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.

Adani faces strong Indigenous fight despite s66B court outcome

 

Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council say there is nothing in today’s court decision on the Native Title Act Section 66B application that will stop them in their fight against Adani in the courts.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, and member of the existing Applicant, Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “The decision today shows how vulnerable the rights of Traditional Owners are when they don’t agree to the destruction of their country by big miners like Adani.

“Adani has actively worked to divide our community, undermine our representatives, and register a sham agreement with our people to pave the way for the destruction of our lands and waters.  

“Today’s judgment is one we will seek leave to appeal. We believe it’s a hollow judgement that ignores important elements of the full bench decision in McGlade regarding the role of native title Applicants on behalf of the claim group.

“We are unhappy with Justice Reeves’ exercise of discretion, which takes as fact matters which are the subject of other litigation regarding the purported Adani ILUA. While we respect that the judge has our native title claim in mind, we also believe the judge was mistaken in thinking today’s decision allows the W&J people to successfully prosecute its land claims.

“This may suit Adani’s interests, but it is bad for our native title, our people, and our lands and waters”, he said.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said, “Adani are pretending this mine is inevitable but it still faces a series of other court cases we are running. We are currently in the Federal Court, working to prove Adani does not in any event have our consent and its land use ‘deal’ is a sham and a cover for the destruction of our country.

“Adani is also before the Queensland Court of Appeal in May, when we challenge the Queensland government’s issuing of mining leases to Adani”.

“This proposed mine project will wreck our land and  waters, and destroy our culture. It will ride roughshod over our rights. It will unleash enormous environmental damage and drive dangerous climate change in the process.

“For years Adani, its lawyers, and Federal and State Governments have worked against us because we have said ‘no’ to the destruction of our lands and waters. They have consistently interfered in our right to self-determination and to free, prior informed consent. Today we stand strong – we will never give up,” Ms Johnson said.

W&J Council is calling for a halt to government backing for the Adani mine, pointing to recent national polling which shows that nearly two thirds (64.1%) of Australians believe the Federal and State governments should not push ahead with Adani’s mine without the consent of Aboriginal traditional owners.

 

For more information and to arrange interviews:  

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

Turnbull offers to sacrifice Aboriginal rights to Adani in an act of national betrayal

 

MEDIA RELEASE – 11 April 2017

The Turnbull government is willing to sacrifice Aboriginal people’s rights in pursuit of a deal with Adani for its proposed coal megamine, sanctioning the destruction of the lands and waters of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) traditional owners. The Prime Minister has courted Gautam Adani with the offer of ‘fixing the native title problem.’ This is an act of national betrayal, says the W&J Traditional Owners Council.   

According to media reports, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is understood to have told the Adani group chairman that the issue of Native Title in Australia will soon be resolved.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “The Prime Minister is another in a long line of political leaders, Federal and State, who are willing to sacrifice Aboriginal peoples’ rights if a profit or a deal is attractive enough. It is extraordinary to have the Prime Minister travelling to India to tell a businessman that he will change the Native Title Act in Australia and undermine our rights so that his destructive project can proceed.

“Mr Turnbull is selling out the country and the Australian people will be horrified that the Prime Minister is in India trading away our rights in an act of national betrayal.

“We call on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to clarify if Labor has done a deal with the Government to support this sell out to Adani”, he said.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said, “The Prime Minister has promised a foreign billionaire and head of a shady industrial conglomerate that he will fix his ‘native title problem’ by changing the law in Australia. We have always maintained that the Government’s rushed changes to the Native Title Act were ‘Adani amendments’. Today the Prime Minister has made it plain that this is another special favour for Adani.

“What the major parties need to understand is that changing the Native Title Act to suit Adani won’t solve Adani’s problems with their dodgy land use deal. The matter is being litigated by W&J traditional owners in the Federal Court and does not rely on the McGlade decision. We are resolved to stop this project, and neither the Prime Minister or any other Adani sycophants will get in our way”, she said.

For more information and to arrange interviews:  

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

Government fails to pass Native Title Bill: Major setback for Adani

 

MEDIA RELEASE – 31 March 2017

The Federal Government should stop pandering to Adani and the minerals councils and get Native Title reform right, say Traditional Owners opposed to the Carmichael coal mine.

The Turnbull Government failed to push through its controversial Native Title Bill by the end of the Parliamentary sitting, despite the Labor Opposition’s readiness to negotiate on the amendments.

The next opportunity for the Federal Senate to consider the Native Title Amendment Bill is the Budget Sitting in early May and, if not then, the next sittings are mid June.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “We have fought hard against this change to the native title law. This is a major setback for Adani and the Qld Government, and their backers in the mining lobby, who thought the amendments would help them circumvent the legal challenge we have mounted to their purported land use agreement.

“The Wangan and Jagalingou council will continue to pursue Adani’s sham land use agreement through our litigation in the Federal Court.

“It is clear this controversial Bill does not sit well with many Labor and crossbench MPs, and the incompetent rush with which Attorney General Brandis went about it added insult to injury.

“While we welcome Labor’s resistance on some elements of the bill, which has prevented its passage through the Senate, it doesn’t diminish their unacceptable support for the key measures.

“The Senate Inquiry’s recommendations, backed by Labor, wind back Aboriginal rights after the Federal Court restored the balance in the Native Title Act. But if the amendments Labor supports are eventually passed, it will strip away protections and hand mining companies like Adani the means to divide and conquer us.

“The Parliament must go back to the drawing board on Native Title reform and deliver a just outcome that protects the integrity of our decision-making and our right to self-determination”, he said.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said,

“The Adani Board is reported to be set to make a decision within the next two weeks on whether to push on with the mine project . But it still faces our court actions. Right now their purported land use agreement is worthless.

“Both major parties back native title changes that would allow the kind of problems we’ve had with Adani and the Qld Government. It’s a situation where traditional owners have the threat of compulsory acquisition of our native title held over our heads, where financial inducements are used to divide our people, and where meetings are stacked to overstate support for proponents.

“The Government, Adani and the mining lobby are overconfident in their power to subordinate the rights of Indigenous peoples. What they don’t understand is how resolved we are, and how much support in the community we have, to defend them.

“Now that the Turnbull Government’s divisive Native Title amendment bill is languishing in the Senate, we will redouble our efforts. We should not have our rights violated by a land use deal we do not agree to, which would open the way to the destruction of our country. We will fight this bill and the Adani mine. Our fight is far from over”, she said.

BACKGROUND: The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is designed to overturn the recent 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 land use agreement with the WA government.

For more information and to arrange interviews:  

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

 

 

Senate Inquiry report tabled: Labor support for Native Title Bill profoundly disappointing

 

MEDIA RELEASE
21 March 2017

Senate Inquiry report tabled: Labor support for Native Title Bill profoundly disappointing

  • Labor abandons support for Aboriginal land rights
  • Major parties clear way for Adani to ignore Indigenous objections to Adani coal mine
  • Wangan and Jagalingou to meet with UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights to express concern
Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s Carmichael mine are profoundly disappointed that Labor senators have today backed in the Government’s rushed and ill-considered amendments to the Native Title Act, giving a free kick to Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and plans for a Qld coal mine.

The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is designed to overturn the recent McGlade decision that upheld the Native Title Act requirement that all applicants are needed to sign a land use agreement. The bill is expected to be debated in the Senate today.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council Mr Adrian Burragubba said, Labor has lined up with the Government to wind back our rights – and their own commitment to land rights. They have swallowed the arguments of the mining and agricultural lobby that there is a crisis that needs an urgent response.

“Hiding behind the argument that these changes are small and technical is a ruse. The consequences of this bill are profound and adverse, affecting not just us, but Aboriginal people around the country and our future generations.

“By pushing this Bill through, The Coalition and Labor are attacking the integrity of our decision making, and our rights to self-determination. Aboriginal people should be able to say ‘no’ to destruction of our country and heritage. The Senate report is inadequate in dealing with the real intent and failures of the bill, and cuts off genuine Native Title Act reform.

“The Greens have had the courage and decency to stand up for our rights. We extend our support to those Noongar people who have been today denied their rights which they fought for and won in the Federal Court”, he said.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council Ms Murrawah Johnson said, “The major parties have given Adani and their dirty mine a free kick today.

“Politicians at the Federal and State level are falling over themselves to push this controversial proposed mine through, denying us our rights to self-determination.  

“The Queensland Premier ‘belled the cat’ in India last week when she reassured Gautam Adani “there will be [no] obstacles … in the federal parliament”.

“Adani believes their mine will go ahead, because our political leaders keep telling them they’ll remove all the obstacles in their way”.

“Indigenous people will continue to fight these moves. We are meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights, on an official visit to Australia this week. We are also continuing to pursue Adani’s fake land use agreement in the courts”, she said.

Mr Colin Hardie, Lawyer for the W&J native title claimants objecting to Adani’s purported ILUA said, “The risk involved in this legislation is so great it should not be proceeding. It is a case where the cure is worse than the complaint. My clients will retain their objection to the purported Adani ILUA in the court, and consider grounds for challenging the legislation”.

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

 

The Senate Committee report is here.

logo-mark

 

Senate Inquiry told Native Title amendments will disenfranchise Traditional Owners

 

MEDIA RELEASE – 13 March 2017

Brandis’ changes support ‘divide and conquer’ tactics of unscrupulous companies like Adani

Brisbane. Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s Carmichael mine will today tell a Senate Inquiry into the Federal Native Title Bill that the kind of dubious tactics Adani has used to try secure a land use agreement with Traditional Owners will become even more prevalent if the Bill becomes law.

The Turnbull Government is attempting to rush the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 through Federal Parliament. The bill is designed to overturn the recent McGlade decision that 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 land use agreement with the WA government.

The delegation are calling for the Inquiry to be extended to allow proper negotiation with Aboriginal communities around Australia. They will tell the Inquiry that the the motives for the Bill are ill-founded, and that the mining lobby and the Attorney General have presented no evidence or argument for such hurried and destabilising changes.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “The Government has manufactured a false urgency so it can slip legislation through to defeat Aboriginal peoples’ rights without the necessary public scrutiny or Indigenous participation.

“A key driver for the changes is pressure from the Queensland Resources Council and other pro-mining interests to protect Adani, which fears opposition from W&J to any land use agreement will topple the project.

“We have experienced first hand in our dealings with Adani Mining how the Native Title Act can allow reprehensible tactics from proponents. This Bill will ensure miners and other rich developers will have even better tools to divide and conquer us.

“There is a real risk that the unprincipled and possibly unlawful divide and conquer tactics deployed by some unscrupulous mining companies like Adani may become standard operating procedure”.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council Ms Murrawah Johnson said, ““There is no doubt that what Adani is holding up as a land use agreement is invalid. Adani’s purported ILUA is the subject of an objection before the Native Title Tribunal, and is now proceeding to the Federal Court on various grounds.

“Adani exemplifies the way in which these Native Title Act ‘reforms’ would be exploited by unscrupulous, self-serving and wealthy proponents. Companies like Adani are already able to hijack Aboriginal decision making and divide us. They are using willing accomplices to get their way and present a veneer of consent for their project.

“The bill would alter the fundamentals of our traditional decision processes. The integrity of Traditional Owner decision making and rights to speak for country must be protected. The inalienability of our rights in land must be respected. It is the ground on which we seek to protect our country and heritage from the mass destruction that would ensue from the Carmichael mine.”

Mr Colin Hardie, Lawyer for the W&J native title claimants objecting to Adani’s purported ILUA said, “Adani continues to work with only those that provide the answers and support they require. These people are disenfranchising large parts of the W&J claim group and the Applicant.

“Senators need to understand how decision making in Traditional Owner groups work. Adani thinks they only need a majority of the Applicant group to sign agreements or do business. We are informed that right now Adani are meeting with a minority of the native title party to advance their agenda.

“Adani and the signatories to the ILUA have completely disregarded the rights and interests of the majority of the families and attempted to subvert the proper processes of the Applicant. The W&J put 12 applicants in place to represent all the families, and to make sure that the interest of all the group is recognised”.

Mr Burragubba said,“The Turnbull and Palaszczuk Governments are working hand in glove with this Indian company, which is actively trying to divide our community and trample our rights.

“The consequences of this bill will be profound, affecting not just us, but Aboriginal people around the country and our future generations. We have a right to say no”, he said.

Ms Johnson said, “We are calling on Senators to extend the Inquiry and its consultation period. One Brisbane hearing and a two week submission period is ridiculously inadequate to expose the real intent and failures of the bill, and to set about genuine Native Title Act reform.

“The integrity of our decision making, especially regarding our laws and customs, and our rights to self-determination and to withhold our consent to the destruction of our country and heritage, are at stake. The Senate needs to put the brakes on this move by the miners and their Government backers”, she said.

The Senate Committee is due to report on 17 March.

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

W&J Traditional Owners’ Council Senate Inquiry Submission here

Website  Videos: No Means No & No Surrender

 

 

Traditional Owners say Native Title Bill needs more time, proper negotiation

 

MEDIA RELEASE – 2 March 2017

CANBERRA. Traditional owners fighting Indian miner Adani’s mine are demanding the Government act fairly and allow more time for proper consideration by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around Australia who will be affected by the Government’s proposed changes to native title laws.

Spokespeople for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) are currently in Canberra meeting with Labor, the Greens and the Crossbench – key to the Bill’s future.

The recent WA McGlade court decision upheld the Native Title Act requirement that all Applicants sign a land use agreement. The Government’s bill to overturn the decision was rushed through the House of Representatives on 16 February and is now before a truncated Senate Inquiry.

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Mr Adrian Burragubba, says, “The Federal government moved to amend the Native Title Act as if there was a state of emergency, but without any evidence of a real problem or justification for the rush. The Bill appears to be rammed through to meet the calls of the mining lobby, and in particular Adani and its backers from the Queensland Resources Council.

“The Senate Committee inquiring into the Bill set a ridiculously short period for submissions and is holding just one public hearing in Brisbane. This very truncated inquiry should be extended so real and meaningful input from Traditional Owners around the country can be gathered to inform the Senate on the Bill.

“We have experienced first hand in our dealings with Adani how the Native Title Act can allow underhand and dishonest tactics from proponents. Brandis’ amendments will ensure miners and other rich developers have even better tools to divide and conquer us.

“Former Resources Minister and now CEO of the Queensland Resources Council Ian MacFarlane has openly boasted about having the ear of his Canberra mates to make the changes to protect Adani.

“The Senate must take care with any changes to the Native Title Act and not be railroaded by the Government into amendments that will create more uncertainty and injustice.

“We have been meeting with members of Parliament to explain how the native title regime fails to support Traditional Owners’ rights to self-determination, and undermines the integrity of our decision making. Amendments in 1998 failed to honour the spirit of the Mabo and Wik decisions, and eroded our land rights. These changes would further strip back Indigenous rights,” Mr Burragubba said.

Murrawah Johnson, youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council says, “Fundamental changes to native title laws, which impact every Indigenous person in Australia, should not be rushed and deserve our full and proper consideration. The process is entirely inadequate and disrespectful to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by the changes, many of whom have not been notified about the amendments, let alone consulted.

“Talking to some hand-picked peak bodies is not real consultation, and denies our people the right to determine for ourselves our view on these changes.

“The Government has massively failed if it thinks this rush job is a just response to the Federal Court decision in McGlade. The Bill should not be passed in its current form,” Ms Johnson said.

The Senate Committee is due to report on 17 March. Submissions close tomorrow, Friday 3 March.

The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is designed to overturn the recent Federal Court decision in McGlade v Native Title Register that upheld the Native Title Act requirement that all applicants are needed to sign a land use agreement, after members of the Noongar peoples took the Native Title Registrar to the Federal Court over a $1.3B land use agreement with the Western Australian government.

For more information:  Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743. Website Videos: No Means No +  No Surrender

Traditional Owners v Adani in Federal Court today then to Canberra to discuss Native Title Amendments

Traditional owners fighting the Carmichael megamine are on the front foot this week, challenging in court the native title process which allowed the Qld Government to issue a mining lease without their consent, and meeting with Federal MPs to present arguments why the Government’s amendments to the Native Title Act threaten the rights of Traditional Owners and fail to deal with the real issues arising from the recent McGlade decision.

Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Mr Adrian Burragubba, says, “The W&J Family Council have voted three times since 2012 to reject Adani’s sham deal, while the National Native Title Tribunal gave the green light to the Qld Government to issue Adani with a mining lease, after the mining company applied to have our decision overridden. This is the crux of our appeal before the full bench of the Federal Court on Monday”.

Spokespeople for W&J, Mr Burragubba and Ms Murrawah Johnson, will also visit Canberra this week to meet with key Federal MPs about the Government’s Native Title Act Amendment Bill and explain the failures of the native title process. Labor and The Greens voted against rushing the Bill through the House of Representatives last week. The Bill is now being scrutinised by a Senate committee which is due to report on 17 March 2017.

“The Federal government rammed amendments through, without any evidence of a real problem. The changes follow pressure by the Queensland mining lobby, supported by the Queensland government, because  Adani saw that its dodgy deal was threatened,” Mr Burragubba said.

“Adani has ridden roughshod over our rights, lied about job creation and lied about the mine’s economic benefits – all for an insulting compensation package for the destruction of our lands and heritage.

“The company engineered sham meetings and bussed in large numbers of people, including people who aren’t part of our claim group, and who had no authority to make decisions about our country, to give a veneer of consent for their destructive mine.

“In Canberra we will meet with MPs to demonstrate how the Native Title Act allows underhand and dishonest tactics from Adani and other mining corporations. Brandis’ amendments will ensure miners and other rich developers have even better tools to divide and conquer.

“It is clear from my discussions with other Traditional Owners that many share our concerns.

“The native title regime fails to support Traditional Owners’ rights to self-determination and undermines the integrity of our decision making. Amendments in 1998 failed to honour the spirit of the Mabo and Wik decisions, and further eroded  our land rights. The current system allows companies like Adani to use dirty tactics to divide and manipulate our people.

“The Senate must take care with any changes to the Native Title Act and not be railroaded by the Government and their industry backers into amendments that will create more uncertainty and injustice.  

“These native title amendments won’t save Adani’s fake ILUA. Irrespective of changes that may arise from the McGlade decision, we are taking legal action to overturn this scam,” Mr Burragubba said.

About the Federal court hearing – Monday 27 February 2017
The appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court of Australia challenges a decision of Justice Reeves in relation the National Native Title Tribunal’s decision to allow the Queensland government’s issuing of mining leases for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, handed down on 19th August 2016. The appeal is being run by Sydney Senior Counsel Craig James Leggatt SC  and Barrister David Yarrow. The appeal proceeds alongside a challenge brought by Mr Burragubba and other W&J Traditional Owners in the Qld Supreme Court against the mining leases that have been issued by Queensland Minister for Mines, the Hon Dr Andrew Lynham and the Queensland government.

About W&J’s objection to Adani’s proposed Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
A legal action is proceeding to the Federal Court to prevent the registration by the NNTT of Adani’s supposed ILUA. In the case of the purported Adani ILUA, the claim group at an authorisation meeting held in March 2016 expressed the view that the majority of applicants should not execute the ILUA and removed those applicants who were in favour of doing so. The claim group had twice before rejected an ILUA with Adani.

The Adani meeting in April 2016 was not an authorisation meeting of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. It was a meeting organised and paid for by Adani at a cost estimated to be in excess of half a million dollars to get its ILUA approved. At that meeting, Adani paid for Aboriginal people to attend who had never identified as Wangan and Jagalingou people before, and had never claimed native title on Wangan and Jagalingou traditional country where Adani’s proposed mine would be located.

For more information, and to arrange an interview with Mr Burragubba and lawyer for Mr Burragubba in the Federal Court action, Mr Benedict CoyneAnderson Fredericks Turner and lawyer in the ILUA matter, Colin Hardie, Just Us Lawyers:  Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743.

W&J website: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/