Australian cricketing greats Ian and Greg Chappell have signed an open letter calling on Indian billionaire Gautam Adani to abandon his company’s proposed Queensland coalmine. The Chappells, well-known through their sporting exploits in India where the Australian team is currently playing, joined 90 prominent Australians in the letter, which will be delivered to Adani’s head office.
Signatories include former Labor federal environment minister Peter Garrett; authors Richard Flanagan, Tim Winton and Helen Garner; Telstra chair John Mullen; investment banker Mark Burrows; and former Australian of the Year, Prof Fiona Stanley. The letter will be hand-delivered by Geoff Cousins, the businessman, environmental activist and former adviser to then Australian prime minister John Howard, who hopes to appeal to the Adani family’s concern for their business reputation.
The move was ridiculed by federal government MP George Christensen, who railed against the signatories as “elitist wankers” trying to wipe out job opportunities for struggling regional Queenslanders. Christensen said in a statement: “Styling themselves as ‘prominent Australians’, these elitist wankers include investment bankers, CEOs of major corporations such as Telstra, pretentious literati, professional activists and has-been celebrities. I’d love for just one of them to come down to the Larrikin Hotel in Bowen and explain to the locals there who have been suffering from a stalled economy for years on end, why they think the jobs from the Carmichael Mine and Abbot Point coal port expansion should not be created.”
Ian Chappell told the Australian Broadcast Corporation that opposition to the mine in Australia could affect sporting ties with India. “Cricket has a bit to do with the feeling between India and Australia,” he said. “The thought that this [mine] could affect the relationship, hopefully that’ll get through.”
“The Queensland premier and mayors are on a dangerous junket to promote a damaging project. We are in India to tell Adani that Australians do not want this coalmine and will continue to fight it tooth and nail,” Cousins said. “We would welcome Adani’s investment in solar instead.”
However, the state government holds veto power over Adani’s application for a $1b federal government loan to build a railway to link the mine to its port hundreds of kilo-metre away.