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Adani: always read the fine print

Summary:
Keeping up its flow of announcements, Adani just claimed that it had received 15 000 expressions of interest in jobs at its Carmichael mine, 1500 of them from Townsville alone, “since Adani called for expressions of interest in December.” (Townsville Bulletin, paywalled) That seemed impressive, and I wondered if all those applications had actually been received since December, as claimed in the Bulletin report. After all, Adani’s “jobs portal” was set up in 2017, and has been accepting registrations ever since. Given that Adani has announced the imminent start of work on the project several times, it seems likely at least some of those who expressed interest in the past have found better opportunities and moved on. So, are the 15000 expressions of interest all current? I

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Keeping up its flow of announcements, Adani just claimed that it had received 15 000 expressions of interest in jobs at its Carmichael mine, 1500 of them from Townsville alone, “since Adani called for expressions of interest in December.” (Townsville Bulletin, paywalled)

That seemed impressive, and I wondered if all those applications had actually been received since December, as claimed in the Bulletin report. After all, Adani’s “jobs portal” was set up in 2017, and has been accepting registrations ever since.

Given that Adani has announced the imminent start of work on the project several times, it seems likely at least some of those who expressed interest in the past have found better opportunities and moved on. So, are the 15000 expressions of interest all current?

I looked through quite a few links, f which seemed to endorse Adani’s claim of a jobs rush, but finally found one with precise numbers, at the website of Bundaberg radio station 4BU, which led me to check the Adani website, where I found the press release on which the stories were based. At the bottom of its press release, Adani says (emphasis added)

In December Adani advertised for expressions of interest for people wanting to work at the project. When the December numbers were added to previous registrations, the total was 14,498.

Here’s a report from February 2018, where Adani stated that it had already received 11500 applications of which 18 per cent (about 2000) came from Townsville. The Townsville number is higher than the one they are currently claiming, suggesting that some applications must have lapsed or been withdrawn.

Given these figures, it’s impossible to tell how many applications Adani has received in the two months since it reannounced that it would be taking expressions of interest. Almost certainly, it’s a lot less than the headline figures announced in their release.

That’s not to say that there aren’t still plenty of people attracted by Adani’s promise of thousands of jobs. But it does confirm that, when reporting on Adani, it always pays to check the fine print.

John Quiggin
He is an Australian economist, a Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a former member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government.

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