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Palaszczuk’s Adani loan veto decision ‘jeopardises mine project’

Related Story: Queensland Premier to exercise state veto on Adani, slams 'smear campaign'

The Queensland Premier's announcement that Labor would not support a concessional Federal Government loan for the Adani coal mine could stop the multi-billion-dollar project and jeopardises the thousands of jobs it would create, the Federal Coalition says.

Annastacia Palaszczuk made the shock announcement last night to eliminate any perceived conflict of interest after it was revealed her partner had links to the loan application.

Ms Palaszczuk has revealed her partner, Shaun Drabsch, worked on Adani's application to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) with his employer, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which acted for the Indian mining company.

She said he worked on the project after it had received government approvals and although she had followed advice of the Integrity Commissioner, she said it was her decision to exercise her government's "veto" to not support the loan.

The Indian mining giant is seeking $1 billion from the NAIF to build a rail link for its planned Carmichael coal mine in north Queensland.

The Premier, fighting for re-election on November 25, said she made the announcement because the Liberal National Party (LNP) in Canberra was poised to launch a smear campaign against her.

"I think we have reached a new low in Australian politics," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"I have done everything by the book, my partner Shaun has done everything by the book … and now during an election campaign, they seek to smear his name and my name."

Federal Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the Premier's decision could jeopardise the mine.

"So this decision by Annastacia Palaszczuk certain potentially puts thousands of jobs at risk, a multi-billion-dollar project at risk," he said.

"The rules are clear here that for a loan to be made under the Northern Australia infrastructure facility, a state government must sign the project's finance documents and co-operate with us.

"It seems strange that a situation would be allowed to emerge where a premier's partner could completely stop a government from making a decision on a multi-million-dollar project."

Ms Palaszczuk said the veto needed the endorsement of Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls, since her government was in caretaker mode until the election, adding she did not think the loan would effect the viability of the project.

Mr Nicholls said he had no knowledge of the rumours and would not veto the loan.

Adani has not yet responded to the Premier's announcement.

Labor's move could see minor party challenge 'melt away'

Griffith University political analyst Paul Williams said the Premier's move could bolster Labor's stocks in the state's south-east, where "opposition to the Adani mine was strongest".

"I think that will be welcomed from a lot of those voters and might pull back some of those Labor voters who are going to the Greens for that purpose," he said.

"But again in the regions, it could hurt the Premier, obviously unemployment is problematic across the state, but it's particularly pronounced in northern Queensland."

He said the Premier's move could even see the influence of the minor parties, like a resurgent One Nation, melt away.

"It elevates the LNP and Labor as the key protagonists, one is pro-Adani and one is appearing to be less pro," he said.

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