Michael Roche is the executive director of the Queensland Resources Council – the powerful peak lobby group for the state’s coal industry.
Last night he went on the telly to explain a few things about why he thinks the federal government should remove the rights of environment groups in Australia to use the Federal court system to review decisions made under Federal environment laws.
The debate comes out of a case in which the federal court ordered that a decision by the Environment Minister Greg Hunt to approve Indian mining company Adani’s giant Carmichael coal mine should be set aside.
The ruling was on the back of a technicality, as the minister himself conceded. The upshot is that the decision to approve the mine will be delayed a few weeks, rather than be overturned.
Roche appeared on Lateline alongside Jeff Smith, the boss of the New South Wales Environmental Defenders Office – the legal group that takes on cases on behalf of conservation groups.
During the debate, ABC host Tony Jones pointed out that “even coal baron Clive Palmer” didn’t agree that the laws should be changed. I just wanted to highlight Roche’s answer, which I thought instructive.
MICHAEL ROCHE: Can I just touch on Mr Palmer? Mr Palmer has a vested interest here. Mr Palmer would see himself as a competitor to Adani in terms of being the first mover in the Galilee Basin. So I set aside Mr Palmer’s comments as self-interest.
So Michael Roche says he can “set aside” Palmer’s view because he has a vested interest.
The last time I checked, the Queensland Resources Council gets something in the order of $13 million in membership fees and income (financial statement for year ending June 2013). QRC’s members include the state’s coal mining powerhouses, including Adani.
So if we take our direction from Roche on who we should and should not listen to, then surely we should all “set aside” the views of the QRC?