More than $3 million of Australian taxpayers’ money has been invested in an Adani company funding a crucial rail link from the controversial Carmichael coal mine to a port on the Great Barrier Reef, the ABC can reveal.
Documents requested under freedom of information laws by the Australian Centre for International Justice and shared with the ABC reveal the $3.2 million investmentin shares by the Future Fund – the $60.5 billion fund set up in 2006 to create returns for the Australian Government.
It comes after the same Adani company – Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones (Adani Ports) – was criticised by the UN for business arrangements that financially support the Myanmar military, which stands accused of the “gravest” crimes against humanity under international law, including genocide.
Rawan Arraf, a human rights lawyer at the Australian Centre for International Justice who submitted the FOI request, said the Future Fund should divest all of its holdings from Adani Ports because of these links to the Myanmar military.
The revelation has also prompted environmentalists who have campaigned against Adani’s Carmichael coal mine to take aim at the Future Fund.
“Building a new thermal coal mine is the opposite of what we need to be doing to tackle the climate crisis,” said Pablo Brait from Market Forces, a group that has fought to hinder the economic viability of the coal mine.
A spokeswoman for Adani said: “The Adani Group takes seriously the Human Rights Council’s fact-finding report and its concerns about protecting the human rights of all people in Myanmar.”
Despite Bowen Rail Company not publicly mentioning Adani, it is entirely owned by Adani Ports.
That linked the Adani subsidiary directly to the Carmichael mine for the first time, making it a major target for activists.
In a letter to Future Fund chairman and former Australian treasurer Peter Costello dated November 23, Australian Conservation Foundation boss Kelly O’Shanassy said the shareholding in Adani Ports – revealed by the FOI – meant the Australian public “may be financing key operations of the Carmichael coal mine”.
She wrote this was not only “environmentally unjustifiable”, but also presented reputational and financial risks for the Future Fund in light of the decade-long public campaign against the mine and increasing divestment from coal.
“The Future Fund would be wise to heed the warnings about the Carmichael mine and review its investment in Adani Ports,” she wrote.
“We urge you to remove this equity holding from the Future Fund’s portfolio.”
Mohammad Junaid is from the community organisation Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia. He came to Australia with his family as a refugee and is now an engineer.
Mr Junaid said he was shocked the Future Fund has invested in a company doing business with the Myanmar military.
“Our message is simple, stop funding the pockets of the military which has allowed them to commit genocide against my people,” he said.
The Adani spokeswoman said the deal with MEC went ahead after “extensive due diligence”.
“While some nations, including Australia, have arms embargos and travel restrictions on key members of the military in place, this does not preclude investment in the nation or business dealings with corporations such as MEC,” the spokeswoman said.
She said the Myanmar operations had nothing to do with the Australian operations of Adani, which “operate under Australian law and regulations”.
“The Adani Group’s vision is to help build critical infrastructure for nations across key markets and help in propelling economic development and social impacts,” the spokeswoman said.