MEDIA RELEASE 23 October 2016 |
Rockhampton-based Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Matt Canavan “is feigning concern for Aboriginal people while relying on misleading media stories this weekend which attempt to discredit the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners council and our rejection of the proposed Adani Carmichael mine”, said Adrian Burragubba, senior Traditional Owner and spokesperson for the W&J council.
Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “We are self-determined and stand independently – and we have said ‘no’ to Adani and their Government backers more times than we should have to and Canavan is using us to serve his own self-interest.
“Hiding behind one W&J applicant, who is named as one of seven who received funds from Adani in a deal to attempt to overturn our decisions, shows nothing but contempt for our concerns. We have taken our concerns to the courts in a series of current cases, to the public, and to the United Nations.
“Minister Canavan pretends that there are loads of jobs or money in a deal with Adani that would benefit our people. The fact is Adani’s offers have always been insulting and meagre compensation for the total destruction of our land, waters and heritage. And we have rejected them and will fight their imposition.
“Adani’s much touted Indigenous Participation Plan talks in big headline numbers but would deliver the equivalent to Aboriginal people in the region of about $5000 a person per year. And their grossly inflated jobs numbers would amount to no more than 30 minimum wage, dead-end, jobs for our people if the mine ever got to full production.
“This is not a future for Aboriginal people, it’s a scam,” Mr Burragubba said.
Just last week, in his ‘End of Mission Statement’ on his visit to Australia, Michel Forst, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said that Indigenous rights defenders “face lack of cooperation or severe pressure from the mining industry with regard to project activities, as has been exemplified in the case of the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine in central-western Queensland.”
Mr Forst identifies a pattern of the business and resource industry “portraying landowners, environmental human rights defenders and watchdogs as activists who obstruct economic development of the country. Mining and extractive industry has been reported as the most aggressive, sometimes exerting excessive pressure against indigenous peoples trying to protect their land, environment or cultural heritage”.
The Rapporteur said that “many indigenous human rights defenders still experience severe disadvantages compared with non-indigenous defenders. They are marginalised and unsupported by state and territory governments” and the Commonwealth government uses “the federal system as limitation on its ability to exercise responsibility for supporting indigenous rights defenders”. He said that our “right to free, prior and informed consent is not protected under Australian law, and government officials frequently fail to meaningfully consult and cooperate with indigenous and community leaders”.
“Minister Canavan continues to prosecute an argument which has been made against us for nearly two years now, that we are in the pocket of the environment movement. It is baseless and false and we have said so in evidence and statements submitted to the Federal Court,” Mr Burragubba said.
“We prefer to have these matters dealt with in the Courts where a factual and objective account can be made and not in the media where the conspiratorial minds of those who look to discredit us, and would defeat our rights and see our country smashed for the profits of a foreign coal mining company, are given voice.
“We welcome all those who genuinely support us in our long struggle to defend our human rights and protect our country from Governments and rapacious resource companies. We are a stand-alone group of people who are holding firm against a mine that is going to destroy our traditional homelands. This is why we look to the United Nations and others who will respect our self-determination and our right to protect our country,” Mr Burragubba said.
Available for interview: Adrian Burragubba, Senior spokesperson
For more information and to arrange interviews: Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor – 0418 152 743
W&J website: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/