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#################### Geoff Seidner
Resources Minister Matt Canavan has accused the ABC of running “fake news” as part of a campaign against the Adani coalmine, in a blistering attack on the national broadcaster for abandoning regional Australia.
Following reports on the ABC that Adani companies use tax havens and are under investigation in India over fraud allegations, Senator Canavan said the reports lacked “credibility” and suggested activists were directing the broadcaster’s coverage.
Arguing that the ABC was acting like the “UBC — the Ultimo Broadcasting Corporation”, Senator Canavan said the most “egregious” report was one that suggested an Indian government power plant had forecast it would not need new coal-fired energy capacity in the next decade and therefore the Adani mine may not be needed.
Senator Canavan said this ignored the fact India still needed another 300 million tonnes of coal a year, which was seven times the size of the Carmichael mine, and questioned whether “third parties” opposed to the development were behind the story.
“It was a completely misleading report, it was fake news. It was not a news story, because what was there was distorted to provide a misleading impression (when) the facts are in the report and are completely accessible,” he said.
Senator Canavan said the issues raised in the ABC’s reports about Adani’s tax affairs would be considered by the expert board of the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility when it was assessing the $1 billion loan for the company, but stressed Australia had a “very strong and robust regulatory system”.
“There has been no advice provided to me that would raise concerns in that regard. They are a large company with lots of projects around the world and we will take our advice from our authorities,” he said.
He added he did not “put a lot of weight” on ABC reports on Adani or the coal sector as there appeared to be “a certain set against the project”.
“There are numerous examples of, in my view, one-sided reporting on this project,” he said.
In this week’s series of reports, the ABC has quoted lawyer Ariane Wilkinson, who is linked with Environmental Justice Australia, and Tim Buckley, who was introduced as a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analytics, but is also a climate change activist.
Senator Canavan said he would contact ABC chief Michelle Guthrie.
“I do think when you are in Sydney and you can grow a hipster beard and ride your bike to work after you have had a smashed avo for breakfast, you get a very different world view than when you are worried about your job, you are worried about whether your kids are going to get a job,” he said.