NEW DELHI, March 2 (PTI): Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a known backer of Adani Group’s coal mine projects in his country, on Thursday came out in support of the embattled group’s chairman Gautam Adani, saying he has a lot of admiration and respect for the tycoon and his company.
Abbott, who had in 2015 as the Prime Minister of Australia decried a court ruling against Adani Group’s Carmichael coal mine project, said the relevant regulators will “do their job” regarding any allegation of wrongdoing by the apples-to-airport conglomerate.
As much as USD 140 billion of the market value of the conglomerate’s listed companies was wiped out after US short seller Hindenburg Research on January 24 accused the Adani empire of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud” and using a number of offshore shell companies to inflate stock prices. Adani Group has denied all allegations and called them an attack on India.
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Adani and Adani Group,” Abbott said at a media briefing here.
The coal produced from Adani’s Carmichael mines in Australia “will certainly be part of the ongoing process of electrification here in India”.
“I am all in favour of Adani mine. I thank Adani and his team for what they have done to provide electricity to Indians and jobs and prosperity to Australia,” he said.
In 2015, when a local court revoked the environmental approval for the Adani building one of the world’s largest coal mine in Queensland, Abbot had stated that it was “tragic for a wider world” if legal safeguards are allowed to stall large mining projects. The group, in 2019, received the final and last approval for the project and coal mined from Carmichael is routinely shipped to Indian power plants to produce electricity.
On the allegations by Hindenburg Research, Abbott said that he has not seen the details of the report and “I assume if there is anything in them, the relevant corporate regulators will do their job”.
“As far as I am concerned, I regard Adani as a benefactor to Australia and I admire his success in building up a very large diverse business empire from scratch,” he said.
On India-Australia trade relations, he said the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) implemented between the two countries would help boost economic ties and bilateral trade.
“The existing FTA is good… can it be further developed? Yes, it can (be) and my understanding is that the trade ministers (of both the countries) will start discussions in coming days (on expanding the scope of the existing trade deal),” he said.
Abbott also said that businesses of both sides should formulate strategies to take advantage of the agreement.
“I will make it my personal mission… to make India a much more important strategic partner of Australia than China,” the former Prime Minister said.
In recent times, he said it was observed that China is using trade as a weapon against Australia and India would never do anything like that.
“India is always going to be a much more reliable economic partner (than China),” he said.