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

 

W & J PEOPLE AUTHORISATION MEETING: THE FACTS

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W & J PEOPLE AUTHORISATION MEETING: THE FACTS

This statement corrects the record in relation to a false and misleading media report in The Australian newspaper of 12 March 2016 by Michael McKenna on a forthcoming Authorisation meeting of the Wangan and Jagalingou People:

An Authorisation meeting relating to current dealings with Adani on the Carmichael coal mine has been called of the Wangan and Jagalingou Native Title Claim Group for 19 March, and was publicly advertised in the Courier Mail on Saturday 27 February and the Koori Mail on Wednesday 9 March.

The Wangan and Jagalingou People are the traditional owners of their ancestral lands in central Queensland, which are slated for the Carmichael mine. They have twice formally rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani for Carmichael – in 2012 and 2014 – on the grounds that the mine, the biggest in Australian history, would destroy their ancestral homelands; irreversibly devastate their cultural heritage; and offer little in return for such a massive loss.

The meeting has been called by five members of the Native Title Applicant group because of concerns that recent negotiations with Adani Mining have proceeded without the authority of the W&J people, and that some Applicants have received sitting fees for disclosing those negotiations without disclosing the benefits they have received.

The meeting is a valid and legal meeting. It is open to any member of the Claim Group to call a meeting of the people. No one has challenged this, irrespective of the fact that pro-mining interests are trying to cast doubt on it.

Karrina Nolan, who is egregiously misrepresented in the story, was engaged by the conveners of the meeting solely in her capacity as an independent contractor to provide an attendance registration service in relation to the Authorisation Meeting. Ms Nolan is Yorta Yorta, an independent consultant, and is an advisor to  young Indigenous group SEED.

 

A detailed response to the inaccurate claims in The Australian article follows:

1.Green activists are behind an 11th-hour bid to to scuttle a land-use agreement between the W&J and Adani.

This claim has no basis in fact. A group of W&J Traditional Owners are convening a meeting of their own people on their own behalf in accordance with the rules.  No land use agreement exists – and any suggestion that one does pre-empts the rightful decision of the Claim Group.

 

  1. The Wangan and Jagalingou people were set to finalise the lucrative [indigenous land use agreement] deal on Monday.

The meeting of the applicant planned for Monday has no authority to enter into an ILUA. The proposed ILUA is not lucrative – W&J people get little out of this deal – the jobs are few and low paid. Most of the benefits are illusory especially if the coal mine never goes ahead; and it appears there is a pitiful payment for the surrender of native title. At any rate, this is a matter for the Claim Group who have twice previously rejected this ILUA.

 

  1. [The Monday meeting] follows a vote of the group’s 12 registered native title applicants last December.

The vote in December was not a valid decision and was falsely represented as such in the Australian newspaper at the time. Minutes of the meeting prove the decision was not carried. In any case, the vote is immaterial as the Applicant does not have authority to commit to a land use agreement.

 

  1. [A previous land use agreement] fell apart after anti-coal activists bankrolled Adani opponents within the indigenous group, who then voted against supporting the mine.

Factually incorrect – the W&J people voted down the deal and then appealed for support to defend their decision. This support is widespread, the bulk of it from the community of supporters, pro bono lawyers, and a range of donors.

 

  1. Elder Irene White…

Irene White is not an elder.

 

  1. The group faces a new challenge over its authority to negotiate a deal with Adani from a Victorian-based green campaigner.

Factually incorrect and misleading. The contact person on a public notice, in this case Karrina Nolan, is not responsible for the convening of the meeting – which is called by five applicants and traditional owners who have the right to convene a Claim Group meeting.

 

  1. The meeting [is] to be held in inner Brisbane — hundreds of kilometres away from [the W&J’s] traditional country and where many of them live.

This is factually incorrect. W&J people are dispersed throughout Queensland with the largest concentration of the community in and around Brisbane. In addition, it is a matter of record that the many previous Claim Group meetings take place in Brisbane or otherwise not on W&J country.  The ILUA meetings being proposed by Adani for either Bundaberg or Maryborough would not happen anywhere near the W&J traditional lands.

 

  1. Ms White said she was “disgusted that outsiders’’ were again trying to sabotage widespread support for the mine within the indigenous group.

The Traditional Owners calling the meeting of their own group are not outsiders. Support is untested – that’s what the Claim Group meeting on 19 March will do and it is proposed to reject all dealings with Adani.

 

  1. “Last year, there was majority support in a vote of the native title applicants to go ahead with the negotiations. It was legal and there is huge support in the mob because it will bring our people jobs”, Irene White said.

This is an assertion unsupported by evidence. The Claim Group meeting of October 2014 voted down a land use agreement with Adani by majority, as it had previously done in 2012. The only evidence of the people’s view on Adani and its ILUA are these two meetings of the claim group.

 

  1. “Last month, this public notice appears from another greenie,  an Aboriginal woman from Victoria, to stop the agreement. Our legal advice is that it has no legal standing”, [said Ms White].

The public notice was from the five members who are calling the meeting, not from Ms Nolan who is simply a contact point for registering interest in the meeting. The members are aware of their legal rights to hold the meeting, which is valid.

 

  1. Ms Nolan did not respond to calls or emails.

Completely untrue. Ms Nolan replied to the reporter by email, confirming that she was engaged by the five members of the W&J Applicant as an independent contractor to provide an attendance registration service for the Authorisation Meeting.

 

  1. Seven of the 12 native title applicants voted last year to negotiate with Adani and are expected to finalise an in-principle agreement on Monday. The agreement will then be presented to a meeting of the 12 families of the indigenous group within the next few weeks for final approval.

As noted previously, the vote was not valid. Only six members voted at the time and the resolution was not passed. This  statement also betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the land use agreement process. First and foremost, it pre-empts any decision of the Claim Group meeting, the group with the authority to enter into or reject an land use agreement, which will take place on Saturday 19 March.

 

  1. Adrian Burragubba awaits a decision on his challenge to the mine in the Federal Court in a case that challenges a decision of the National Native Title Tribunal to allow the granting of a mining lease … Last year, a Federal Court judge described the case as “shambolic’’.

The case has attracted legal representation including Senior Counsel acting pro bono for Mr Burragubba. It has been the subject of four days of hearing in the Federal Court. A matter relating to the status of the Native Title party was referred to the Attorney General. Adani invested its senior legal resources in two full days of legal argument. Mr Burragubba’s Senior Counsel made a substantial summing up on the fraudulent nature of Adani’s conduct, which is now before the judge for consideration.

Adrian Burragubba; Linda Bobongie; Lester Barnard; Delia Kemppie; Lyndell Turbane

W&J Traditional Owners and Native Title Applicants

Naomi Klein nominates W&J Youth Leader for inaugural list of international ‘movers and shakers’

IMG_6779Wangan and Jagalingou youth leader, Murrawah Johnson, has been added to the Grist 50 list of movers and shakers by Naomi Klein.

The Grist 50 is a list of the best and brightest fighting for the planet, curated by Grist. Grist is based in Seattle, in the State of Washington, with contributors scattered the world ’round. It’s a nonprofit organization providing a source of intelligent, irreverent environmental news and commentary. Grist reaches a community of more than 2 million people a month.

Naomi Klein is a world leading activist, author and film maker who has been touring the world motivating people to take radical action on climate change. Her influential book, This Changes Everything, is a call to action and a guide to the sort of change we need TODAY.

Naomi has recognised Murrawah’s extraordinary talent and commitment to protecting her ancestral lands from the irreversible destruction of the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere proposed by Indian conglomerate Adani. The impact of the mine were it to ever go ahead, would be a massive release of carbon at the very time the world is moving away from polluting fossil fuels.

Murrawah is deeply committed to securing the future of her lands and people and also playing a role in the global movement led by Indigenous people to prevent adverse climate change. She is also State coordinator of SEED, the first Indigenous Youth Climate Network in Australia and perhaps the world.

 

QLD GOVERNMENT PLANS TO EXTINGUISH NATIVE TITLE FOR ADANI’S COAL MINE A NEW LOW IN VIOLATING TRADITIONAL OWNERS’ RIGHTS

MEDIA RELEASE: FRIDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2015

QLD GOVERNMENT PLANS TO EXTINGUISH NATIVE TITLE FOR ADANI’S COAL MINE A NEW LOW IN VIOLATING TRADITIONAL OWNERS’ RIGHTS

‘Not here, not now, not this time’ say Traditional Owners

Adrian Burragubba, senior spokesperson of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners’ Council, has strongly condemned plans by Queensland’s Coordinator General Barry Broe, under the imprimatur of Minister for Mines Anthony Lynham, to extinguish native title on parts of the W&J’s traditional lands in the Galilee Basin in order to enable Indian giant Adani to develop infrastructure for its $16.5bn Carmichael coal mine, the biggest in Australian history.

The plans were revealed in documents obtained by the ABC.

Mr Burragubba said, “It is beyond comprehension that the Government would consider such a shameful and absurd proposal in an era when our rights are sanctioned under international law; and when we are already in the Federal Court contesting the State Government and Adani’s attempts to override our rights.”

“Premier Palaszczuk needs to rule out this outrageous proposal immediately”, Mr Burragubba said. “I assure the Premier she will be bringing on one of the biggest human rights battles we’ve seen in Queensland in a long time. If destroying our rights and handing our lands to a foreign mining company is on her agenda, she better think again.”

Mr Burragubba vowed to fight any proposal to extinguish native title on the W&J people’s land by force. “This proposal won’t stand,” he said. “Not here, not now, not this time. We will fight this all the way to the High Court if need be”.

“We do not consent to Carmichael mine, and we never will. We have twice rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani. This week, we took on Adani and the Queensland Government in the Federal Court, and our case resumes in February.

“It would be pre-empting the outcome of those proceedings for the Government to attempt to compulsorily acquire our native title. The Government should face up to the justice system and argue its case properly; and not resort to a forcible takeover of our lands so they can be destroyed by a coal mining company.

“It would be a shocking precedent for a government in Australia to extinguish title over land against the express opposition of traditional owners, and to hand that land to a private business interest – in this case a massive foreign miner with a disgraceful record of destroying environments and disrupting traditional communities overseas.

“These revelations that our rights in land could be stolen away from us by Minister Lynham and the Queensland Government are an ugly new low in violating the rights of Indigenous peoples of this country.

“The Government must also clarify the information in the Coordinator General’s document that we did not object to compulsory acquisition. Our rejection of the ILUA and the Federal Court challenge are our clear, unambiguous and final signal to Adani and its backers in the Queensland government, like Mines Minister Lynham, that we vehemently object to the taking of our land and the destruction of our culture and heritage without our consent.

“Adani’s disastrous mega-mine threatens to devastate my people’s lands and waters. It will annihilate the ancient, spiritual connection to Country that makes us who we are. Its scale and impacts mean our Country would literally disappear.

“We will fight this mine until we secure our rights to self-determination in and on our land. We will pursue our rights through the Courts. And we will continue the work we are doing through United Nations to stop this mine and assert our rights.

“My people’s future is in self-determination without dependency on mining. Let us be clear again: when we refuse our consent, No Means No.”

Contacts:

For further comment – Adrian Burragubba – 0428 949 115

For background – Anthony Esposito – 0418 152 743

 

Wangan & Jagalingou leader in historic meeting with Kiribati president

MEDIA RELEASE – November 19, 2015

Wangan & Jagalingou leader in historic meeting with Kiribati president

Joins president’s call for no new coal mines; seeks support to defend W&J’s rights and country

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owner, and senior spokesperson Adrian Burragubba, will this morning meet with President Anote Tong of Kiribati and offer support to his call for a global moratorium on new coal mines. The meeting will bring together for the first time two leaders of traditional peoples in the region vulnerable to the devastating impacts of coal mining and burning.

President Anote Tong has called for no new coal mines, as coal-driven climate change and resulting sea level rise present a grave existential threat to his people, and to continued life on his island nation.

Mr. Burragubba said “My people have heard the concerns of the President on behalf of the people of Kiribati and empathise with them. As traditional people, we too face devastation of our lands, our culture and our people by coal”.

Mr. Burragubba said the Federal and Queensland Governments must put  a halt to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine on Wangan and Jagalingou traditional lands – the biggest mine in Australian history – which will destroy W&J’s ancestral Country, and escalate climate change.

“The W&J people have said No to Adani’s Carmichael mine, time and again, yet our Governments have overridden our rights and are giving it their approval. This mine  would obliterate our country and drain and poison our waters. It would destroy ancient and irreplaceable cultural landscapes and heritage sites. It would sever our deep and abiding connection to our ancestral lands. And it would play a massive part in detonating ‘a carbon bomb’, fueling run-away climate change and leading to the very thing President Tong fears for his nation”.

Mr. Burragubba will seek President Tong’s support in the struggle of the W&J people to stop this devastating project.

“As first nations people, Indigenous people, we have rights recognised under international law and the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – including to withhold our consent to mining on our land. We ask President Tong to join us in our efforts to ensure this destructive mega-mine never goes ahead; to use his good offices to encourage Governments in Australia to respect our rights, and to consider the catastrophic global impacts of their support  for Carmichael, and for coal more generally”, he said.

“We welcome this dialogue with President Tong”, said Mr. Burragubba, “as an important first step in the collaborative efforts of our traditional peoples to draw a line in the sand, say “enough is enough”, and fight to preserve our homelands, our ways of life, and the very future of our children from the impacts of coal. ”.

President Tong will be joined by Mr. Burragubba and other guests — Professor Tim Flannery, Councilor at the Climate Council and former Australian of the Year and Blair Palese, CEO of 350.org – at the No New Coal Mines public talk at the Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, from 6.30pm.

For further comment: Adrian Burragubba, Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owner, and senior spokesperson for the W&J family council – 0428 949 115

For background: Anthony Esposito – 0418 152 743

Letter // Submission regarding Australia’s failure to protect the Wangan and Jagalingou People’s rights to culture from the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine

WJ letterhead 1

 

2 October 2015

Ms. Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
c/o OHCHR‐UNOG, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Palais Wilson 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Re: Submission regarding Australia’s failure to protect the Wangan and Jagalingou People’s rights to culture from the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine

Dear Special Rapporteur Shaheed:

We, the indigenous Wangan and Jagalingou people, write to you in urgent and worrying times as our traditional lands, connection to country and cultural identity are under imminent threat of irreversible destruction from the proposed development of the massive Carmichael Coal Mine by a private company, Adani Mining, with the support of the Australian government. Attached to this letter is a detailed submission for your reference. Although the attached submission is directed to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as you will see from section III of the submission it is also relevant to your mandate because of the impacts to our cultural identify from the proposed coal mine. We have also sent this submission to the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises because of the bad faith actions Adani Mining has taken towards our people.

The Carmichael Coal Mine would be located in our ancestral homelands in central‐western Queensland, Australia. The sheer scale of the Carmichael Mine is difficult to conceive: it will be one of the largest coal mines in the world, covering a vast swathe of our land and causing extensive disturbance and devastation. It is simply not possible to build a mine consisting of six open‐cut pits, five underground mines, a coal handling and processing plant, rail infrastructure, and all other necessary associated infrastructure without causing massive alteration of the environment and significant environmental harm. If the Carmichael Mine proceeds, it would tear the heart out of our country, our culture and our people. It would permanently destroy vast swathes of our traditional lands and waters, including a complex of springs that we hold sacred as the starting point of our life and through which our dreaming totem, the Mundunjudra (also known as the Rainbow Serpent) travelled to form the shape of the land. We exist as people of our land and waters, and all things on and in them – plants and animals – have special meaning to us and tell us who we are. Our land and waters are our culture and our identity. If they are destroyed, we will become nothing. We have never consented to the development of the mine, and we never will.

International law recognizes our fundamental and universal rights to continue enjoying our culture as we have done for thousands of years, and to pass it on to our future generations. The use and enjoyment of our traditional lands and all things on them – which are our cultural goods and services –

are vital to our cultural identities and survival, and must be accessible and available to us if we are to continue to realise and enjoy our right to culture. If the Carmichael Mine proceeds, the extensive land disturbance and destruction would destroy our culture and prevent us from passing it on to our children. We would be unable to maintain and strengthen our relationship with our traditional lands.

By promoting and facilitating the development of this mine, the Australian and Queensland governments are failing to protect and respect our right to maintain and strengthen our spiritual relationship with our ancestral lands, and are failing to ensure the availability of our cultural goods and services – our lands and waters.

For these reasons, which are described in more detail in the attached submission, we respectfully request that you investigate the issues set out in this letter and call on the Australian government to ensure the protection of our human rights. We believe that an expression of concern from your mandate along with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people and the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises would help convince the Australian and Queensland governments to reassess their approvals of the mine in light of its effect on our human rights, and would also help dissuade potential investors from supporting this disastrous mine and the resulting destruction of our culture and lands.

Sincerely,

Adrian Burragubba
Wangan and Jagalingou authorised spokesperson info@wanganjagalingou.com.au
+61 417 607 053

Cc (via electronic mail):

Murrawah Johnson
Wangan and Jagalingou authorised spokesperson info@wanganjagalingou.com.au
+61 439 919 891

Ms. Victoria Tauli‐Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

indigenous@ohchr.org

Letter to SR cultural rights concerning the Wangan and Jagalingou People, 2 Oct 2015