Parts of the deal are now subject to an investigation by Queensland’s local government department, and last week the Guardian revealed that despite previously claiming they were paying to own the airport, the two councils will merely lease it from Adani.
Now Katter has weighed in. The Katter’s Australian party MP represents the seat of Kennedy in Queensland’s far north, including the city of Townsville. He said the fact the councils were being asked to pay for the airport raised questions about the mine’s viability.
“I did not believe the news item when I heard it, that ratepayers of Townsville were going to be building an airport 200 to 300km away for a foreign corporation,” he said.
“If the foreign corporation needs $18.5m, then I think we can safely assume the project is in real trouble.”
Townsville council has argued the financial contribution to the airport was necessary to secure 900 jobs for the city as one of Adani’s fly-in, fly-out (fifo) hubs and the location for the company’s headquarters.
But the council has refused to release the terms of the deal with Adani, and Katter questioned how the agreement will guarantee job numbers.
“We have written a letter to the council, asking specifically whether they have secured any agreement in writing with respect to jobs,” he said.
“Have they asked the Adani corporation how many jobs they will control? How many will be controlled by contractors?
“Have they had a legal opinion of what their chances would be enforcing a contract against one of the bigger corporations on Earth? Why does Mr Adani need $18m off the Townsville city council for a project when he is purportedly outlaying $6,000m?”
The Guardian has previously asked the council whether the terms of the deal restrict Adani from flying in workers from airports outside of Rockhampton or Townsville such as Brisbane, but did not get a direct response.
Instead, a spokesman for Townsville council said there were “conditions in place to make sure the fifo jobs, and positions in Adani’s headquarters, go to people living in Townsville”.
“There are also protections to ensure council doesn’t spend money on the airstrip if the mine does not go ahead,” a Townsville council spokesman said. “Townsville ratepayers will not be financially penalised if the mine does not proceed.”