It’s with great pleasure that I introduce you to the one, the only, the glorious Yakka Skink.
Conservation status: Vulnerable.
Cuteness status: Indisputable.
Coal’s care factor: Negligible.
Before I tell you how Adani’s plans will impact this beautiful skink, here’s a little skinkfo for you to digest:
- You’ll only know these secretive smooth boys are nearby if you’ve got a sharp eye for poop spotting! They prefer to hide out in hollow logs, under rocks, or in deep burrows.
- Yakka skinks are about the size of a bluey and have a gorgeous broad, dark stripe running down their back, which is lined by a lighter, thinner stripe on either side.
- Mama skinks pop out around six live babies in one go!
Sadly, Adani doesn’t care for this skink.
The road widening, water sucking, forest clearing, coal mining, and wasteful infrastructure projects Adani wants to undertake will all irreversibly damage the Yakka Skink’s habitat, which the Carmichael Coal Mine project is located directly inside of.
Years ago, the aptly named Greg Hunt (our former environment minister) was required to take advice from his department regarding how the Carmichael Coal Mine And Rail Project would affect threatened species that live in and around the mining area.
Thanks to a bold legal challenge by the Mackay Conservation Group in January 2015, Minister Hunt had to admit a few months later that he’d fucked up and the proper process for protecting the Yakka Skink wasn’t followed.
If only that was the end of the story.
The battle was won, but the war on skinks rages on.
Adani chalked the skink’s fate up to “regrettable technical legal error”, and successfully re-submitted their proposals.
Now, in 2018, it looks like the mine is going ahead anyway, with the Queensland government approving three mining leases, and the federal government giving the Indian mining behemoth the go-ahead to start ‘controlled action’ subject to conditions.
And, to sweeten the deal, the QLD government has given Adani a 60-year unlimited water extraction licence – despite the fact, 58% of the state is in a drought!
That’s right, they’ve got permission to use 12.5 billion litres of river water every year – almost as much as the combined 15 billion litres all the other stakeholders including farmers are allowed to use. Now all Adani needs to start pumping out water is approval for their accompanying pipeline project, and a full environmental impact statement isn’t even required!
There is, however, a silver lining to this skinky cloud of doom.
While Australia’s biggest open-cut and underground mine project is still on the cards, this month Adani announced it is dropping the plan to build a 388km rail line from the Carmichael mine to Abbot Point, saying it will “leverage existing rail infrastructure” instead.
Whether this reflects the company’s realisation that there’s a massive decline in the feasibility of coal mining in our current economic (and literal) climate, remains to be seen.
We do know, however, that Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan, his LNP cronies, and the QLD Labor government all continue to support the mine.
So, it’s up to us to keep putting the pressure on our government to stop Adani.
Sent a letter to your local member. Protest. Interrupt the trains.
And ask everyone you know:
Won’t someone think of the skinks?!