My submission or the Abbot Point port expansion Environmental Impact Statement

August 28th, 2015

The Queensland government is going ahead with (or, more hopefully, going through the motions of) the process for expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement has just been released, and there is a call for comments here

My comment relates to the economic impact of the project. The estimated cost is nearly $60 million, which could otherwise be allocated to alternative, urgently needed infrastructure projects. This adverse impact is not discussed. The project mentions employment benefits, but these would also be realised if the funds were spent elsewhere.

Unlike alternative investments, the proposed Abbot Point expansion is unlikely to yield any benefits to offset the costs. This is because mining in the Galilee Basin is not commercial at existing coal prices. As a result all projects in the area have been effectively cancelled or mothballed. In particular, Adani’s Carmichael project has been shut down. All major contractors have been dismissed, and the main financial advisers, CBA and Standard Chartered, have ended their roles. Since most major international banks have already announced their refusal to fund the project and attempts to source funds from state-backed lenders such as the State Bank of India and the Korean Export-Import Bank have proved unavailing, there is no prospect of this project going ahead in the medium term.

Expenditure on the Abbot Point expansion, including the expenditure incurred in the EIS and tendering process, is a waste of public money.

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  1. Ikonoclast
    August 28th, 2015 at 14:44 | #1

    Can’t see any links. Are links intended?

  2. Megan
    August 28th, 2015 at 15:03 | #2


    The draft EIS and “Have Your Say” are both linked from that page.

  3. John Quiggin
    August 28th, 2015 at 17:17 | #3

    I’ve added the link now. Didn’t work the first time.

  4. Salient Green
    August 28th, 2015 at 18:49 | #4

    I think it’s just another of Abbott’s jabs at environmentalists. It’s not a waste of money to him while it’s getting the greenies all stirred up and anxious. Probably a useful distraction to draw some of the lefties away from all the other LNP abominations like the trade agreements and union royal commission.

  5. Megan
    August 28th, 2015 at 19:12 | #5

    @Salient Green


    Abbot Point is as much, if not even more, an ALP thing.

  6. Donald Oats
    August 28th, 2015 at 19:40 | #6

    I don’t think there is any point to Abbott 🙁

    Less seriously, we just witnessed a collapse of the coal price, we are watching some serious ructions in the Chinese share markets, and our dollar has declined precipitously, and they want to expand Abbott Point now? That barn door closed long after the horse had bolted.

    Put the money into Queensland’s Indigenous health and education, and infrastructure. At least it might do some real good.

  7. Salient Green
    August 28th, 2015 at 20:34 | #7

    Yep, point taken, but for different reasons. For the ALP it is about appeasing the Unions for jobs. For Abbott, naked idealism, base politics, going down fighting, reds under the bed, the humble servant of transnational corporations via the IPA, etc.

  8. Megan
    August 28th, 2015 at 20:52 | #8

    @Salient Green

    I’m not sure about that. Which unions? What jobs?

    The ALP ensured (union) rail jobs were thrown under the bus (ha ha) when they sold off QR and their “guarantees” proved worthless.

    In my view, it’s also for the ALP “..naked idealism, … the humble servant of transnational corporations”.

    Remember it was the ALP that sold Abbot Point Port to Adani in the first place.

  9. Salient Green
    August 28th, 2015 at 21:07 | #9

    The right wing unions, the ones that are still duped by the neo-liberal consensus. Penny Wong thinks Australians are up for trade liberalisation, are up for the China FTA, the one that will create thousands of jobs. That’s what passes for thinking in parts of Labor and that’s why some of the unions ‘think’ there are jobs in coal.

  10. Megan
    August 28th, 2015 at 21:28 | #10

    Yes, it’s all a charade – the “Unions” and ALP hierarchy are neo-liberal ideologues and the ALP pretends it is catering for workers (because it must listen to the Unions), and the neo-liberal project rolls on.

  11. August 28th, 2015 at 22:40 | #11

    The last sentence of the submission implies that it too, as part of the EIS process, is a waste of public money. That can’t be quite right. In a first-choice world, yes. But in a second-best world, stopping a much larger waste is a good use of JQ’s valuable time.

  12. Hal9000
    August 28th, 2015 at 22:50 | #12

    The estimated cost is nearly $60 million

    This appears to be an underestimate by two orders of magnitude. Are you perhaps just referring to the cost of the EIS, Prof Q?

    At any event, the Queensland Government’s position is obvious: they don’t want to wear the albatross of having ‘sunk’ this allegedly hugely beneficial project. As Megan points out, the Gallilee Basin was spruiked by Bligh and Gillard as a bonanza, It was always dodgy, even at the higher coal prices then obtaining. So Palaszczuk has to been seen to be 100% supportive, so others can wear the blame when it all goes belly-up. At least the Palaszczuk government has pulled the pin on actual public investment in the infrastructure, which was of course the Newman position. If the EIS costs $60 million, it’s chicken feed compared with the $10 billion plus the port and railway would have cost the taxpayer had Newman remained in office.

  13. Ikonoclast
    August 29th, 2015 at 07:20 | #13

    I’m confused. Why does government have to help private big business? I thought this was free enterprise, the free market system they always tout? The system where private business operates free of government handouts. Apparently not.

    There is nothing wrong with governments doing things if;

    (a) it’s the right thing which coal mining isn’t any more; and
    (b) the results belong to all the people not just a few rich people.

  14. rog
    August 29th, 2015 at 21:01 | #14

    Newcastle Council have announced that they wildest funds from fossil fuel investments. This has enraged unions, ALP and Abbott.

    A wide range of opinion here

  15. rog
    August 29th, 2015 at 21:07 | #15


  16. rog
    August 29th, 2015 at 21:08 | #16

    Westpac rep said

    “There’s a role for fossil fuels as we are weaning ourselves off it,”

    without defining “weaning”.

    Seems other councils are also considering divestment

  17. August 31st, 2015 at 00:02 | #17

    Additional suggestion for the inquiry: the name of the project should be changed from “Abbot Point” to “Abbott Pointless”.

  18. rog
    August 31st, 2015 at 06:21 | #18

    Morgan Stanley global outlook for coal and ore is dismal – continuing low prices driven by Australia flooding the market. These low prices have made at least 1/6 Australian mines uncompetitive (I’ve heard a higher figure) which seems to prove that market players don’t know best. Yet Ken Henry was shouted down for even suggesting that the industry would benefit from a slower rate of development.

  19. pablo
    August 31st, 2015 at 10:59 | #19

    Mention of Newcastle and divestments also raises a similar problem to Abbott Point in the on-going plans for a fourth coal loader at the world’s biggest coal port. Despite declining coal prices, the big players are increasing their tonnages through the port and hence, arguing for more loading capacity. The new plan is still at the ‘approval’ stage but you have to wonder how these juggernauts get stopped in the face of ‘rational’ economic factors.

  20. rog
    August 31st, 2015 at 14:20 | #20

    NREL recently released data showing that next-generation wind turbines could reach an incredible capacity factor of 60% over 2 million square kilometers of the US, or enough to provide roughly 10x as much electricity as the US uses


  21. rog
    September 2nd, 2015 at 03:23 | #21

    Gloucester Council recently introduced a divestment policy and surprise surprise the vote was unanimous.


  22. September 7th, 2015 at 13:13 | #22

    You’re very professional.

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