Climate-mining debate must respect regions

Matt Canavan has branded an engineering firm 'weak as piss" after it severed ties with Adani.
Matt Canavan has branded an engineering firm 'weak as piss" after it severed ties with Adani.

Business groups say people in regional Australia must be listened to amid debate over the impact of the resources sector on climate change.

Engineering firm Aurecon has signalled it will stop working for Indian mining giant Adani once its project at Queensland's Abbot Point coal terminal is over.

It also ruled out working on any other Adani group projects.

The move followed pressure from climate activists, who have targeted not only Adani's Carmichael mine but other projects by the global resources giant.

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan described Aurecon as "weak as piss" and a "bunch of bedwetters".

However, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott was more diplomatic, pointing to the broader issue of support for the regions.

"We can't lose sight of what Australians outside the major capital cities want in their regions, and that's to strike a balance between investment, jobs and the environment," she told AAP on Thursday.

"It's important their voices are also heard in the debate."

Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane said jobs in regional areas and the revenue from mining were crucial.

"It's disappointing to see any business give in to bullying tactics from activists, many of who are acting illegally to disrupt lives and businesses," he said.

"Ultimately every company can make its own business decisions. But it's local workers who will miss out through the lost opportunities of working on new investments and new resources projects."

Senator Canavan told ABC Radio he did not resile from his criticism.

"I'd have a lot more respect for Aurecon if they came out and were just up front and said: 'Look, we can't do this because we're under pressure and we're just too weak'," he said.

"To come out and try to wrap it up as a 'sustainability' decision, give me a break."

An Adani spokesperson said in a statement the company was surprised by Aurecon's decision and was already in talks to replace it to ensure the mine goes ahead.

"There has been a concerted campaign by extremists against our Carmichael project and businesses that partner with us," the statement read.

"It has not succeeded and construction of the Carmichael project is well and truly under way."

Australian Associated Press