05 July 2015
by Rossleigh

China Sends Coal (back) to Newcastle

No, this time it isn’t satire and yes, I do acknowledge that these days it’s very hard to tell!
When I wrote about Noam Chomsky’s idea that the best place to get the truth in the newspaper was on the business pages, a few people argued that those capitalist lackey running dogs had the sort of views that were responsible for all that ails the world. However, I wasn’t suggesting that it was their viewpoints that were worth reading. It was what they revealed about what was actually going on.

While the front section of the paper tells you about the economic benefits of the Adani mine like jobs, and tries to suggest the only problem is with the fact that it might bleach a little bit of coral so we need to ask them to be extra careful, it’s the business section that tells us about their attempt to impose a Memorandum of Understanding through the back door:

‘Twice in three years, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) had rejected Adani’s advances to sign a land deal for the mine, and twice Adani had dragged them off to the Native Title Tribunal and sought approval for the state to override their opposition to the mine.

It was just after 9am on Saturday, June 20, when two charter buses turned up at the Tavernetta Function Centre in Carseldine. Adani had bussed in 150 people in a sly bid to force consideration of a new memorandum of understanding they claimed to have with W&J, despite the previous ‘no vote’ from W&J. It was an Adani ambush, and it must have cost a fortune: three days of food, accommodation and transport for 150 people.

“We saw the buses turn up and we were wondering what was going on,” says traditional owner and W&J lead spokesman Adrian Burragubba.

“They tried to organise their own meeting after ours in order to get the people to agree to their MoU – a kind of tricked ILUA [Indigenous Land Use Agreement] when they knew they didn’t have one. Right now we’re in the Federal Court precisely because we refused an ILUA and they have tried to override us.”

But Adani’s cunning stunt backfired. They hadn’t counted on their 150 voters changing their minds after impassioned speeches from the likes of Burragubba. W&J tribal elders are deeply concerned about the effect of the mine on their cultural heritage and the risks it poses to water and wildlife.’ The Age, July 4th 2015

And I suspect that the front pages will be too full of the terrorism threat, and the stories of individuals to tell you about China turning back a boat full of Australian coal, but the business pages thought it an important story. (All right, I know it’d be a ship; but I liked the idea of China turning back a boat!)

Apparently, the Chinese have started testing for fluorine and phosphorus, as well as the traditional tests for sulphur and ash, and this led to a boat load of Australian coal (yes, from Newcastle!) being sent back.

However, “The Age” seemed to be suggesting that was no “environmental” reason for rejecting the coal and there was an ulterior motive in China’s decision to test for fluorine and phosphorus telling us that it was to protect struggling Chinese coal miners.

“I think the environment issue is a secondary reason, the most important issue is that China’s coal market over-supply is too serious,” ICIS China energy analyst Deng Shun was quoted as saying.

“A lot of Chinese coal suppliers, because of this over-supply, have seen their prices drop and suffered serious losses. Many companies have incurred such serious losses that they can’t pay employee wages.”

Mm, perhaps Mr Abbott is pinning his hopes for future markets on lots and lots of naughty boys and girls getting a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking.