Fed Court decision: Adani leases issued despite Traditional Owners’ express rejection

The Queensland State continues to authorise dispossession

Responding to a Federal Court decision today, in one of the long running cases bought by Traditional Owners against the Adani mine, the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners expressed their profound frustration with the way the native title and court processes have over-ridden their decision to reject an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani.

The appeal against the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT), which authorised the issuing of mining leases to Adani by the Queensland Government, was dismissed. The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Representative Council are seeking the advice of their senior counsel as to whether to pursue the matter in the High Court.

In May 2015, Adrian Burragubba, on behalf of W&J Representative Council, sought to uphold the decision of the W&J people in October 2014 to reject an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani, the second time since 2012.

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says, “We have fought and will continue to fight for our right to say no to the destruction of our country through mining and to have our rights properly recognised and respected by the State Government.

“We are proud of our efforts to hold Adani and the Queensland Government to account through the Courts. The Courts are the place we have to pursue justice for our people and we will exhaust all legal avenues in pursuit of our right to self-determination and our right to give or withhold consent.

“Today’s decision hangs on the technical limits of judicial review of the issuing of leases for the Carmichael mine, and not the embodiment of our rights. We will redouble our commitment to uphold the original decisions of our people which are to oppose this mine of mass destruction.

“We now look to our trial in March 2018 which focuses on Adani’s fake ILUA. We have three times voted No to Adani’s grubby deal.

“Despite the entirely valid rejection of an ILUA by the W&J claim group in October 2014, Adani persisted. First by seeking a ruling from the NNTT to ignore our native title rights. Adani has actively worked to split our group. The ugliest display by Adani was to bankroll a sham meeting that they hold up as authorising an ILUA.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Murrawah Johnson, says, “Adani and the State Government didn’t ‘negotiate’ and achieve the free, prior, informed consent of the W&J people. Instead Adani, backed by the State Government and past NNTT decisions, relied on the threat that they would compulsorily take our land.

“The meeting, that all these Adani supporters cite where the purported majority voted for the ILUA 294 to 1, is not a true expression of the W&J Traditional Owners. Over 220 of that meeting’s attendees are people that are not Wangan and Jagalingou people according to our law and custom. They have never been involved in the W&J claim or decision making, and are identified with other people and claims.  They were bussed in and paid for at Adani’s considerable expense, while hundreds of the rightful W&J Traditional Owners refused to attend this sham meeting.

“Our Traditional Owners Council, including representatives of 9 of the 12 apical families, has upheld the original decisions of the W&J claim group to reject an ILUA with Adani, and has followed through on the mandate given to it which is to reject a land deal with Adani.

“We will not stand by while a campaign is waged against us by the mining lobby to discredit our representatives, to compel us to accept a deal we don’t want, and to take away our rights to our ancestral lands and waters by legal compulsion.

“We will continue to expose the unfair and underhanded way in which Aboriginal people are stripped of their rights in this country when they say no to mining. There is no greater battlefront for this than coal mining in Queensland.

Legal representative in the case, Benedict Coyne, says, “Our client is carefully considering the judgement, and prospects of further appeal for special leave to the High Court of Australia.” 

 

For more legal comment:

Contact Benedict Coyne, Anderson Fredericks Turner  – 0434 915 713.

For more background, and to arrange interviews with W&J Council spokespeople:

Contact Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

Traditional Owners fighting Adani undeterred by Qld Court outcome

“Where there’s mining there is no justice”

Responding to a Supreme Court decision in Brisbane today, Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine say that yet again the Queensland Government and Adani have benefited from laws designed to suppress Aboriginal peoples’ rights.

The Queensland Court of Appeal today upheld an earlier decision that the Queensland Minister for Mines did not have to afford Wangan and Jagalingou people natural justice when he issued the mining leases for Adani’s Carmichael Mine. The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council is now seeking legal advice on grounds to appeal to the High Court.

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says, “Where there’s mining there is no justice for Traditional Owners. The mineral resources regime so often puts massive barriers in the way of Traditional Owners and the wider community which opposes coal mining in Queensland.

“We appealed the decision of Queensland Mines Minister, Anthony Lynham MP,  to issue leases over our country to Adani, only to find our common law right to natural justice is of little worth. We have always aimed higher than this in pursuit of our rights. We are not deterred by today’s outcome.

“The Court decision has let the Minister get away with sacrificing our heritage and sacred places to promote his own political interests.

“Instead of standing up for our rights in the lands and water of our ancestors, in April 2016 the Queensland Government preferred not to wait for our fight to be resolved in the Federal Court court and instead issued leases to Adani.

“Adani is a company that has no money, is subject to investigations for multi-million dollar corruption and fraud in its own country, and doesn’t have an economically viable project.

“As Traditional Owners we wait more than a decade for our native title claim to be dealt with, while Adani can get a lease quickly, without our consent and with no money for its project.

“We have clearly and unambiguously rejected a land use deal with this shyster company, yet they push on.

“The Minister had no business issuing those mining leases. Granting the leases is proof that the Queensland Government is in bed with Adani and is willing to take our rights away by force. To add insult to injury, his cavalier decision-making comes with a legal sanction under the Queensland Mineral Resources Act.

“The Queensland government and Adani must understand that they are not in the clear. An appeal still in the full bench of the Federal Court challenges the the Minister’s authority to have issued those leases and completely disregard our refusal to consent to the Carmichael project.

“In Queensland, mining is State development. We know our rights are not protected and that no matter how many times we have said no to Adani, the Government will try to force its way forward and pave the way for this mine of mass destruction.

“We are not done yet. We will exhaust all legal avenues in our fight to for our rights and to protect our country. Adani cannot move on the critical infrastructure for the mine until they can get us out of the way. We have further litigation challenging their fake ‘land use agreement’ in the Court, with a hearing date set for March 2018.

“There will be no surrender. We will stand our ground and never consent to this terrible project. We have consistently said no to this mine. No means no”, Mr Burragubba concluded.

 

For more background, and to arrange interviews with W&J Council spokespeople:

Contact Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

Native Title law now tainted by Adani

MEDIA RELEASE
14 June 2017

Traditional Owners slam passage of Native Title amendments

Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine have expressed profound disappointment at the passage of Attorney General Brandis’ amendments to the Native Title Act, stressing that while Mabo’s legacy has been diminished they will continue to fight for their rights.

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says, “Adani’s problems with the Wangan and Jagalingou people are not solved this week. The trial to decide the fate of Adani’s supposed deal with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners is scheduled for the Federal Court in March 2018.

“Our people are the last line of legal defence against this mine and its corrosive impact on our rights, and the destruction of country that would occur.

“Senator Brandis has been disingenuous in prosecuting his argument for these changes to native title laws, while the hands of native title bureaucrats and the mining lobby are all over the outcome.

“This swift overturning of a Federal Court decision, without adequate consultation with Indigenous people, was a significant move, not a mere technical consideration as the Turnbull Government has tried to make out.

“It is appalling and false for George Brandis to pretend that by holding a ‘workshop’ with the CEOs of the native title service bodies, he has the unanimous agreement of Traditional Owners across Australia. No amount of claimed ‘beseeching’ by the head of the Native Title Council, Glen Kelly, can disguise this.

“The public were not properly informed about the bill, and nor were Indigenous people around the country, who were not consulted and did not consent to these changes.

“We draw the line today. We declare our right to our land. There is no surrender. There is no land use agreement. We are the people from that land. We’re the rightful Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou country, and we are in court to prove that others are usurping our rights”, he said.

Spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, says, “Whatever else this change does, we know that the Turnbull Government went into overdrive for Adani’s interests.

“Brandis’ intervention in our court case challenging the sham ILUA was about Adani. Most of what Senator Matt Canavan had to say in argueing his ill-informed case for native title changes was about Adani. The Chairman of Senate Committee inquiring into the bill, Senator Ian McFarlane, referring to the native title amendments as “the Adani bill” was about Adani. And the PM telling Chairman Gautam Adani that he’d fix native title was about Adani”.

“We are continuing to fight Adani in court and our grounds are strong. If anyone tells you this is settled because the bill was passed, they are lying”, she said.

Adrian Burragubba says, “The Labor Opposition seems to understand this, even though they supported passage of the bill. Senator Pat Dodson went so far as to say this bill does not provide some kind of green light for the Adani mine, as some suggest.

“Pat Dodson acknowledged that W&J have several legal actions afoot against Adani and we are glad that in the midst of this dismal response to the rights of Indigenous people some MPs, including the Greens who voted against the bill, recognise the serious claim we have to justice.

Mr Dodson said in the Senate that: “most of this litigation will be entirely unaffected by the passage of this bill. In particular, there are very serious allegations of fraud that have been made against Adani regarding the processes under which agreements with the Wangan and Jagalingou people were purportedly reached. And those proceedings, which may impact on the validity of any ILUA, will only commence hearings in March next year. Other legal action is also underway, including a case challenging the validity of the licences issued by the Queensland government.”

This week researchers from the University of Queensland released a report titled ‘Unfinished Business: Adani, the state, and the Indigenous rights struggle of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council‘.

For more information and to arrange interviews:  Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

Native Title Bill fails us: Traditional Owners say Adani fight continues

MEDIA RELEASE – 13 June 2017

Native Title Bill fails us: Traditional Owners say Adani fight continues

Canberra, Australia. Traditional Owners fighting the Adani mine say passage of the Native Title Bill through the Senate today will be a further erosion of Mabo’s legacy, with Aboriginal law and custom and the property rights of Traditional Owners being trumped by the interests of miners and the native title bureaucracy.

Adani does not have the consent of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people for its mine. The W&J claim group have three times rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani since December 2012.

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says “Adani’s problems with the Wangan and Jagalingou people will not be solved this week. We maintain our resistance and Adani will still have to contend with us. Adani is going nowhere fast – they don’t have money to fund their mine of mass destruction and they don’t have our consent.

“The trial to decide the fate of Adani’s supposed deal with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners is scheduled for the Federal Court in March 2018, as confirmed by one of Australia’s leading native title lawyers Tony McAvoy SC. This will proceed no matter what happens to these native title changes.  

“We have asked Labor to reconsider its position and for the Cross Benchers not to vote for the bill.

“Nothing has changed since the Bill was last rejected in the Senate in May, with no deeper or broader consultation with Indigenous communities around the country.

“It is clear from recent polling that Aboriginal people have not been informed about these changes or consented to them. The majority do not support the passage of the bill,” Mr Burragubba said.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, says “The Bill abandons a principled commitment by the Parliament to Indigenous peoples’ rights. The major parties have jumped to the beat of the mining lobby and their backers in the native title services sector.

“Settling native title amendments has become synonymous with looking after Adani’s interests, not about good law-making for Indigenous people.

“Adani want the major parties to enable them to take away our rights to say no, to mount legal challenges and resist their destruction of our lands and waters,” Ms Johnson said.

Yesterday senior researchers from the University of Queensland released a report, ‘Unfinished Business: Adani, the state, and the new Indigenous rights struggle of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council‘.

Ms Murrawah Johnson says,, “The Federal Government is complicit in a sham being perpetrated on the Australian public. The new report from the University of Queensland will enable people to better understand the truth behind our legal actions, this Bill and our objection to Adani’s proposed mine.”

For background and interviews: Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743. 


Website Video: No Means No

Background

Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Registered Native Title Claimant, and on behalf of the Traditional Owners Council, are currently in the Federal Court seeking to strike out Adani’s purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA], filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. An ILUA has been opposed by the native title claim group on three occasions since 2012. The ILUA litigation includes four grounds and will be heard in March 2018.

One of the grounds is that Adani does not have a valid ILUA capable of registration, since the law was confirmed in the recent Federal Court decision in McGlade. The Federal Government has been attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to overturn the ruling in McGlade and protect Adani’s interests.

W&J has four legal actions underway in the Federal Court and Qld Supreme Court.


The W&J Council vow to do everything in their power to stop Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine proceeding, and will fight all the way to the High Court if necessary.


Adani’s planned Carmichael mine – the biggest in Australian history – would destroy a vast tract of W&J’s ancestral lands and waters in the Galilee Basin.

 

Traditional Owners fighting Adani mine query Labor’s support for Native Title Bill

MEDIA RELEASE
8 June 2017

Responding to reports that Labor has come to an agreement with the Turnbull government which will see passage of the contentious Native Title Bill in the Senate next week, Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s mine are calling on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to outline what consultation has occurred with Indigenous people which makes his party satisfied the Bill should now become law.

Shadow Minister Assisting for Resources, Mr Tim Hammond, is reported to have told a Perth resources conference today there was now a “settled position” with the Government and that the Opposition envisaged the bill would be passed next week.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says “Labor made a bunch of noise about the failure of the Attorney General to conduct proper grassroots consultation with Aboriginal people on these important changes to native title laws.

“People deserve to hear from Labor what, if anything, has changed since mid May when it refused to vote for Adani’s Native Title Bill because consultation had been so shabby and amendments were all over the shop.

“Until Labor has been provided with evidence by the Turnbull government of appropriate consultation, and the Senate has seen the Bill as proposed, it should refuse to back it,” Mr Burragubba said.

For more information and to arrange interviews: Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

FURTHER BACKGROUND

  • Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Registered Native Title Claimant, and on behalf of the Traditional Owners Council, are currently in the Federal Court seeking to strike out Adani’s purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA], filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. An ILUA has been opposed by the native title claim group on three occasions since 2012. The ILUA litigation includes four grounds and will be heard in March 2018.
  • One of the grounds is that Adani does not have a valid ILUA capable of registration, since the law was confirmed in the recent Federal Court decision in McGlade. The Federal Government has been attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to overturn the ruling in McGlade and protect Adani’s interests.
  • W&J claim group have three times rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani – in December 2012, October 2014 and March 2016. Adani does not have the consent of the Traditional Owners for its mine.
  • This is one of four legal actions W&J have underway in the Federal Court and in the Queensland Supreme Court.
  • The W&J Council vow to do everything in their power to stop Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine proceeding, and will fight all the way to the High Court if necessary.
  • Adani’s planned Carmichael mine – the biggest in Australian history – would destroy a vast tract of W&J’s ancestral lands and waters in the Galilee Basin.

Adani ‘investment decision’ meaningless without Indigenous consent

MEDIA RELEASE – 6 June 2017

Federal Court sets date for W&J litigation against Adani’s sham ILUA for March 2018

Native Title Bill still to pass, but won’t stop court action

On the day the Federal Court sets a hearing date for Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council has labelled Adani’s announcement in Townsville as disingenuous.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says “Adani can put on whatever song and dance they like but the reality is that we have never consented to Adani’s mine being constructed on our land.

“The company and the Queensland Government do not have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with our people. We are fighting this mine of mass destruction, and no matter what the Senate does in its next sitting in terms of voting for the Native Title Bill, the Federal Court will hear our case against Adani’s phony deal.”

“Adani is going nowhere fast. They have no money for their project, and they don’t have the crucial Traditional Owners’ consent they need to build it. We have them in the Federal Court until March 2018 at least.”

Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Registered Native Title Claimant are currently in the Federal Court seeking to strike out Adani’s purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA], filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. An ILUA has been opposed by the native title claim group on three occasions since 2012.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, giving a keynote address at the National Native Title Conference in Townsville tomorrow, says “Adani’s approach seems to be ‘fake it until you make it’, but the reality is that they can’t and won’t proceed in the face of our resistance”.

The Federal Court case will bring forward evidence to demonstrate that Adani did not negotiate and achieve the free prior informed consent of the W&J people. In fact, the meeting, which Adani and its barrackers claim achieved consent, with a 294 to 1 vote, is not a true expression of the W&J Traditional Owners.

Over 220 of the attendees at Adani’s meeting are people who have never been involved in the W&J claim or decision making, and who are identified with other nations and claims, or didn’t identify an apical descent line.

Many people were bussed in and paid for at Adani’s considerable expense. The majority of the claim group, which have three times rejected an ILUA with Adani, refused to participate in this stitch up of a meeting. Many members of the claim group stayed away.

For more information and to arrange interviews:

Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

BACKGROUND : The ILUA litigation

  • W&J are seeking Federal Court orders to strike out the purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA] filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. The ILUA would authorise ‘extinguishment’ of native title and allow the mine to proceed. The ILUA litigation includes four grounds and will be heard in March 2018

  • One of the grounds is that Adani does not have a valid ILUA capable of registration, since the law was confirmed in the recent Federal Court decision in McGlade. The Federal Government has been attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to overturn the ruling in McGlade and protect Adani’s interests.

  • W&J claim group have three times rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani – in December 2012, October 2014 and March 2016. Adani does not have the consent of the Traditional Owners for its mine.

  • This is one of four legal actions W&J claimants have underway in the Federal Court and in the Queensland Supreme Court.

  • The W&J Council vow to do everything in their power to stop Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine proceeding, and will fight all the way to the High Court if necessary.

  • Adani’s planned Carmichael mine – the biggest in Australian history – would destroy a vast tract of W&J’s ancestral lands and waters in the Galilee Basin.

Brandis intervenes in W&J court action against Adani

Traditional Owners fighting Adani appalled at improper political interference

The Attorney General, George Brandis, has intervened in a Federal Court hearing in which the Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s proposed coal mine are seeking to strike out a fake agreement Adani claims to have for the mine to proceed.

Senator Brandis’ intervention follows his second failure to rush through changes to the Native Title Act. The Attorney General has asked the Court to not make a ruling, but wait for the political process around the Native Title Bill to conclude. The Bill has not passed the Senate because of a lack of consultation with Traditional Owners around the country, and concern about key provisions.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, said, “The Attorney General has made an extraordinary and political intervention in matters before the court. Intervening in our case shows Brandis is working in billionaire Adani’s interests, not ensuring the proper administration of justice. Again, Brandis is making Native Title all about Adani’s mine instead of good law reform.

“Brandis should apply himself to good law reform, and let the court do its work. Instead he’s trying to influence the decisions of a judge in favour of a mining company.

“The Wangan and Jagalingou Council are seeking Federal Court orders to strike out the purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA] filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. The ILUA would authorise ‘extinguishment’ of our native title and allow the mine to proceed against our strong objections and our right to say ‘No’.

“The Federal Government has been attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to overturn the ruling in McGlade and protect Adani’s interests. Along with other Traditional Owners, we  continue to demand proper consultations and the necessary time to achieve consent for Native Title amendments”, he said.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said, “Adani didn’t negotiate and achieve the free prior informed consent of the W&J people. The meeting, which Adani and its barrackers claim achieved consent, with a 294 to 1 vote, is as fake as its ILUA. It is not a true expression of the W&J Traditional Owners.

“Over 220 of the attendees at Adani’s meeting are people who have never been involved in the W&J claim or decision making, and who are identified with other nations and claims, or didn’t identify an apical descent line.

“Many people were bussed in and paid for at Adani’s considerable expense. The majority of the claim group, which have three times rejected an ILUA with Adani, refused to participate in this stitch up of a meeting. They stayed away.” she said.

Lawyer for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Mr Colin Hardie, said, “My clients have four strong grounds against Adani’s purported ILUA. Since the law was confirmed in the recent Federal Court decision in McGlade, Adani do not even have a document that could be considered for registration.

“This is no mere technical hitch, but a fundamental failure of Adani to gain the consent of many of the families and primary Traditional Owners for their proposed mine. The absence of signatures on the document is because applicants were exercising their consciences and following the mandate to reject the deal, given to them by their families and the claim group on three occasions”.

For more information and to arrange interviews:

Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

 

BACKGROUND

The ILUA litigation

  • W&J are seeking Federal Court orders to strike out the purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA] filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. The ILUA would authorise ‘extinguishment’ of native title and allow the mine to proceed. This is one of four legal actions W&J have underway.
  • The ILUA litigation includes four grounds; one of which is that Adani does not have a valid ILUA capable of registration, since the law was confirmed in the recent Federal Court decision in McGlade. The Federal Government has been attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to overturn the ruling in McGlade and protect Adani’s interests.
  • The Attorney-General intervened under s 84A(1) of the Native Title Act 1993 saying “the Court should not determine the issue raised by the Applicants’ primary argument until the fate of the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is known”.
  • W&J claim group have three times rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani – in December 2012, October 2014 and March 2016. Adani does not have the consent of the Traditional Owners for its mine.
  • The W&J Council vow to do everything in their power to stop Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine proceeding, and will fight all the way to the High Court if necessary.
  • Adani’s planned Carmichael mine – the biggest in Australian history – would destroy a vast tract of W&J’s ancestral lands and waters in the Galilee Basin.

Native Title Amendment Bill & the McGlade decision:

The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is designed to overturn the Federal Court Full Bench McGlade decision, which upheld the Native Title Act requirement that all applicants are needed to sign a land use agreement, after members of the Noongar peoples went to the Federal Court over failures in the process involving a $1.3B settlement agreement with the WA government.

Link to the Court documents of AG Brandis’ intervention here.

Senate frustrates Government’s push to pass Native Title Bill

Traditional Owners fighting Adani heartened by Senate’s defence of native title, deferred vote on changes

Despite the Prime Minister recently reassuring billionaire Gautam Adani that he will ‘fix’ native title laws to enable Adani’s controversial mine to go ahead, the Turnbull Government failed in the Senate again today, with its Native Title Amendment Bill being pushed off to June.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Burragubba, said “The Senate blew the Government’s cover on the false urgency it has been relying on to push the Bill through. It is clear that there is no immediate threat to Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) from the recent Federal Court McGlade decision.

“The Wangan and Jagalingou Council are heartened that our right to object to a land use agreement over our lands, because our common law native title is threatened with extinguishment, has gained recognition in the Federal Parliament.

“Opposition and Greens Senators spoke clearly and strongly about the need to put the native title rights of Traditional Owners ahead of all other interests, including mining, when making changes to the Native Title Act.

“The Opposition rightly castigated the Government’s contempt for native title and for greatly exaggerating the urgency for changes. It described consultations with Traditional Owners as inept.

“With the Bill now delayed until the June sitting of Parliament we can make sure our concerns are properly heard in the native title debate. Important native title reform should occur with a much higher degree of respect and regard for the rights of Traditional Owners than the incompetent farce this Government has dished up”, he said.

During debate on the Bill in the Senate, the W&J Council’s strong interests in the native title changes were acknowledged. So too were the several legal actions we have underway against Adani Mining’s purported ILUA, and the issuing of mining leases by the Queensland Government, in a dishonest attempt to override our refusal to surrender our native title.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said, “The Government has again failed to pass the changes to the Native Title Act it has been seeking in its clamour to back the Adani mine.

“The Coalition has worked furiously to fast-track these amendments to overturn the recent McGlade decision in the Federal Court, which render Adani’s purported land use agreement incapable of registration.

“The Turnbull government has treated our native title as worthless and ignored the wishes of the Australian people in trying to push through this bill. We have had immense support from thousands of Australians who have implored the Parliament not to mess with our rights and those of Traditional Owners around the country.

“This reflects a recent national poll which showed that nearly two-thirds of Australians believe that where Traditional Owners are opposed to Adani’s mine being being built on their lands, State and Federal governments should wait for consent rather than push ahead with the mine.

“The Senate made it clear this bill shouldn’t be about a coal mine, that it is about the rights of Traditional Owners to their lands and waters. Quite rightly, Labor and the crossbench have rejected the Government’s attempts to ram these changes through without proper consultation and consent,” she said.

For more information and to arrange interviews:

Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

BACKGROUND

List of legal cases:

1. Adani ILUA. Federal Court: Delia Kemppi & Ors v Adani Mining Pty Ltd & Ors. Application for a declaration. Directions hearing, 18 May 2017.

2. Carmichael Mining Lease. Qld Court of Appeal: Adrian Burragubba & Ors v Minister for Natural Resources and Mines & Ors. Appeal hearing, 11 May 2017.

3. NNTT authorisation. Federal Court: Adrian Burragubba v State of Queensland & Ors. Full bench Appeal. Decision pending.

4. S66B. Federal Court: Adrian Burragubba & Ors on Behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou Peoples v State of Queensland & Ors. Appeal. Directions hearing pending.

Native Title Amendment Bill & the McGlade decision:

The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is designed to overturn the Federal Court Full Bench McGlade decision, which upheld the Native Title Act requirement that all applicants are needed to sign a land use agreement, after members of the Noongar peoples went to the Federal Court over failures in the process involving a $1.3B settlement agreement with the WA government.

W&J call on Labor, Greens and Xenophon Senators to hold fast against Govt push on native title vote

Traditional Owners call on Labor, Greens and Xenophon Senators to hold fast against Govt push on native title vote

The Government and the mining lobby are working furiously to overturn the resolve of Labor, the Greens and the Xenophon party, and to bring on a vote this afternoon in the Senate, despite losing a motion to suspend standing orders.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Burragubba, said “The bill has rightly stalled because the Government are making this all about Adani’s mine.

“Just when the debate was finally entering a sensible phase, in which the native title rights of Traditional Owners are viewed as paramount, we have Government Senators making it all about Adani and trying to engineer a last minute vote. The Liberal Chair of the Senate Committee, Senator McDonald, even mistakenly referred to it in debate today as the “Adani Bill”.

“This is an insult. Adani has acted relentlessly against us, and the Government is trying to brush the fact that they are tied up in numerous legal actions by us under the carpet.

“We need our day in Court and Traditional Owners around the country need to know Native Title Act changes are not being driven by Adani and the mining sector and their backers in the Government.

“We have urged the Opposition and crossbench not to help the Government with this abuse of process. The native title issues can be sensibly taken care of in the next sitting of Parliament. We know there is no urgency today except for Adani’s interests”, he said.

 

For more information and to arrange interviews:

Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.

 

Senate should not reward Brandis’ native title bill scam

MEDIA RELEASE
9 May 2017

Proper consultation with Indigenous Leaders needed

Adani shouldn’t determine Native Title reform agenda 

The Attorney General George Brandis has cut corners and conducted a shabby consultation process on the Native Title Bill to be debated in the Senate this Wednesday, failing to include Traditional Owners across Australia, say Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s coal mine in Central Queensland.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “The Attorney General has whipped up a false sense of urgency so he can push through this Bill, which is designed for everyone but the Traditional Owners whose rights it is meant to uphold.

“Brandis has engineered a cursory and limited consultation process which is grossly inadequate for amendments which will have such a significant and long term impact on our rights.

“One short public consultation hearing in Brisbane, and some closed door meetings with some CEOs of native title services and representatives of the mining industry, is an insult when considering the national reach of this Bill.

“The Labor Party, who were the original architects of native title laws under Prime Minister Paul Keating, understood that good native title laws are built on direct consultation with a broad group of Aboriginal leaders, and are meant to right an historic wrong.

“We are encouraged by reports that the Opposition, in this 25th anniversary year of the Mabo decision, is troubled by the Government’s handling of this Bill, and is seeking to ensure proper consultations with Traditional Owners. We have urged all Labor, Green and Xenophon Senators not to pass this bill.

“A host of of pro-Adani supporters, including the Queensland government, some unions, local government mayors, the National Party and the Deputy PM, have been trying to strong-arm Opposition leader Bill Shorten into guaranteeing the bill’s passage.

“Reform of native title laws should not be determined by Indian miner Adani’s interests or timetable, yet the haste with which this bill is being pushed through, and the public statements by the Government at the most senior levels, indicate that Adani’s mine is their key driver,” Mr Burrabubba said.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said, “As Traditional Owners we have a right to determine our own future and make our own decisions about our lands and waters. It is not up to unelected CEOs and lawyers who are talking to the Government.

“The Government has failed to make a case for why this Bill is urgent, or make a convincing argument why it needs to overturn the Federal Court’s decision in McGlade.

“The 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision should be a moment when the government begins a long-overdue national dialogue on far-reaching native title reform. It would be a disgrace if the Government was successful in impeding our rights at this time.

“The National Native Title Council continues to call for the laws to be rushed through. The Council does not have a general mandate to speak on behalf of Traditional Owners, and its ‘sign-off’ is not sufficient to convey the support or otherwise of Traditional Owners for the bill.

“The Government has made no effort to directly inform Traditional Owners about its bill or seek our views. It has instead held closed-door meetings with compliant Native Title Representative Bodies and Native Title Service Providers, who depend of Government funding and authorisation for their operations.

“The Bill should not be put to a vote until these representative bodies immediately undertake a transparent process of consultation with all the Traditional Owners in their areas,” Ms Johnson said.

For more information and to arrange interviews:  

Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.