Federal Ministers and officials have helped Adani in attempts to secure funding from foreign governments – not once, but twice in 18 months.
New documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), requested under FOI by the Australia Institute, show in 2017 Adani asked for a “letter of support” to be sent to the Chinese government to “cut through financing negotiations in China” and “help securing Chinese financing”.
That letter was sent in September 2017 by then Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo.
DFAT has also revealed officials met with the Korea Export-Import Bank in 2016 to discuss the Adani project, again at Adani’s request.
Through Estimates last year, the government said both representations merely outlined Adani’s environmental approvals. The DFAT Secretary said it was not DFAT’s role to seek financing for projects.
Yet the new FOI documents show Ambassadors and senior DFAT bureaucrats were discussing Adani’s request for help secure Chinese funding.
This resulted in the letter of support from the then Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister, which said “The Australian Government is strongly committed to the opening up of the Galilee Basin” and that “We welcome foreign lending to support the development of major projects in Australia.”
“It is unknown if DFAT has subsequently helped secure financing from any other governments,”
Australia Institute researcher who made the FOI request, Tom Swann said.
“The fact that Adani needs the Australian government to help it get money from other governments makes vivid the deep risks around this project that have seen numerous other banks turn away.”
“Adani stands to receive financial backing from local, state and federal governments. It has now become clear that the federal government has also been trying to help it secure funding from foreign governments.”
“Funding from foreign government banks is typically provided to support the involvement of foreign suppliers, instead of Australian suppliers,” Swann said.