Issue threatening to tear Coalition apart
THE Federal Government is divided over the future of the controversial Carmichael coalmine, leaving Adani to sweat on the last major federal environmental approval before the election is called.
Adani chief executive Lucas Dow was locked in meetings in Canberra yesterday in a bid to get answers on the delay to groundwater approval.
Environment Minister Melissa Price has sought extra information from experts at the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, who informed a review that was backed by her department, government sources said.
But Ms Price refused to confirm or deny this.
"There is a process being followed and we're working through that process," Ms Price's spokesman said.
Ms Price has not signed the approval, completed by her department, since it was handed to her office on Monday.
The delay has sparked angst among Queensland Nationals MPs - including Michelle Landry, George Christensen and Ken O'Dowd - who fear they will lose support over any delays because they have campaigned on the promise of jobs from the mine.
A group of Queensland Nationals MPs confronted Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday, but have not been given any clarity about the process.
Some of them believe there could be a decision next week, but this has not been confirmed.
Mr Morrison yesterday insisted there was no delay, and the outstanding ruling was "actually a sub-approval to a previous approval".
Resources Minister and north Queensland senator Matt Canavan, who is a strong advocate of the mine, yesterday denied reports he had threatened to quit Cabinet if the approval was not granted.
"These reports are incorrect," Senator Canavan said in a statement.
"I support the Government's position to progress the Adani Carmichael mine because we support the creation of jobs in regional Queensland."
Green groups and left-wing activists GetUp! are already campaigning against the proposed mine, which is deeply unpopular in many metropolitan seats.
Some government MPs claim Victorian Liberals are trying to derail the approval because the fear they would suffer a backlash if the Government gave the green light to the project on the eve of the election.
Victorian Liberals concede the mine is unpopular in many Melbourne seats, which the Government already risks losing.
But they deny there is any organised push to delay the mine.
An Adani spokeswoman said the company had worked with the federal and Queensland governments on the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan for two years.
"We will continue to work through the processes of the State and Federal environment departments to finalise these plans so that we can get on with delivering thousands of jobs for north and central Queensland," the spokeswoman said.