Adani’s attack on Aboriginal leader morally reprehensible

MEDIA STATEMENT
Sunday 30 December 2018

Traditional Owners support leader, Adrian Burragubba

Adani’s bankruptcy petition is corporate bullying, abuse of process

W&J call on Qld Government to investigate Adani’s sham dealings

Adani are out to punish the Traditional Owner leading the fight against their Carmichael Mine and the opening up of the Galilee Basin. In a show of abject moral failure and corporate bullying, Adani has instituted bankruptcy proceedings against W&J leader and spokesperson Adrian Burragubba, simply for retribution, said W&J Traditional Owners Family Council chairperson Linda Bobongie.

“Our people will stand with Mr Burragubba at this trying time. He is a courageous leader who has put our people, country and cultural heritage before his own and his families personal needs. He speaks for many of the rightful Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou Country and we will not be frightened by Adani’s latest abuse of power.

We have enormous support for our Federal Court appeal against Adani’s rent-a-crowd ILUA. Over 128,000 people have signed our petition and millions of Australians who oppose the Carmichael Mine continue to back our campaign because they also care about Aboriginal rights in this country.

We will prosecute Adani to the limit and make sure they wear their illegitimate claims as a burden upon their brief corporate history in Australia.  But we cannot rely on the legal system alone for justice.

We call on the Queensland Government to urgently inquire into the corruption of process that led to the disputed land deal. We demand that the Queensland Government refrain from any action to support Adani and from extinguishing our native title while investigating this grave injustice.

Queensland Labor has said they recognise that the registration of the Adani ILUA is contested and they acknowledge and respect our right to have our complaints considered and determined by a court. They should underwrite this process to ensure that Adani cannot bankrupt any of the appellants before the matter is heard, and they make proper inquiries of their own.

Adani are trying to prevent justice and hide behind a veil of supposed charity. Nothing could be more sickening than to have this corporate bully lecture us about our own people. They never have the courage to front up. It’s always done through anonymous media spokespeople or high priced lawyers.

We demand to know the Adani bosses who initiated this action. Was it Lucas Dow, the new CEO of Adani Mining, or was it Jeyakumar Janakaraj, CEO & Country Head Australia, or was it Gautam Adani himself who authorised this shameless attack on our people?

We are seeking the assistance of the UN Special Rapporteurs for Indigenous Peoples Rights and for Human Rights Defenders. The heads of corporations like Adani have a responsibility to respect human rights that are protected under international law. These responsibilities exist independently of a country’s abilities or willingness to fulfil its own obligations with respect to the rights of Indigenous peoples. We expect Adani’s bosses to answer for their actions.

Adani has no moral claim over us, and no legitimate claim for money. Their deceit is practiced. From the hollow protest about a vote of 294 – 1, as though this is believable, and Traditional Owners property rights and human rights can be wiped out forever by a one-off stacked meeting; to employing or contracting with people who oversaw the collapse of our $1m trust fund, such as Ms Irene Simpson and Mr Patrick Malone, directors of Cato Galilee, which entered into an unauthorised Memorandum of Understanding with Adani; to the PR exercises on jobs and partnership with ‘fake W&J people’. (Tony Johnson who appears in this Adani video is from the Gooreng Gooreng Nation on the Port Curtis Coast).

Adani claims to have a valid ILUA with the W&J people yet have failed to engage the authorised native title party at any time in more than two years, and have not paid $1.3m they are obligated to under the terms of their own contract.

Adani would bankrupt our people, prop up those who would breach our trust, and withhold what they owe just to score a cheap political point.

Our people will continue to seek justice in the face of this profound inequity. We will call on all First Nations people, and members of the Australian and international communities for support. And we will challenge the decision of Justice Reeves because we know the Adani ILUA is a gross distortion of the will of the W&J People”, Ms Bobongie concluded.

Background

  • The cost orders that Adani is seeking to enforce relate to the primary judgment and appeal run in 2015 and 2016 against the compulsory issuing of mining leases to Adani. It is indisputable that these leases were issued without the consent of Traditional Owners. An ILUA had been rejected twice by the claim group at that time.
  • While the judicial review and appeal were unsuccessful, they established beyond doubt that “the native title party did not indicate its support or consent to the grant of the mining leases”. [Adani Mining Pty Ltd and Another v Adrian Burragubba, Patrick Malone and Irene White on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou People [2015] NNTTA 16 (08 April 2015)]
  • The recent Security of Cost order for $50,000 in the appeal against Justice Reeves’ primary decision is a separate matter. The money will be paid to ensure the appeal proceeds. Justice Robertson ruled that there is “an arguable case of error” in the primary judge’s decision on the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA.
  • Justice Reeves decision in Bygraves 2 was overturned in 2017 by the full bench of the Federal Court, leading to the invalidity of the Adani ILUA under the law. It was only rescued by the Federal Government through the ‘Adani amendments’ to the Native Title Act. There remain grounds upon which the Adani ILUA is contested and the full bench of the Federal Court will hear the matter in May 2019.

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For more information contact:
Anthony Esposito, Adviser
0418 152 743

 

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