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Adani defends 'demands' for names of CSIRO scientists

ADANI has defended its decision to request the names of all federal agency scientists reviewing its controversial groundwater plans after environmental group Lock The Gate obtained emails containing the requests under Freedom of Information laws.

The ABC reported the Indian mining giant demanded the names so it could check if they were "anti-coal" activists.

The emails show Adani gave the federal environment department five days to provide "a list of each person from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia involved in the review".

In a statement, an Adani Mining spokeswoman said it was bound by the statutory approvals processes and reasonably expected to be treated in a "fair manner".

"Adani wrote to the federal environmental regulator on January 25, 2019 requesting assurance that individuals involved in any review processes were independent, following concerning reports at the time that the state environmental regulator had commissioned a review which constituted individuals who had expressed anti-coal, anti-mining sentiments," the spokeswoman said.

Adani has also provided a copy of correspondence from Adani representatives to the Department of Environment and Energy on January 25, 2019, which included its request for a list of each person from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia involved in the review of the GDEMP and GMMP.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Adani is not suggesting any bias in relation to these organisations and Adani confirms that it will not contact the individual personnel," the correspondence said.

"Adani simply wants to know who is involved in the review to provide it with peace of mind that it is being treated fairly and that the review will not be hijacked by activists with a political, as opposed to scientific, agenda ..."

The ABC reported the revelation of the request alarmed CSIRO staff representatives, who said it indicated Adani had "a deliberate strategy" to pressure scientists by searching for personal information it could use to try to "discredit their work".

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told the ABC he understood why Adani wanted the names of the government scientists.

"No doubt they wanted to determine that, I suppose, those arguing against their proposals were not just some sort of quasi, anti-development groups or individuals," he said.

But Lock The Gate Queensland spokeswoman Ellie Smith said the documents were evidence of Adani's "heavy-handed tactics" and attempts to undermine the independent scientific assessment process.

"The company has heavied the Queensland Government and journalists ... and now has been caught singling out independent scientists," she said.

"The scientists were clearly disturbed to learn their online profiles were being viewed by Adani - this is unacceptable given the scientists' assessments needed to be totally independent and free of outside influence."

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