A Great Barrier Reef conservation organisation has ended its partnership with bus company Greyhound just hours after Guardian Australia revealed the company’s contract at the controversial Adani coal project in Queensland.
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation held an emergency board meeting at 8am today, where its chairman Alex de Waal, who is the chief executive of Greyhound Australia, resigned.
Guardian Australia revealed that Greyhound had written to all its staff on 6 January, alerting them to the contract to transport workers constructing the Adani mine’s railway that will move the coal from the Galilee Basin to Adani’s Abbott Point coal port.
The Adani mine, in Queensland’s untapped Galilee Basin, has begun construction and will extract 10 million tonnes of coal a year for export to power stations.
The coalmine is one of the most controversial resources projects in Australia’s history, and campaigners fear the project could be the first of several to extract the region’s huge coal reserves.
Andy Ridley, chief executive of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, told Guardian Australia: “It was a clear conflict. We acted within hours and the decision was very clear.
“It is a conflict in terms of us working with extractive resources industries and with thermal coal. That was a commercial decision by Greyhound but it clearly conflicts with what we believe is right for the Great Barrier Reef.”
De Waal resigned “within minutes” of the start of the board meeting. Ridley said the foundation had been unaware of Greyhound’s contract with the Adani project until being contacted on Tuesday afternoon for comment.
“We didn’t know,” said Ridley. “The challenge is that we had a good partnership [with Greyhound] and we strongly supported them as a means of transport because of its low footprint and that 40,000 [of their customers] gave us a dollar. We will miss that funding.”
In the internal email sent to Greyhound staff, the company had defended its decision by promoting its partnership with Ridley’s foundation.
De Waal wrote: “Greyhound could become one of many companies in the crossfire of the anti-Adani campaign.”
The email revealed the company, which has more than 600 staff, had won a three-month contract “with an opportunity for extension” to move workers for construction firm BMD, which is building the mine’s railway from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point.
“The project may create concerns to individual team members in light of the international political, environmental, social and economic debate about climate change under way in the media,” the email read.
A seperate public relations plan prepared for Greyhound, also seen by Guardian Australia, had produced a series of potential questions that could be aimed at the company’s chief executive, and had offered media training to respond to them.
One question that De Waal should be prepared to answer, the PR plan said, was: “Surely you will resign as chairman of the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and/or Greyhound Australia given your conflict of interest?”
Greyhound Australia said it had no comment on the decision.