Indian mining giant Adani, which is developing the massive Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, won’t be delaying an investment decision because of a hold-up of native title laws in the Senate.
The company was advised by Labor leader Bill Shorten on Thursday afternoon that the opposition would support the laws when they came to a vote in mid-June.
“Though the failure of the Senate to pass the amendments today will mean some delays in some early works, the company remains on track to make the crucial financial decision this month,” an Adani spokesman told AAP on Thursday.
Mr Shorten’s commitment would be considered by the Adani board when it met later in the month for a final investment decision.
The legislation amends the Native Title Act to resolve legal uncertainty around more than 120 indigenous land use agreements relating to major projects, including the $21 billion Carmichael mine.
Attorney-General George Brandis moved to suspend the Senate’s schedule on Thursday morning to bring on the debate, with the potential for a Friday sitting to get a final vote.
But the government lost the vote 35-33, meaning the legislation won’t pass until the Senate returns in mid-June.
“The Labor party said they support the legislation and amendments yet they voted with the Greens against having the bill finally dealt with by the parliament this week,” Senator Brandis told AAP after the vote.
“This is a flagrant breach of their undertaking to enable the parliament to deal with the legislation as soon as possible.”
The Queensland Labor government has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asking the bill be passed as a matter of urgency.
Indigenous leader and former ALP president Warren Mundine said it was wrong to drag out the vote.
Mr Mundine said at the end of the day the people suffering the most are indigenous people, then the wider Australian economy because of the hold-up of jobs and development.
The coalition party room approved amendments to the bill on Tuesday and senators were informed of the procedural move by the government on Thursday morning.
Indigenous Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy accused the government of disrespecting traditional owners by rushing through changes without consultation.
“Here you are wanting to make a piece of legislation to amend a profound act, an important act,” she said.
“Let me tell you – it’s not going to happen.”
Greens senator Rachel Siewert accused the government of ignoring issues with the proposed changes.
“They want to rush this through so Adani can go ahead with their dirty coalmine,” she said.
Senators debated the bill on Thursday afternoon.