THERE’S a bit of an in-joke among Townsville residents about Adani’s mega coal mining project that if you ask them to explain, is an instant conversation killer. The first time I hear it is from a local scientist touching on some potential environmental concerns linked to the construction of railway line.
“Not having a go at it (the mine) but just making a point,” he says. “Coming from Townsville I’d be shot if I had a go at it.” There’s laughter among those listening but when I ask him later to clarify, the conversation takes on a serious tone and he’s reluctant to expand further.
He tells me opinion within Townsville is split and when I ask him if he feels he can’t be open he says: “I just feel like without having all the information I wouldn’t want to judge either way”.
Later he says: “I think people generally are supportive (of the mine) to be honest because they’re really focused on jobs”. It’s this promise of jobs that has echoed throughout the region and discouraged many from speaking out against the mine, even though I spoke to many worried about impacts to the environment, especially the Great Barrier Reef.
“I think some people do keep to themselves if they have environmental concerns because the economy is in such a trough, they don’t want to be singled out as being against something that’s good for the economy,” engineer Kerry tells me over a beer at The Brewery, a pub located across the water from Adani’s Townsville headquarters.