Traditional owners fighting Adani mine meet UN Rapporteur

MEDIA RELEASE  13 October 2016  |  

Traditional owners fighting Adani mine meet UN Rapporteur today:
Raise ‘egregious failure’ of Qld Mines Minister & Coordinator General to respect Indigenous rights

The declaration of Adani’s Carmichael coal project as “critical infrastructure” by Qld Government Mines Minister, Anthony Lynham, is “a political absurdity, and continues the egregious failure of the Queensland Government to respect our rights”, said Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council senior spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba today, before a meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

Mr. Burragubba confirmed he would today raise this new development with Mr. Michel Forst, who is currently conducting an official visit to Australia. More detail about his visit is provided below.

Mr Burragubba said, “Minister Lynham’s declaration is like calling a state of emergency for coal mining. Giving Adani this advantage provides cover for the abuse of the rights of Traditional Owners who have stood firm in the face of the destruction that would befall their lands, waters and culture if this massive, inappropriate project were to ever proceed.

“Adani and the Queensland government have used coercive powers under Native Title and State Development legislation, and the threat of compulsory acquisition of our land rights, to drive the development of the mine forward, over our vehement objections. The Coordinator General, Mr Barry Broe, has been instrumental in making this happen and this week Minister Lynham handed him even more power to override our legitimate concerns about the destruction of our environment and the disregard of our rights”, Mr Burragubba said.

Mr. Burragubba, and W&J youth spokesperson, Ms. Murrawah Johnson, said the meeting today will build on a previous submission W&J made to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in which they sought assistance to deal with the failure of both State and Federal Governments to properly respect the human rights of W&J Traditional Owners, as both Governments fell over themselves in obscene haste to get Adani’s coal mine approvals out the door.

In a letter already provided to Mr. Forst, the W&J council told the Special Rapporteur that they have three times rejected a land use agreement with Adani Mining, “but neither the government nor the mining company respect our position”.

“Earlier this year, and without our consent, the Queensland government issued the mining leases for the mine, and Adani Mining claims to have reached a land use agreement allowing it to proceed. But we are currently fighting these moves in the Courts and will continue to defend our rights and stand in defense of our country and culture”, said Mr. Burragubba.

“The system is neither free nor fair for Aboriginal people. We were subject to legal coercion and inducements while our internal decision-making processes were actively undermined by the Government and the mining company”, he said.

“We are forced to fight for our survival because state and federal legislation does not assure our rights to our traditional lands and to our culture. Our international legal right to free, prior and informed consent is not protected under Australian law, and Adani has actively exploited this.  

“In the end, this is about the State Government’s ‘dig it up and ship it out’ mentality that is as redundant as it is destructive. Minister Lynham this week invoked draconian powers over the rights of the community because he was feeling the heat from the extractive industry lobby and their political and media mates.

“There is nothing ‘critical’ about Adani’s Carmichael mine for the Traditional Owners, for the Australian community, or for a world confronting the dilemma of global climate change – just political panic in the face of opposition to it.

“We will tell Mr Forst today that when we say no, we mean no. We will seek his consideration of the circumstances in which our rights in refusing this mine are being obstructed. We have said all along we will fight this imposition. We are currently pursuing four cases within the courts, and we will defend our right to say no to this project and to highlight its complete disregard for our future as a people, and the destruction of our ancestral lands and waters that would follow.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst is visiting Australia from 4 to 18 October 2016 to assess the overall environment for human rights defenders and civil society in the country.

The UN Rapporteur is mandated to conduct official visits to States. These visits provide an opportunity to examine in detail the role and situation of human rights defenders in the country, to identify particular problems and to make recommendations on how these could be resolved.

The Special Rapporteur is required to look critically at the situation of human rights defenders in a country. The process is intended to provide an independent and impartial assessment, which will be of use to all actors in strengthening both the contribution of defenders to human rights and their protection.

During the two-week visit, at the invitation of the Australian Government, the Special Rapporteur will meet with both federal and state level officials, parliamentarians, various rights commissioners and ombudsman, as well as human rights defenders and a broad range of civil society representatives from various parts of the country.

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary findings and recommendations at a press conference on Tuesday, 18 October 2016, at 11.30 am, at the UN Information Center, Level 1, 7 National Circuit, Barton, ACT 2600 Australia. Access to the press conference is limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur’s final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in a future session.

Background brief to be provided to the Special Rapporteur is available on request.

Available for interview: Adrian Burragubba, Senior spokesperson and Murrawah Johnson.

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

W&J website can be found here

 

Traditional Owners fight on: appeal Carmichael mine Federal Court decision

An appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court of Australia was filed today by senior Traditional Owner and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) family council, Mr Adrian Burragubba, challenging a decision of Justice Reeves in relation to the Queensland government’s issuing of mining leases for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, handed down on 19th August 2016.

Further background to the case can be found below.

Mr Burragubba said: “We said ‘no means no’ and so we will continue to resist this damaging coal mine that will tear the heart out of our Country. The stakes are huge. In the spirit of our ancestors, we will continue to fight for justice until the project falls over.

“The decision of the Native Title Tribunal in April 2015 to allow the issuing of the mining leases by the Queensland government took away our right to free, prior and informed consent. It effectively allowed the government to override the decision that we made nearly two years ago to reject Adani’s ‘deal’,” Mr Burragubba said.

The appeal, being run by Sydney Senior Counsel Craig James Leggatt SC and other barristers working pro bono, will make two arguments: that the matters Mr Burragubba put before the National Native Title Tribunal should have been taken into account by the Tribunal member when granting the Future Act mining rights to Adani and that Justice Reeves should have found that Adani was misleading before the Tribunal.

The appeal will proceed 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 for the Carmichael mine. That case will be heard by the Qld Supreme Court in November 2016.  Further legal actions are also underway in relation to Native Title matters.

Mr Burragubba said: “This is our fight as Traditional Owners and cultural custodians. We will not be talked down to by industry or government and their lackeys, and we will challenge any decision that threatens our life, culture and traditions and the social, cultural and economic structures of our group,” said Mr Burragubba.

“This is about our ancient connection to the place of our ancestors. It is a defense of our lands and waters, plants and animals against the destruction wrought by coal mining, and a demand to have our rights as the Traditional Owners respected and our voices heard.

“We are Traditional Owners who assert our right to self-determination and a future without dependency on mining. We have determined to oppose the Carmichael Mine, and to use all appropriate means to stop the destruction of our Country and culture,” Mr Burragubba said

Lawyer for Mr Burragubba, Mr Benedict Coyne, said: “My client has reviewed Justice Reeves’ reasons for the judgment, taken advice from his legal team and considered his options. Mr Burragubba brings this appeal on strong public interest grounds and in the context of other legal avenues he is pursuing for justice for his people, both domestically and internationally.

“The case raises very important issues for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians in the context of the native title system and Indigenous Peoples’ rights.  There are important legal principles and principles of human rights and justice at stake,” Mr Coyne said.

For more information, and to arrange an interview with Mr Burragubba and Mr Coyne:  
Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743.
W&J website: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/

Overview of case

W&J Traditional Owner’s Federal Court Judicial Review and Appeal
Burragubba -v- The State of Queensland, Adani Mining and the National Native Title Tribunal

Background

The National Native Title Tribunal determined in April 2015 that mining leases could be issued by the Queensland government for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, on the traditional lands of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people in the Galilee Basin, without further regard to the rights and interests of the Traditional Owners. It came after Adani had sought and gained the approval of the National Native Title Tribunal for the Qld Government to override the decision of the traditional owners made in October 2014 to reject the mine.

The W&J had rejected a Land Use Agreement with Adani in October 2014. Six days later, Adani took legal action against the decision of the W&J in the Native Title Tribunal. The Queensland Government supported that action and the submission made by Adani.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Council opposed Adani’s application and the subsequent decision of Member McNamara, and moved to file for a judicial review in the Federal Court. The Council authorised senior Traditional Owner, Adrian Burragubba, in his own right, and on their behalf, to file the applications and represent the group.

The Judicial Review was heard by the Federal Court in November 2015 and further in February 2016. The respondents were the Queensland Government, Adani Mining and the National Native Title Tribunal.

Counsel for Mr Burragubba are: Mr C Leggat SC with Barristers Mr D Yarrow and Mr M Steele. The Instructing Solicitor for the Applicant is: Benedict Coyne: Anderson Fredericks Turner Lawyers & Advocates

Amended application

Queensland Mines Minister, Anthony Lynham had said in a letter to Mr Burragubba’s legal counsel in October 2015, and again this year, that he intended to await the outcome of the Federal Court Judicial Review before issuing any leases.

Lawyers for Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) council spokesperson and traditional owner Adrian Burragubba filed an interlocutory application in the Federal Court on 15 April 2016 seeking to reopen the Judicial Review after the mining leases were granted by the State on 3 April 2016. Federal Court Justice John Reeves granted leave to reopen and to amend the original application of a judicial review to to seek declaratory relief from the Court against the issuing of the mining leases.

Basis of Judicial Review – originating application

  1. The Decision was induced or affected by fraud – Adani engaged in dishonestly misleading conduct which is conduct analogous to fraud within s.5(1)(g) of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth).
  2. The Tribunal failed to observe the rules of natural justice, or constructively failed to exercise its jurisdiction.
  3. The Tribunal’s decision was an improper exercise of power reposed in it, in that when making the Decision it failed to take into account a relevant consideration being material related to the matters.
  4. The Tribunal’s decision involved an error of law, being that it erroneously concluded that the reference to ‘native title party’ was a reference to the persons comprising the applicant when the Tribunal should have concluded that the term was a reference to the members of the native title claim group.

Interlocutory application

  1. Mining leases ML 70505 and ML 70506, granted on 3 April 2016, are not acts that satisfy the requirements of any of the subparagraphs of s.28(1) of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)

Remedies

Remedies sought were:

  • Orders setting aside the Tribunal’s decision, and remitting the matter to the Tribunal for decision according to law.
  • A declaration that mining leases ML 70505 and ML 70506, granted on 3 April 2016, are not acts that satisfy the requirements of any of the subparagraphs of s.28(1) of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Outcome

On 19 August 2016 Mr Burragubba’s Application was dismissed by Justice Reeves. Arguments about costs are ensuing. Mr Burragubba’s legal counsel reviewed the reasons for the judgment and have provided Mr Burragubba with advice.

Appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court

The Appellant appeals from the whole of the judgment of the Federal Court given on 19 August 2016 at Brisbane.

ENDS

CORRECTION: QLD Resources Council Lies re Carmichael Court Decision

MEDIA STATEMENT  19 August 2016   

CORRECTION: QLD RESOURCES COUNCIL LIES RE CARMICHAEL COURT CHALLENGE

Senior Traditional Owner and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) family council, Mr Adrian Burragubba, today criticised the head of the Queensland Resources Council for blatantly lying about Mr Burragubba’s legal representation, and questioning of W&J’s independence, to suit his own agenda. (See QRC full statement below).

“Mr Roche wrongly claims we were represented by the Environmental Defenders Office. In fact, Wangan and Jagalingou people are proud to be represented by lawyers and barristers, generously acting on a pro bono basis in the public interest, and in defence of our rights,” Mr Burragubba said.

“If Mr Roche acquainted himself with the facts, instead of concocting stories to suit his own purposes, he’d know this is the case.

For details of W&J legal representation see below.

“This is our fight and it will go on, with or without the campaign of lies being run against us by the Queensland Resources Council.  We are an independent group of Traditional Owners who determine our interests, and this means self-determination without dependency on mining. We have autonomously and for our own reasons determined to campaign against Carmichael, and to use all appropriate means to stop it.”

“The stakes are huge for my people. If the Carmichael mine goes ahead it will tear the heart out of Country. We will continue to fight it until the project falls over,” Mr Burragubba said.

For further information:  Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743

W&J website “No means no” video.

Legal Representation:

Counsel for the Applicant: Mr C Leggat SC with Barristers Mr D Yarrow and Mr M Steele
Instructing Solicitor for the Applicant: Benedict Coyne: Anderson Fredericks Turner Lawyers

QRC Statement: Federal court dismisses activist claim – 19 August 2016

The opening of the rich coal deposits in the Galilee Basin edged forward today with the dismissal of an activist’s native title claim in Federal Court.

The proceedings were brought against Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project from a member of the Wangan and Jagalingou people earlier this year.

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said he was not surprised by the dismissal as it was just another in the long line of green activist legal suits that were designed to hold up development in Queensland.

‘The appeal by Adrian Burragubba, represented by the taxpayer-funded Environmental Defenders Office, is merely a tactic of the anti-coal brigade,’ Mr Roche said.

‘The never-ending flow of legal challenges is straight out of the activists’ playbook. It’s about disrupting and delaying new projects in the hope that the investor will give up and walk away and in so doing denying regional Queensland thousands of desperately needed jobs.

‘The QRC once again calls on state and federal governments to urgently overhaul the process and prevent the blatant abuse of the court system that enables green activists to continuously and blatantly disrupt and delay projects.’

Mr Roche said the ink was barely dry on the court’s decision when activist groups took to social media announcing there were more challenges ahead.

‘Market Forces, an affiliate of taxpayer-subsidised Friends of the Earth, were tweeting within minutes “Head up @burragubba we’re not done yet #endofcoal”, Mr Roche said.

‘And if we go by past form, the green activist groups will also be calling for donations before the ink is dry on the Federal Court’s decision.’

The Carmichael coal mine and rail project, which is a huge job-generating project for Queensland, has been in caught up in the Queensland Federal project approvals systems for nearly 70 months.

With growing evidence of green shoots in the coal sector, we need to get this project out of the courts and into construction.

Media contact: Angela Harper 07 3295 9560

Adani court decision: Traditional Owners say fight to stop QLD’s Carmichael mine continues

MEDIA RELEASE  19 August 2016  |  

Court decision: Traditional Owners say govt acted shamefully, fight to stop Adani’s Carmichael mine continues
Defence of rights and country still has a long way to run

Senior Traditional Owner and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) traditional owners family council, Mr Adrian Burragubba, says he is not surprised  by the decision handed down in the Federal Court in Brisbane today, while reiterating that they stand strong together and will continue to defend their human rights, and protect their traditional lands from Adani’s destructive Carmichael mine. (Further background to the case below).

“The issuing by the Palaszczuk government of the mining leases, in support of Adani running roughshod over our right to say ‘no’ to this mine, was a shameful episode. We will continue to pursue all legal avenues, Australian and international, to defend our rights and stop this massive coal mine going ahead,” Mr Burragubba said.

Wangan and Jagalingou council representatives, including Mr Burragubba, are currently challenging the leases that have been issued by the Palaszczuk government for the Adani Carmichael coal mine in a Judicial Review in the Queensland Supreme Court. The matter will be heard in November; and further legal actions are underway.

“Acting in complete bad faith, the Queensland Minister for Mining Mr Lynham pre-empted the decision of the Federal Court in today’s judgement and issued the mine leases to Adani in April this year, in the complete absence of the consent of the Traditional Owners. We had made it clear that we oppose this mine at a self-determined meeting of the W&J claim group in March, and at two prior meetings of the W&J people in 2012 and 2014,” Mr Burragubba said.

“The decision of the Native Title Tribunal in April 2015 to allow the issuing of the mining leases, on the application of Adani Mining, effectively allowed the State government to override the decision of the W&J traditional owners to reject the mine made in October 2014, greenlighting the complete destruction of our country and cultural heritage.

“Adani sought to have our decisions overridden and, with the help of the State, to bring pressure to bear on the Wangan and Jagalingou people. At that point they effectively took away our right to free, prior, informed consent”, said Mr Burragubba.

This Federal Court challenge was brought by Mr. Burragubba who filed his statement of claim with the Tribunal in his own right as a senior W&J Traditional Owner, and on behalf of the W&J traditional owners family council he represents.

Mr Burragubba’s application sought to demonstrate that the administration of the native title system is unfairly restrictive on the rights of Traditional Owners, effectively ignoring their decisions. He also argued that Adani had acted in a way ‘analogous to fraud’ before the Tribunal because of its misrepresentation of the supposed economic benefits of the mine, as demonstrated in the QLD Land and Environment Court earlier this year.

“While I respect the judgement of Justice Reeves, we will seek advice from our legal team on an appeal,” said Mr Burragubba.

“It is clear however that my submissions to the court and our concern to protect our “life, culture and traditions” and “the social, cultural and economic structures” of our group were dismissed and overridden. We continue to be restricted in the full expression of our laws and customs, in service to the machinery of mining development and the destruction of our country and culture.

“The discriminatory system underlying the Native Title Act, and the compulsory extinguishment powers of the State government, sanctions this kind of coercive force by the Palaszczuk Government and a mining corporation in their bid to rip open our country for the benefit of a foreign coal billionaire. Recognition of the rights of Indigenous people in legislation in Australia today falls well short of the rights afforded to us as first nations people under International law.

“We have said we will continue to pursue all legal avenues, Australian and international, and test the limitations on our rights by the Governments of this country, and we will. Further legal action is underway or in planning”, said Mr Burragubba.

“These actions show we are standing strong. We simply will not stand by while the QLD government licences the destruction of our homelands. The future of our people and culture, of our lands and waters and plants and animals, and our sacred sites and stories that connect our homelands together into our spiritual home, will not be based on coal mining.

“A pittance from compensation agreements signed under duress, and a few minimum-wage jobs in a dying industry, are not what our people, especially our young people, deserve. The crumbs thrown by Adani are not worth sacrificing our dignity, our freedom and our ancient legacy for. Nothing Adani offers up will ever be worth the damage this mine will inflict on laws and customs, and on our fellow Australians and the world community in an era of dangerous climate change.

“If the State and Adani want their leases to take effect, they will have to forcefully take our rights away in the full view of the world. Our family council stands strong together. We will not be deterred.

“The Queensland government and Adani still do not have everything they need to go ahead with this destructive coalmine, least of all investment capital. We will stand in their way for as long as it takes, until they understand that when those Traditional Owners who speak for country say no, it means no,” concluded Mr Burragubba.

Lawyer for Mr Burragubba, Mr Benedict Coyne said: “My client will take some time to review the reasons for judgment, and consider his appeal options in the context of numerous other legal avenues he is pursuing for justice for his people, both domestically and internationally.”

For information, and to arrange interviews with Murrawah Johnson, spokesperson for Adrian Burragubba:  Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743

W&J website.    “No means no” video.

Media briefing / Background to case, August 2016

W&J Traditional Owner’s Federal Court Judicial Review:  Burragubba -v- The State of Queensland, Adani Mining and the National Native Title Tribunal

Background

The National Native Title Tribunal determined in April 2015 that mining leases could be issued by the Queensland government for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, on the traditional lands of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people in the Galilee Basin, without further regard to the rights and interests of the Traditional Owners. It came after Adani had sought and gained the approval of the National Native Title Tribunal for the Qld Government to override the decision of the traditional owners made in October 2014 to reject the mine.

The W&J had rejected a Land Use Agreement with Adani in October 2014. Six days later, Adani took legal action against the decision of the W&J in the Native Title Tribunal. The Queensland Government supported that action and the submission made by Adani.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Council opposed Adani’s application and the subsequent decision of Member McNamara, and moved to file for a judicial review in the Federal Court. The Council authorised senior Traditional Owner, Adrian Burragubba, in his own right, and on their behalf, to file the applications and represent the group.

The Judicial Review was heard by the Federal Court in November 2015 and further in February 2016. The respondents were the Queensland Government, Adani Mining and the National Native Title Tribunal.

Amended application

Queensland Mines Minister, Anthony Lynham had said in a letter to Mr Burragubba’s legal counsel in October 2015, and again this year, that he intended to await the outcome of the Federal Court Judicial Review before issuing any leases.

Lawyers for Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) council spokesperson and traditional owner Adrian Burragubba filed an interlocutory application in the Federal Court on 15 April 2016 seeking to reopen the Judicial Review after the mining leases were granted by the State on 3 April 2016. Federal Court Justice John Reeves granted leave to reopen and to amend the original application of a judicial review to to seek declaratory relief from the Court against the issuing of the mining leases.

Basis of appeal – originating application

  1. The Decision was induced or affected by fraud – Adani engaged in dishonestly misleading conduct which is conduct analogous to fraud within s.5(1)(g) of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth).
  2. The Tribunal failed to observe the rules of natural justice, or constructively failed to exercise its jurisdiction.
  3. The Tribunal’s decision was an improper exercise of power reposed in it, in that when making the Decision it failed to take into account a relevant consideration being material related to the matters.
  4. The Tribunal’s decision involved an error of law, being that it erroneously concluded that the reference to ‘native title party’ was a reference to the persons comprising the applicant when the Tribunal should have concluded that the term was a reference to the members of the native title claim group.

Interlocutory application

  1. Mining leases ML 70505 and ML 70506, granted on 3 April 2016, are not acts that satisfy the requirements of any of the subparagraphs of s.28(1) of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)

Remedies

Remedies sought were –

  • Orders setting aside the Tribunal’s decision, and remitting the matter to the Tribunal for decision according to law.
  • A declaration that mining leases ML 70505 and ML 70506, granted on 3 April 2016, are not acts that satisfy the requirements of any of the subparagraphs of s.28(1) of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Outcome

The Application has been dismissed. Mr Burragubba’s legal counsel will review the reasons for judgment, and consider his appeal options in the context of numerous other legal avenues he is pursuing.

ENDS

Q&A Correction: To the ‘Minister for Adani’ — Matthew Canavan — “No Still Means No”

On ABC’s Q&A last night, National Party Senator, Matthew Canavan – the ‘Minister for Adani’ – made a vague reference to “native title” groups’ near unanimous support for the proposed Carmichael mine. He complained that the media doesn’t cover such supposed ‘good news’, as though his Government’s interests are not constantly boosted in the press.

If he were genuine, he might know how we feel. Despite our families three times saying “no” to Adani, the public mis-representation continues. Mainstream media mostly fails to report our story, except in terms that support the pro-coal mining voices in government and industry.

What the Minister failed to mention, or referred to only obliquely, is that we have several legal cases running to demonstrate that Adani does not have our free, prior, informed consent, they have engaged in conduct ‘analogous to fraud’ and that, along with the State and some statutory representatives, manipulated the native title process to override our rights and interests and divide our people.

We are in the courts challenging the issuing of the leases and Adani’s claim to have reached agreement with us as Traditional Owners. Adani doesn’t yet have what it wants to build its mine – least of all money – and we continue to fight for our rights and the protection of our country from their destructive intent.

Uncle Adrian- %22we're still here, no still means no%22

Traditional Owners’ rejection of Carmichael stands, despite Adani bank rolling bogus “land use agreement”

MEDIA RELEASE  16 APRIL 2016

 

Sham agreement to be challenged in the Federal Court

Representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) claim group today slammed a meeting organised and funded by Indian giant Adani, which purports to be a gathering of the W&J people but was convened by the company to push a land use deal for its Carmichael mega-mine.

Adrian Burragubba, senior W&J traditional owner, native title applicant and spokesperson for the W&J Family Council said, “This was a sham meeting which has engineered a sham outcome. We will challenge Adani’s phoney land use deal in the Federal Court and properly discredit it.

“Not just once but three times W&J traditional owners have voted to reject Adani taking our lands and digging the Carmichael mine on our country. But right from the start foreign billionaire Adani’s company has been intent on getting what it wants, and used its power and money to divide our community.

“Just last month the W&J claim group met of our own accord and said ‘no’ to Adani. We made it clear that Saturday’s meeting is not a legitimate meeting of the claim group and the resolution to approve Adani’s deal is not legitimate either,” Mr Burragubba said.

See Guardian Australia investigation,“Revealed: traditional owners accepted payments to attend Adani meetings”, Sat 16 April.

Murrawah Johnson, a W&J Family Council spokesperson and native title applicant said: “Adani has consistently tried to fracture us for a mine that will never be built. But we will stand strong. We have told Adani, we have told the State Government that we do not accept their sham process, and we will fight it all the way through the courts.

“The company has lied about job creation, lied about the mine’s economic benefits and continues to try entice our people with coloured brochures full of empty promises. Adani, working closely with the Queensland government, has stitched up a dubious outcome.

“The Indian coal giant has worked to dupe us into signing away our rights by offering a measly compensation package, and money just to sign up their deal.

“True to form, Adani has bussed in large numbers of people, including non-members of our claim group who have no connection to the country which this dangerous mine is set to destroy. Many members of the claim group who last met in March refused to attend Adani’s meeting today,” Ms Johnson said.

Lawyer for the W&J applicants opposing Adani’s Carmichael mine, Mr Col Hardie, said: “In native title proceedings it is very important that mining and exploration companies stand at arm’s length and allow Traditional Owners a proper opportunity to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. In this case Adani appears to have gone over the line in pushing for a particular outcome.  In my view, the benefits they are offering are below standard. They have done little to respect the views of the Traditional Owners who have opposed the project on cultural and environmental grounds.”

On Wednesday W&J representatives launched further legal action in the Federal Court challenging the Palaszczuk  government’s issuing of mining leases to Adani for Carmichael mine. The government issued the mine leases in the absence of the consent of the W&J people to Carmichael mine, and in the face of their three-time rejection of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani, most recently at an authorisation meeting of the claim group on 19 March 2016. Mines Minister Lynham had said on numerous occasions that he would await resolution of the Judicial Review in the Federal Court but reneged on his word.

W&J representatives have also filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) about the racially discriminatory way in which the Native Title system operates, as a forerunner to further court action.

Mr Burragubba, who filed the AHRC complaint, said: “We are disadvantaged by the law and denied our international rights to self determination and free, prior informed consent. We are required to participate in the native title regime against a backdrop of financial disadvantage and discrimination.

“We will continue to pursue all legal avenues, Australian and international, to put a stop to this diabolical and dangerous project. Our rights are not protected and we will test the limits of the law in this country. We will never give our consent, or have our consent extracted by misrepresentation, misinformation and inducement.

“This is just the start in another chapter of our long but determined struggle to defeat this coal company and all those who would sell our ancestral land and heritage out from under us. The future of our people and culture, and of our lands and waters and plants and animals, and our sacred sites and stories that connect our homelands together into our spiritual home, cannot and will not be based on coal mining.

“Our fight is far from over. When we say no, we mean no,” Mr. Burragubba concluded.

For comment:         Adrian Burragubba 0428 949 115; Murrawah Johnson 0439 919 891

On legal matters:    Col Hardie, principal, Just Us Lawyers 0408 697 145

Background:         Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743

W&J website  “No means no” video.

Media release // Traditional Owners take legal action on Adani’s Carmichael leases; release letter from QLD Mines Minister Lynham saying no intention to issue leases until Federal Court challenge resolved

MEDIA RELEASE  13 APRIL 2016  |  

Traditional Owners take legal action on Adani’s Carmichael leases; release letter from QLD Mines Minister Lynham saying no intention to issue leases until Federal Court challenge resolved

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) representatives today filed an interlocutory application in the Federal Court of Australia challenging the leases that have been issued for the Adani Carmichael coal mine, slated for their traditional homelands in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

The Application will seek to have heard that the mining leases, announced by QLD mines minister Anthony Lynham on 3 April, with the imprimatur of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, were not properly issued.

The QLD government issued the mine leases in the absence of the consent of the W&J people to Carmichael mine, and in the face of their three-time rejection of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani, most recently at an ILUA authorisation meeting on 19 March 2016. (Attached: W&J legal counsel’s letter notifying Minister Lynham and Premier Palaszczuk of rejection of ILUA).

In another new development, the W&J people have today released a October 2015 letter in which Minister Lynham says he ‘does not intend to issue’ Carmichael mining leases until after the resolution of the Judicial Review of the decision of the Native Title Tribunal that mining leases may be issued – a ruling that effectively allowed that State to override the decision of the traditional owners in October 2014 to reject the mine. This challenge, brought by Adrian Burragubba on behalf of the W&J representative council and as a native title claimant, is still awaiting a judgment.  (Attached: Lynham letter and original letter from W&J).

W&J spokesperson and traditional owner Adrian Burragubba said, “We have formally rejected this disastrous project three times. In this light, Minister Lynham’s issuing of the mining leases is a shameful episode in the trashing of Traditional Owners’ rights by the exercise of government power.

“In a letter to our legal counsel in October 2015, and again this year, Minister Lynham said that he intended to await the outcome of our Federal Court Judicial Review before issuing any leases. His letter was clearly not worth the paper it was written on, and is now a demonstrable show of his bad faith and the betrayal of us by the Government.”

Mr Burragubba continued, “Minister Lynham’s decision is also reckless politics. As he himself indicated publicly, issuing the mining leases prior to the determination of our legal challenge to Carmichael puts the leases at risk. The Minister’s treatment of us, and his failure to allow legal due process to play out, calls into question his integrity and the exercise of his powers.

“In filing this action today, we are making good on our pledge to oppose this mine every step of the way. We will continue to pursue all legal avenues, Australian and international, and test the limits of the law in this country”, said Mr Burragubba.

To this end, the W&J people today also announced they have filed a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on the systemic discrimination in the administration of Native Title system in Australia, a forerunner of further Federal Court action; and registered a newly-constituted Native Title Applicant, which gives full effect to the W&J Claim Group decision of 19 March to reject a land use deal with Adani.

“These actions show we are standing strong,” said Mr Burragubba. “Investors take note – Carmichael is plagued with uncertainty and moral hazard, notwithstanding any mining leases; and more than 10 of the world’s big banks have ruled out funding it because it’s unviable, and lacks our consent.

“The fact that Premier Palaszczuk took personal ownership of and trumpeted the decision to issue the Carmichael mine leases demonstrates that the QLD government’s recklessness and moral bankruptcy go to the very top,” Mr Burragubba continued. “This energises us for the fight. The Premier’s justification –  ‘10,000 jobs’ – is just Adani’s lies. It’s an act of gross irresponsibility for her to mouth Adani’s disinformation when she knows Adani’s own expert admitted in court that the truth is one-seventh of that number.

“Premier Palaszczuk has now revealed her contempt for my people and our rights, and her willingness to pander to a foreign coal billionaire by greenlighting destruction of our country on a massive scale.

“She can rest assured we will not stand by and be bullied into accepting that this mine is inevitable. We are expected to forfeit our claims to our lands and consent to the destruction of our country on something that has no financial backing, offers false promises of jobs, and before our claim can be heard”, said Mr Burragubba.

“But we simply will not stand by while the QLD government licences the destruction of our homelands. The future of our people and culture, of our lands and waters and plants and animals, and our sacred sites and stories that connect our homelands together into our spiritual home, cannot and will not be based on coal mining.

“A pittance from compensation agreements, and a few minimum-wage jobs in a dying industry, are not what our people, especially our young people, deserve. They are not worth sacrificing our dignity, our freedom and our ancient legacy for. They are not worth subjecting our fellow Australians and the world community to in an era of dangerous climate change”, Mr Burragubba said.

“If the State and Adani want their leases to take effect, they will have to forcefully take our rights away in the full view of the world. Will will not consent.  We will stand strong together. When we say no we mean no”.

For comment: Adrian Burragubba 0428 949 115; Murrawah Johnson 0439 919 891

On legal matters: Col Hardie, principal, Just Us Lawyers, on W&J’s claim group meeting and rejection of Land Use Agreement with Adani, 0408 697 145

Benedict Coyne, Boe Williams Anderson, on the Federal Court interlocutory application against the issuing of the Carmichael mine leases 0434 915 713

Background: Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743

W&J website “No means no” video.

MEDIA RELEASE // QLD Mines Minister Lynham’s Adani mine approval shows gutless and morally bankrupt approach of Government to Traditional Owners’ rights

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MEDIA RELEASE  3 APRIL 2016

QLD Mines Minister Lynham’s Adani mine approval shows gutless and morally bankrupt approach of Government to Traditional Owners’ rights

Minister prefers Adani’s misleading and inflated jobs figures to respect for the law and human rights, say Wangan and Jagalingou people

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people today responded to the announcement by QLD Mines Minister Anthony Lynham that he is issuing mining leases to Adani for the Carmichael coal mine. The coal mine is the biggest proposed in Australian history and if built will permanently destroy the W&J’s vast traditional homelands in the Galilee Basin.

W&J spokesperson and traditional owner Adrian Burragubba said, “This is a disgraceful new low in the exercise of Government power at the expense of Traditional Owners’ rights. Minister Lynham and Premier Palaszczuk should hang their heads in shame. History will condemn them. This is the wrong mine, at the wrong time, on the wrong side of history. Their actions are reckless and dishonourable.

“In October 2015 Minister Lynham confirmed in a letter to our legal counsel that he would await the outcome of our Federal Court action against the mine before considering issuing the leases. Late last year and again this year he said he would wait for the matters before the courts to be resolved so as not to run the risk of having his decision invalidated.”

Mr Burragubba’s legal representative and human rights lawyer, Benedict Coyne of law firm Boe Williams Anderson, said: “The granting of these leases by the Minister is a concern given that there is a judicial review proceeding for a related matter pending before the Federal Court of Australia. It is curious as to why the Minister was unable to wait for the proper legal processes to be concluded. We will be seeking a statement of reasons for the decision from the Minister and from there we will consider our client’s legal options”.

Mr Burragubba said, “Now, after being stitched up in the Qld Parliament by the LNP, and caving to pressure from foreign coal billionaire Adani and the coal lobby, the Minister has trashed our rights and pushed the leases out the door in one of the worst acts of bad faith towards Queensland’s Indigenous people in living memory”.

“For the third time, on 19 March this year, the W&J claim group met en masse and voted down the prospect of an indigenous land use agreement with Adani. We said it again, and we said it loud and clear: Wangan and Jagalingou do not consent to this mine and we never will.

Mr Burragubba said: “Our resolve is doubled. Minister Lynham can issue all the bits of paper he likes, hide behind false claims of jobs and benefits, and pander to big coal for an unviable project. These leases are issued by a Government that regards our people’s rights as expendable. We will not stand by while the Minister forces our people to give up our rights and heritage in our ancestral lands – and exposes the public to the massive risks this mine poses to land, water, to endangered plants and animals, and to a safe climate – just to appease industry lobbyists and political opponents.”

“This is a shameful day”, Mr Burragubba concluded. “This act of infamy will be challenged all the way to the High Court if necessary, and we will continue to pursue our rights under international law. The Minister may think this is the end of the matter, but for us it is just another chapter in the long struggle we have to get proper respect and protection for our rights under law, and ensure our sacred homelands are preserved for time immemorial.”

“We have said no to the Adani Carmichael mine. And when we say no, we mean no”.

For comment:
Adrian Burragubba 0428949115

For comment on legal matters:
Benedict Coyne  0434 915 713

For further information:
Anthony Esposito 0418 152 743

Authorisation meeting of the Wangan and Jagalingou People on the 19th March 2016 in Brisbane

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From the Authorisation meeting of the Wangan and Jagalingou People on the 19th March 2016 in Brisbane

Resolution #9 – Adani Carmichael Project

The chairperson read out the following resolution:

“This meeting notes that a proposed ILUA with Adani for its Carmichael Project has been rejected at claim group meetings on two prior occasions, the last occasion being at a meeting held in Rockhampton on 4 October 2014. The meeting also notes that no mandate has been given by the Wangan and Jagalingou claim group to continue or restart negotiations with Adani in respect of an ILUA for the project. This meeting expresses disappointment and concern that the majority of persons who make up the Applicant have ignored the will of the claim group and have:
1. continued to negotiate with Adani for an ILUA for its Carmichael project;
2. engaged a future act lawyer to assist them with the negotiations;
3. accepted sittings fees funded by Adani for the negotiations; and
4. endorsed the holding of an authorisation meeting fully funded by Adani to approve an ILUA.

This meeting also notes that the ILUA proposed by the majority of Applicants to be considered at a subsequent authorisation meeting is in substantially the same terms as the proposal already rejected by the claim group at its meeting on 4 October 2014. Further the meeting notes that the scope of Carmichael Project has not changed and the potential for environmental damage to the traditional lands of the Wangan and Jagalingou People has not been ameliorated.

Having regard to the above, this meeting rejects and does not authorise an ILUA with Adani for its Carmichael project and directs the Wangan and Jagalingou Applicants to:

(a) Immediately cease negotiations with Adani in relation to an ILUA for its Carmichael project and not attend, authorise or support the calling of an authorisation meeting to consider approving an ILUA (to this end we note that a meeting to authorise an ILUA has been called by unidentified persons for 16 April 2016 in Maryborough);
(b) Not attend, support or authorise the calling of any future authorisation meeting to consider authorising an ILUA with Adani (or any successor) for the Carmichael Project unless before doing so it has been given express approval from the claim group to enter negotiations and to call a subsequent authorisation meeting of the claim group for that purpose; and
(c) Repay to Adani any and all monies received (other than travelling and accommodation allowances) since 4 October 2014 for attending negotiations with Adani for an ILUA in respect to the Carmichael Project.”

Carried unanimously.

 

Conveners’ statement to the meeting 

We have convened this meeting because of our concerns with the way the majority of the Applicant has been conducting business amongst themselves and with Adani Mining.

We believe our claim group’s decisions to reject an ILUA with Adani in October 2014, and earlier in December 2012, have been undermined. We say that the Applicant does not have a mandate to go ahead and open new negotiations with Adani. We put our objections on the record and also noted that decisions of the Applicant upon which they relied to do deals with Adani were invalid and unauthorised.

We believe it is up to our people to decide whether we wish to revisit our decisions and not that of Adani and some lawyers and a handful of Applicants.
Adani is not offering self-determination. They are trying to get us to agree to a deal when they cannot say the mine will even go ahead. There is no money to build the mine and the Government won’t give approvals until Adani can demonstrate that they have it. No banks will give them money and most financial analysts and energy agencies say the mine will not be built.

We do not need to sign away rights and our land for an ILUA on the hope of a mine. If Adani cares about our people they can offer contracts and benefits and jobs under their Indigenous Participation Plan, if the mine is ever built.

This is a bad deal in our view. And our people have the right to say no. We made our decisions, why we should we be forced back by a mining company to have to change our mind. They are not offering anything different to what they did previously.

The majority of the Applicants agreed to employ Phillip Hunter of HW Ebsworth to review the proposed ILUA and ancillary agreements. In his review package this is what he has to say:

“As part of the Applicant’s re-engagement with Adani, we were requested by the Applicant to undertake a review of the ILUA and Ancillary Agreement which were taken to the authorisation meeting on 4 October 2014… The review that we undertook was not to re-negotiate the terms of the ILUA and Ancillary Agreement, but to identify necessary amendments to the ILUA and Ancillary Agreement having regard to the above developments.”
So the deal we are being offered is essentially the same as that rejected by the claim group at October 2014 authorization meeting.

How good a deal is it? Well, we have consulted native title lawyers, and believe it is miserly.

Firstly, the mine site covers a huge area of our traditional land (approximately 280 square kilometers). While it is difficult to quantify what would be a fair payment for its affect upon your traditional lands, the negotiations for the rail corridor provide some guide.

The Birriah people, for example, have negotiated a tonnage rate for every tonne coal shipped along Adani’s proposed rail corridor but the same arrangement is not being offered to the Wangan and Jagalingou people for the 60,000 tonnes per year of coal that is going to be extracted from the mine. It is well known in native title circles that in the Pilbara and Kimberley iron ore regions native title compensation is paid on a tonnage extracted from the mines. As a result many traditional owner groups have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars by mining companies for the effects on native title. All Adani are offering to pay is $510,000.00 per year.

Perhaps the meanest insult is the offer to pay the princely sum of $398,750 for the surrender of 2750 HA of native title land. On our traditional lands, due to the large extent of extinguishment that has already occurred, native title is at a premium. Adani boasts that they will compensate for the loss of 9,700 hectares of habitat for the Black Throated Finch by creating offset areas of 30,000 hectares yet they do not offer one scrap of land to us for the extinguishment of our native title. Once Native Title is lost, it is forever. It can’t grow back or recover.

In an attempt to sweeten what would otherwise be a bitter pill, Adani points to the potential for employment and contracting opportunities. A similar situation occurred with our neighbours, the Iman people. They were offered a contract worth $5 million per year to run the catering canteens for the big coal seam gas projects that occurred on their traditional lands. They were told they would get 120 jobs in the process. They had to tender at competitive rates, and use their own capital to set things up. In the end the project went belly up because the income generated from the contract was not sufficient to pay wages, taxes and outgoings. Iman Nation was placed into liquidation. In the process they lost the only property they owned and an estimated $3 million of their own money.

The only full time jobs Adani are projecting from the business and contracting opportunities that they offer are 50 jobs for a Wangan and Jagalingou Bus company. They estimate that these workers will be paid $35,000.00 per year (that’s just $650pw before tax). In Australia (as opposed to India) the minimum wage is $34,158.80per annum plus superannuation at 9.25%. We doubt whether anybody will want to work for $35,000.00 per annum especially having regard to the remote location. All the rest of the jobs are casual (20 cultural heritage workers and 30 environmental and land officers).

In our view, Adani’s promise of jobs needs to be critically evaluated and not accepted at face value. If they eventuate at all, the employment opportunities on offer are likely to be low paid, unskilled and the profitability of the contracts marginal at best.

Adrian Burragubba, Linda Bobongie, Delia Kemppi, Aunty Lester Barnard, Lyndell Turbane
The Authorisation Meeting Conveners

 

Why the Carmichael mine will not go ahead in the foreseeable future

Advice from
Professor John Quiggin
ARC Australian Laureate Fellow
School of Economics
Faculty of Business, Economics and Law

March 18, 2016

Unlikely to cover cash costs
At current world coal prices (below $US50), it is unlikely that the mine could cover its operating costs. Around one-third of Queensland mines are operating at a loss, according toe the Queensland Mining Council. Many are only continuing to operate because they are locked into ‘take-or-pay’ contracts to transport coal.

No capacity to service debt
Even in the unlikely event that it could cover cash costs, there is no possible way that investment in Carmichael could be profitable at current prices. Adani requires at least $10 billion in debt to finance the project. The interest cost and principal repayment required would be around $1 billion per year. With an output of 40 million tonnes a year, this would need an operating profit of $25/tonne, which is impossible at current prices. The obvious conclusion is that no bank would lend money to such project, and this is in fact the case

No finance
The non-viability of the project is illustrated by a long list of banks and other funding sources have announced that they won’t finance the project, or have pulled out of announced and existing finance arrangements.
The list includes the Commonwealth (formerly a big lender to Adani), NAB, the Queensland Treasury, the State Bank of India, and global banks including Standard Chartered (another former big lender), Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Agrilcole and Societe Generale.
The US and Korean Export-Import banks have been touted as possible sources, but appear to have backed away. Even the Abbott-Turnbull $5 billion fund for Northern Australia now appears unlikely to support Adani.
Adani’s only active operation, the Abbot Point coal terminal has recently had its debt downgraded to junk status, largely because of inadequate demand.  This would not have happened if the ratings agencies believed that the project will go ahead.

Project mothballed
While claiming that the project will be up and running by 2017, Adani has effectively put it into mothballs. Adani sacked the engineering team from Worsley Parsons and the construction group from Posco (also a supposed equity partner) last year. A $2 billion announcement of work for Downer EDI seems to have turned to nothing. The obvious interpretation is that Adani are hoping to get all the necessary permissions in place to give them an option in the unlikely event of an upturn in the coal price.

What benefits might be obtained from the project
Promises of jobs and royalties (or similar revenue sharing payments) from the project are nearly valueless since they depend on the project going ahead, which is very unlikely. The only financial benefits worth negotiating for are unconditional upfront payments.

__________________________

John Quiggin is an Australian Laureate Fellow in Economics at the University of Queensland. He is prominent both as a research economist and as a commentator on Australian economic policy. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and many other learned societies and institutions. He has produced over 1500 publications, including six books and over 200 refereed journal articles, in fields including decision theory, environmental economics, production economics, and the theory of economic growth. He has also written on policy topics including climate change, micro-economic reform, privatisation, employment policy and the management of the Murray-Darling river system. 

 

Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine: how it will affect Wangan and Jagalingou country

Multi-billion dollar Indian company Adani is pushing to build the Carmichael Mine, one of the world’s biggest coal mines, on our country in the Galilee Basin. The mine includes six huge open cut pits and five underground mines. The mine is more than 45 kilometres long and will destroy more than 280 square kilometres of our land – more than twice the size of Toowoomba. There will also be a railway passing through our land to the Great Barrier Reef coast. A new port will be built at Abbot Point near Bowen on the Barrier Reef to ship the coal to India. The mine is proposed to operate for about 60 years and dig up 2 billion tonnes of coal – enough to make a road that “could stretch around the world five times.” But if it’s ever built it will more likely be a ‘white elephant’ as the whole world moves away from coal, and will never make money.
What’s at risk?
The Carmichael mine will destroy our traditional lands and waters, and the animals and plants of our country.  And the damage will be felt way beyond the Galilee Basin, hitting Queensland communities and the Great Barrier Reef. The carbon pollution from the coal will increase global warming. It will place a heavy burden on future generations here and across the world. Our decisions affect many other people, along with W&J people and our descendants.
If we allow this project to go ahead as Adani plans, we risk losing forever a huge part of our traditional homelands, and our connection with our lands since time immemorial. We will suffer:
Permanent damage to our waterways. The mine will take a massive 750 billion litres of water from the Burdekin Basin, which flows into the wetlands and to the Great Barrier Reef, and will harm the Carmichael and Belyando rivers. Huge amounts of groundwater will be stripped from the land and our ecosystems will suffer. The one million year-old freshwater Doongmabulla Springs oasis will likely dry up, and the many plants and animals it supports will perish.

Loss of our plants and animals. One of the many species that live on our land, the black-throated finch, will most likely be made extinct by the loss of habitat. Fourteen other species of migratory birds will be threatened. Other animals that are part of our country such as koalas, the ornamental snake and the yakka skink may be lost, along with our tree species such as the waxy cabbage palm.

There will also be:
• Harm to people and land from the Galilee to the Coast. The railway line from the mine site running hundreds of kilometres to Abbot Point coal port will carve up even more land, interfere with the plants, animals and the environment along the way, dump tonnes of coal dust, and increase flood risks.

Widespread damage to the Great Barrier Reef. The coal will be shipped through the reef to India. Dredging and dumping of the seabed for Adani’s Abbot Point coal port will damage coral, and kill and harm marine life. When the coal is burnt, it will increase global warming. This is warming our oceans and bleaching and killing coral, threatening the survival of our Great Barrier Reef.

Increased carbon pollution from the burning of coal. This coal mine would be so big, each year it will create four times the total carbon pollution emissions of the whole country of New Zealand – 128.4 million tonnes. This poses serious harm for our future generations, who will be worst hit by climate change, and for the world’s people.

About Adani
Multibillion-dollar company Adani has a murky past, and a disastrous environmental track record in its home country of India.  There have been reports of the company being involved in bribery and corruption.

More worrying, Adani has a history of destroying environments and the livelihoods of traditional communities where they operate, as well as failing to follow the government regulations that are there to protect the people and their environment.

The destruction this project will cause has raised widespread opposition from concerned people in the community, including several state and federal court cases, some of which are still ongoing. People around the world are rightly concerned about this proposed mine.
Questions remain about whether Adani will be able to finance the mine. Many of the biggest banks in Australia and around the world have said it is a bad bet, and that they will not fund it.

Adani has told lies about the mine’s benefits to Queensland in terms of the economy and jobs. Adani admitted in court that its claim the mine will create 10,000 jobs is wrong, when the real figure is around 1400. There is no certainty this mine will ever go ahead, and it is probable that the promises of jobs may be empty.

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‘Three strikes you’re out’ – Traditional Owners reject Adani Carmichael mine for a third time

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‘Three strikes you’re out’ – Traditional Owners reject Adani Carmichael mine for a third time
QLD Mines Minister Anthony Lynham must now step up and rule out issuing of mining leases

In a landmark moment of self-determination and a major blow to the Adani Carmichael coal mine, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people, traditional owners of the proposed mine site in QLD’s Galilee Basin, on the weekend voted for the third time to reject a land deal with Indian giant Adani for its proposed mega-mine.

W&J traditional owners came from all over Queensland to a meeting of the claim group and made it clear they will not be dictated to by a mining giant and manipulated by a complicit Government.

W&J traditional owner and spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba said, “Our people voted unanimously at an authorisation meeting to reject Adani’s repackaged deal, and to condemn them for falsely representing the position of the W&J people. We confirmed that no further negotiations with Adani will take place”.

The vote on Saturday follows two previous decisions of the majority to reject the Carmichael Mine, in 2012 and 2014, and heads off a third attempt by Adani to force a land use deal onto the W&J people.

If ever built, Adani’s massive mine, the biggest in Australian history and in the southern hemisphere, would leave a legacy of destruction and waste across W&J’s homelands and permanently damage their ancient spiritual connection to country. But the Traditional Owners have made it clear they reject Adani and their duplicitous ways.

“No longer will Adani and our Governments, and their backers in the media, get to dictate the terms of engagement. We decide for ourselves what we want to do and what we want for our future generations. We will not trade away our human rights for the false promises of a foreign-owned mining company,”, he said.

“Our people unambiguously refused any agreement with Adani to dig the Carmichael mine on our country. If they try to take our lands, or strong-arm us with their phoney compensation deals, we’ll see them in court.

“This is a milestone in the sorry tale of the proponents’ efforts to force this monstrosity of a mine on us. Three strikes, Adani, and you’re out. And our Governments better take notice too. Their discriminatory and coercive system for approving mining leases and administering native title, which denies us our rights, is being exposed.

“The W&J’s decision means the QLD government will finally have to face the dilemma of accepting that when we say no we mean no, or acquiring our land against our will, extinguishing or impairing our native title rights and interests. Will they steal our lands out from under us through compulsory acquisition, and hand foreign multibillionaire Adani a mining lease? This would be a despicable act that returns us to the ugly and brutal past of Queensland and Australian history,” said Mr Burragubba.

“We will not let the Queensland government hide behind a mining company and absolve itself of responsibility, as if they don’t hold the whip hand in the dismantling of our rights.

W&J traditional owner and spokesperson Murrawah Johnson said, “Last week, we had the contemptible spectacle of QLD Mines Minister Anthony Lynham, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and Environment Minister Steven Miles sitting in our Parliament and gutlessly backing a bipartisan motion to develop the Adani mine.

“Now, the only responsible course of action left to Mines Minister Anthony Lynham is to rule out issuing mining leases for Carmichael. Our internationally recognised legal rights include the right to free, prior and informed consent – we have not given our consent and we will not be bullied into giving it”.

“If Adani and its backers in government persist in their efforts to impose this mine without our consent, we will challenge this country’s failed native title regime. We will stand against the Queensland and Federal government’s neglect. And we will reserve our right to take action against Adani for its continual interference in our affairs, its attempts to throw its power and money around to buy off and dupe our people, and its devious efforts to engineer an agreement that crushes our rights and interests”, said Ms Johnson.

“In the Federal Court, we have already exposed Adani’s fraudulent claims that their travesty would create 10,000 jobs. Adani was forced to admit that if their mine was ever built the real figure would be around 1400”, Adrian Burragubba said. “But these aren’t real jobs. There is no mine, and their offer is hollow.

“Colour brochures full of empty promises and inducements to sign deals are insulting. They will never gain our consent to the permanent and irreversible destruction of our homelands, and the violation of our connection to country from time immemorial. We deserve better than being thrown the bait of a few poorly paid jobs in a dirty coal pit or driving buses – while Adani hopes to rake in billions of dollars.

“On any account, the supposed ‘benefits’ of this coal mine, employment, financial or otherwise, do not justify its broadscale destruction – of our sacred land, waterways, totemic trees and animals and of the climate, which will affect all peoples of the world. There is no reasonable case for it to go ahead on any grounds.

“The big investment banks, which have already deserted the project in droves, can see that. The top financial analysts, who say this project is a dud and unbankable, can see that. The community, who are backing us in their hundreds of thousands, can see that”, Mr Burragubba said.

Murrawah Johnson said, “Our people and our country will not be “disappeared” by a foreign coal giant working through its lapdogs in our federal and state governments, and putting a glossy face on a diabolical project.

“We are bigger than that. We are staying strong together. It is our responsibility to nurture our future generations as we have done for millennia past. Our people have spoken. Adani, the QLD government, and its counterparts in the federal government have been told. We’ve said it loud and clear, and once and for all: ‘When we say no, we mean no’.”

For comment:
W&J traditional owners and spokespeople
Adrian Burragubba 0428 949 115
Murrawah Johnson 0439 919 891
For background:
Anthony Esposito 0418 152 743