Anti Adani NGO Campaigns
On 8th May 2014 the Carmichael Coal Mine project, also known as Adani Mining was approved. The Australian government in collaboration with Adani Mining Company was to make the project a reality in Queensland Province. The project received major opposition from Non-Governmental Organizations who took their protests to local leaders and the government. These Anti-Adani protests and campaigns, which the major newspapers and media outlets covered exhaustively, brought with them political repercussions. This project wants to look at the impact of the Anti-Adani campaigns on the voting behavior of the electorates in Queensland, as reported by various media outlets.
Environmental Activism is a term used to refer to environmentalism. Presently, environmental activism goes beyond conservation, by establishing national parks and other protectionists measures, but also champions for implementation of policies that will safeguard the future. Scientific advancements are also subject to environmental activism, which also checks machinery, vehicles, and emissions, in a bid to control green gases emissions (Dell, 2010). Various ecological oppositions have been against projects that would destroy the environment such as the creation of port harbors which can damage coral life or roads that would cross through forests, which would necessitate cutting of trees (Dutta, 2015).
The Government, Law, and The Environment
Laws that have been effected to ensure sustainable developments have often been flouted by governments, which usually place importance on monetary needs over environmental conservation needs. Governments repeatedly undermine protectionist ecological laws to achieve their agenda (Ross, 2010). Protests, similar to Adani campaign have occurred elsewhere, resulting in an overhaul of environmental policies. Turkey has faced similar demonstrations, with protestors opposing unchecked government projects, which lead to the damage of the environment. The Turkish government engaged in the uncontrolled cutting of trees, which contributed to drying up of rivers and a change in weather patterns. Additionally, the government was engaged in the destruction of recreational spaces by invading on their lands, which was opposed by the Turkish citizenry.
NGOs as Government Watchdogs
NGOs play an oversight role over other bodies. Due to their non-profit nature, they tend to have an objective view on development projects would impact people positively (Carroll, 2009). Their analysis of the suitability of projects is not limited to cost-benefit analysis but extends to welfare, environmental and dignity of the projects. Thus, it is not unusual for NGOs to clash with the government over projects, which have large financial returns, but which may have adverse effects on other areas such as health or the environment (Pashollari, 2013). Thus, NGOs have taken up the oversight role, and ensure that governments adhere to set standards. In this line, they have been engaged in protests against government projects that may strain public finances leading to stalling of other critical governmental projects (Lee and Johnson, 2001). NGOs influence public opinion, as they highlight disadvantages that governments conceal from the electorate (Sen and Davala,2002).
Adani Project and Public Opinion Influence
NGOs in Australia opposed the implementation of coal mining. The approach used was to sway and influence public opinion in the country’s upcoming elections, where NGOs pressed for residents to be conscious about their electoral choice, and only elect members who were environmentally aware. The labor party suffered at the polls, partly due to the Adani issue. Pre-polls conducted online indicated that at least 70 % of the electorate was against the project, a factor that was attribute to incessant public campaigns undertaken by NGOs. Pre-polls accuracy has been studied, and tend to match the final outcome. NGOs influenced public opinion by characterizing the government as ignorant of environmental degradation and thus could not protect the country’s interests.
The strategy used by the NGOs has been experienced in other areas where campaigns are used to form public opinion about issues. According to Popkin (1994), voters are reasoning individuals who reason about issues and parties. They observe the world around them and form inferences about it using their premises. They often think about who and what political parties stand for and with this, they elect those who represent or stand for what they, themselves, believe. By understanding how voters reason, then campaigns can be tailored to connect with them.
Further, in the Anti-Adani case, another factor used to sway public opinion in the elections was the large budget allocation, especially with the government planning to construct an expensive railway line, estimated at one billion dollars. Such expenditures as demonstrated by Ramanna et al. (2012), do not augur well with voters. The spending would stretch public finances, and the NGOs have successfully petitioned international banks to decline to fund the project, an approach that has been used by multiple organizations. The project was used to represent imprudent expenditure by the government, thus causing the public to be against it.
The Adani controversy belabored some candidates, while it made it easy for candidates that aligned themselves with the public opinion. Thus, NGOs played an integral role in achieving their agenda, by ensuring that the electorate voted according to best environmental policies that would ensure sustainability and protection of the environment.
The anti-Adani project consistently drove the message that the plant would affect the country economically by obtaining the 1billion dollars to finance their project. They organized rallies and demonstrations urging the federal government and other banks to deny Adani Mining money to fund their project. They also lobby for elected Queensland leaders to do away with 300 million dollars tax break by their State.
The civil society groups also engaged in Propaganda to discredit the integrity of the company. They implied that the company was dealing in shady deals because they had opened accounts in the Cayman Islands claims that they could not ascertain. They also gave it the big company’s syndrome of continuing with little regard for humans. GetUp has on their website a list of suspected atrocities that Adani has committed. They accuse the company of failing to clean up the Mumbai Coast after their coal-carrying ship sunk. They also blame it for employing children and underpaying workers, giving out bribes and causing their workers deaths.
Most of these allegations against the company are largely unproven and do not appear in trusted media outlets. Their sources of information are unverifiable. The important thing to note is that most Australians and especially the residents of Queensland relate and believe in the NGO’s messages. Australians are people who value integrity and humanity making cases of corruption and inhumanity to whip emotions.