ADANI REVIEW: Finch panel under fire for anti-coal concerns
ADANI Mining has called for State Government intervention into the Black-Throated Finch Management Plan (BTFMP) review following Tuesday's announcement of the full review panel.
Five of the six panellists are members of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub (TSRH) which has sparked a response from Adani.
"The Queensland Government's claim that this review will be conducted without the presence of bias is farcical, considering five out of the six panel members sit on the Threatened Species Recovery Hub," an Adani Spokesperson said.
"This is the very same organisation whose members have made anti-coal and anti-Adani statements in the past."
Adani questioned whether some members were associated with an anti-coal or anti-Adani agenda.
One of the concerns stemmed around the appointment of Professor John Woinarski who had previously contributed to Green Agenda, a website which they believe facilitated anti-coal and anti-Adani discussion.
However, it is unclear whether Prof Woinarski had been involved in such discussions.
The company also said Professor Brendan Wintle's personal social media would suggest a political partiality, which would impede his ability to conduct an impartial review.
"Based on information that is available in the public domain, Professor Wintle has demonstrated personal views that would make it unreasonable for him to conduct the review," an Adani Spokesperson said.
"Any expert engaged to lead a review such as this must possess the necessary academic qualifications and be impartial and free of any conflicts of interest so that they can present an unbiased assessment, which based upon the information made available to Adani, Professor Wintle is not."
As The Morning Bulletin understands, the Adani spokesperson is referring to a Twitter post made my Prof Wintle in November 2018 which included a picture of his children attending a climate-change rally while holding a sign that reads "I'll stop farting if you stop burning coal".
Prof Wintle believed this particular post was not evidence of a political bias against coal or Adani.
"If accompanying them and allowing them to voice their views makes me an activist, then I reckon there are thousands of grannies across the country who must fall into the same basket," he said.
Adani had also hit out at the State Government for organising a partial review and said problematic review panellists should be removed.
"We're calling on the Queensland Government to ensure that the review process is free of any potential bias, which means removing individuals from the panel where there is a reasonable expectation of that person having personal bias due to a history of publicly stated anti-coal or anti-Adani positions," the spokesperson said.
"We are simply seeking a fair go and that means a timely process that is free of any potential bias or conflict, we don't think that is too much to ask of the Queensland Government."
Adani held further grievances with the State Government regarding a lack of clarity leading into the review.
"Late Monday night (January 21) we received correspondence from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, advising us that the Threatened Species Recovery Hub will not be conducting the review of the Black-throated Finch Management Plan," the spokesperson said.
"This correspondence is in complete conflict with the verbal and written advice we received last Friday (January 18) that clearly detailed that the TSRH would be undertaking the review."
"The latest advice now states that the National Director of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, Professor Brendan Wintle will be leading the review in a personal capacity."
The Morning Bulletin has acquired copies of the correspondence.
Review chair, Prof Wintle defended his decision to appoint TSRH members to the independent panel.
"The TSRH draws together the expertise of more than 150 of Australia's leading threatened species conservation scientists, so it is not surprising that several of the BTFMP panel members are affiliated with the hub," Prof Wintle said.
"Claims by Adani that the Hub is biased or anti-coal appears to be part of a deliberate misinformation campaign.
"The Hub has never spoken out against coal, Adani or the Carmichael Mine."
Queensland Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said she was confident in the integrity of the review and said the appointment was not out of the ordinary considering the circumstances.
"It is very normal practice to engage external experts to support the department, as the regulator, in their decision making in regards to final management plans," Ms Enoch said.
"I have absolute confidence in the Department of Environment and Science to seek out eminent expert advice when they require it to ensure they have all of the relevant information required to make their decision."
"The Environmental laws and conditions upheld in this State are of the highest standard,"