Stop Galilee coal

Federal Election - No Mandate for Coal

Despite what the Government, the Murdoch press and the coal industry have been saying, the federal election was not a mandate for coal and the #StopAdani campaign is not to blame for Labor’s loss. It’s worth looking at what actually happened.

The truth remains that Adani does not have a social license and two-thirds of Australians oppose it.

The election result is being hailed as a massive victory for the Coalition mostly because of widespread expectations that Labor woud win.

In the end, Labor had a primary swing against them of -1.4%, but the Liberals also had a primary swing against them of -0.7%. With a minor party vote of 24.9%, preferences swung the election to the Coalition. Labor needed a swing towards them but in most states had a swing against them.  

In Tasmania, Labor experienced the biggest swing against them (-4.3%) and the loss of two seats (Bass and Braddon). Some booths in the northern Tasmanian seat of Bass saw a primary swing of over –13% against Labor. This vote against Labor does not fit with any narrative that the election was a vote for Adani and coal or against climate action.

In New South Wales, there was a primary swing of -2.4% against Labor. They won one seat (Gilmore), and lost one (Lindsay). The electorates in western Sydney clearly swung against Labor. There is no evidence, however, that this was a vote for coal and against climate action.

In Western Australia, where Labor hoped to gain some ground, the primary swing against them was -2.6% but they narrowly held onto all of their seats. Again, there is no evidence that this result was a vote for Adani or coal, or against climate action. In fact the Coalition registered a bigger swing against them of -3.2%.

In South Australia, the previously high Xenophon vote was distributed back to other parties, but again no seats changed hands.  

In Victoria, the swing away from the Coalition (-2.9%) and to Labor (+1.3%) was substantially less than expected. Labor won the new seat of Fraser, and gained Corangamite and Dunkley, which were both notionally Labor after redistributions following the previous federal election. There is some evidence that Labor’s pro-climate positioning helped them in some seats but the swing to Labor was far lower than they hoped.  

In the Australian Capital Territory there were swings away from both major parties, but Labor won the new seat of Bean.

In the Northern Territory there was a healthy swing to Labor in one seat, a minor swing against it in another, but no change in seats.  

In Queensland, the overall primary swing against Labor was -4.2% (roughly the same as Tasmania at -4.3%) and was spread across a lot of electorates in the South East corner as well as regional Queensland. Statewide the Greens had a larger swing to them (+1.3%) than the Coalition (+0.6%) - so much for Queenslanders’ supposedly pro-coal views. The swings were heavily geographically concentrated. Only two seats actually changed hands.

The much talked about swings in the coal mining regions of Central and Northern Queensland mask a more nuanced story. The Coalition actually saw little to no primary swing towards them, but there were significant primary swings against Labor which reflect a major fault-line in politics which has enabled the story to be told by the coal lobby and the Coalition that Queensland voted for coal.

In Queensland the big new factor was a +3.5% primary swing to the UAP whose preferences delivered for the Coalition even though UAP didn’t manage to win a single seat. Clive Palmer and UAP spent an estimated $60-80 million, mostly on advertising – much of it anti-Labor attack ads. It was the biggest spend in an Australian election ever and was larger than the combined spending of all of the other parties. If Palmer wanted to have just bought a couple of seats in parliament, he likely could have. But he focussed his campaign on keeping Labor out and driving preferences to the Coalition.

Bob Brown’s #StopAdani convoy was effectively weaponised by the Coalition and the coal lobby during the election. While the convoy inspired people all the way from Tasmania to Airlie Beach, when it got to Clermont it created a platform for Canavan, Christensen, Hanson and Palmer to tap a volatile feeling that Southerners shouldn’t tell Queenslanders what to do, and are just coming to take their coal jobs.

So did the #StopAdani campaign create a major problem for Labor in Central Queensland? Yes. But we need to remember that this was amplified massively by the campaign and commentary of the mining division of the Queensland CFMMEU and unprecedented advertising and digital astroturfing by the mining lobby (including Palmer).

Did the #StopAdani campaign cost Labor Queensland? No. Even if the same background swing against Labor that happened in NSW or WA played out in regional Queensland the seat outcome would have been the same. Did Labor lose the seat of Longman in Brisbane because of Adani? There is no evidence to support that. Did they see a -8.1% swing against them in the Brisbane electorate of Forde (which they held) because of Adani and coal? There is no evidence to support that either. The election swung on other issues.


up-date February

While the Australian Labor Party is clearly more in favour of effective climate action that the Coalition, the Party has a long way to go when it comes to coal mining. In the SMH on 8 Feb, Chris Bowen is reported to have said that Labor would not block the mine if it wins office. Mr Bowen is a very influential person in the Shadow Cabinet, being Shadow Treasurer. Let’s let him know this is ethically unacceptable!

Mr Burke is another influential person being Shadow Member for the Environment and Water. He is known to hold similar views as those of Mr Bowen. He also says that he doesn’t hear much from his constituents about Adani’s Carmichael Project.

As people of faith, it’s not right that we remain silent. Silence is taken as consent. Let us make sure our elected representatives do hear from us on these issues!

Would you write a letter, along the lines of ......

up-date January, 2019

Adani is a very wealthy company, determined to profit from exporting climate-destroying coal to an already heavily polluted India, and other miners are ready to roll in behind them. This is why, despite the company's difficulties in realising their ambition, ARRCC is not being complacent. We are currently urging Labor to come out more strongly against new coal mines in the Galilee Basin, starting with Adani's Carmichael project. We plan to hold Funerals for Coal outside of key Labor MP offices, and to ask faith communities to put up public signs outside their places of worship highlighting the current climate emergency - which means we should Stop Adani and other new Galilee Basin coal mines.

If you are interested in joining our work, please contact [email protected].


up-date Dec 2018

In late November, 2018, Adani mining CEO Lucas Dow announced that they now have the finance to build both their mine and their rail line to ship the coal to port. They’re saying that they will be able to start work before Christmas.

At the time, Queensland was in the middle of ravaging bush fires and unprecedented high temperatures. There remains drought across most of the state as well as all of New South Wales. Children have been going on strike to protest for urgent climate action. As people of faith, we cannot be authentic and sit this one out.

Tell Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten MP, to get off the fence. Edit and send this template letter to Mr Shorten.

Up-date November 2018

On October 31 Adani announced new plans to start work “within weeks” on a scaled down version of the original project. Essentially, the company is desperate to start digging before the federal election, to make finance easier and make it more difficult for civil society to stop them.

This means the struggle between forces for good and for evil is intensifying regarding Adani, and ARRCC is calling on people of faith to be ready to take action alongside others in the broader environment movement. This is no time to be giving up, indeed it is the moment for action. Convinced already? See We All Live Here.


We All Live Here - a faith-based Stop Adani campaign

We All Live Here – faith communities helping to Stop Adani

The We All Live Here campaign provides you with a toolkit which you can use with others in your congregation to put pressure on your MP in between now and the next federal election. There are five action steps.

ARRCC’s community organiser, Tejopala Rawls, is available online and by phone to provide support in using the kit.


What next to Stop Adani?

With so many wins on the part of the environment movement in Australia, some are saying the mine won't go ahead anyway. Why waste energy on continuing campaigning? For an answer to this, we have turned to finance analyst, Tim Buckley of the IEEFA, Greenpeace, Sunrise Project and others. Be assured, we need to keep the pressure on, and we need your help to do it! 

The reality is that the personal wealth of Mr Gautam Adani, already a multi-billionaire, more than doubled in 2017, so theoretically the Adani company could finance the Carmichael mine and rail project itself. Mr Adani is known to be determined and, of course, has the backing of Federal and Queensland Governments who are in turn heavily influenced (and generously rewarded financially) by the historically powerful coal lobby.

Catholic theologians, religious join multi-faith calls on Adani

Women Religious and prominent Catholic theologians are among diverse faith leaders who have signed a joint letter asking Mr Gautam Adani to abandon his proposed new coal mine in North Queensland and invest in renewable energy in the region instead.

The faith leaders oppose all new coal mining in the Galilee Basin, saying that it would have an unacceptable impact on water supplies, the global climate and the Reef. They stressed the need for good local jobs in North Queensland and that these would be better met through investment in solar.

Representative from Adani HQ accepts letter from faith leaders, photo courtesy of FLAC

Update on Adani action


A Uniting Church Minister, ordained Buddhist, two lay Catholics and a Quaker were arrested on Tuesday, November 21, for temporarily blocking construction relating to the Adani rail line. If this rail line from Abbott Point to the Galilee Basin is built, potentially with a $1 billion loan from the Federal government, it will lock us in to coal mining for decades, at a time when we need to be investing in renewables.

We're very pleased that we've been able to stop construction on the rail line today. We'll continue to work with people of faith from across the country to ensure that we do not build any new coal mines in Australia. 

If you're in one of the marginal seats in Townsville, please distribute this flyer there. The basic message is this:

If developed, Adani’s mega-mine would open the Galilee, which would lead to significant damage to the climate system by itself.

Queensland already knows the potential impact of climate change, however:

-          Droughts and hot days will become more frequent

-          The CSIRO predicts that cyclones will become more powerful

-          A dying Reef

-          Loss of coastal infrastructure from storm surges and sea level rise

-          Pacific islanders and Torres Strait Islanders will lose their islands

-          A potentially inhospitable climate in one or two generations.

Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine and rail line pose an unacceptable risk. In Court, Adani admitted there would only be at most 1,464 jobs at any one time. For this, Adani would:

  • Flood the world’s markets with cheap coal to compete with renewables
  • Lead to greenhouse pollution equal to that of whole countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia
  • Potentially waste $1bn public money on a failing, shonky foreign corporation with a reputation for defaulting on loans
  • Use large amounts of Artesian Basin groundwater needed for agriculture
  • Steal homelands from the Wangan and Jagalingou Aboriginal people

 Think before you vote.



Stop Adani action 21-11-17 - religious media release

November 21, 2017

Media release             For immediate release


A multi-faith group of six peaceful protesters are blocking work on the rail line from Abbot Point to the Galilee Basin, to protest Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine.  The protesters are all members of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a multi-faith organisation that works with diverse faith communities to tackle global warming.