THE WANGAN & JAGALINGOU DECLARATION TO BANKS
WE, THE WANGAN & JAGALINGOU PEOPLE, INDIGENOUS TRADITIONAL OWNERS OF THE GALILEE BASIN IN THE CENTRAL REGION OF THE AUSTRALIAN STATE OF QUEENSLAND:
1.1 The Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate, propose to build the AUD$16.5bn Carmichael coal mine and rail project, one of the largest in the world, on our land – land that our people have held sacred for as long as anyone can remember. The mine will have a footprint of over 28,000 hectares, seven times the size of Sydney Harbour. The project will also include rail infrastructure to the coast, where a new port will be established, risking damage to the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.
1.2 The mine will tear out the heart of our country, permanently destroying our ancestral homelands, as well as sites and species we have held sacred for generations. This threatens the survival of our culture, and our ability to pass that culture onto our future generations.
1.3. We have not given our consent to the Adani Group or the state of Queensland for the development of the mine. Nor will we ever give consent, as we simply cannot consent to the destruction of our ancestral lands, cultural heritage and the environment. Nor can we allow a project that will contribute so substantially to the unfolding and direct effects of climate change that pose such great risks to all people. We formally rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement under Australia’s native title legislation that would have given our permission to the grant of mining leases for the mine. And we are currently appealing a decision of the Australian Native Title Tribunal that mining leases could be issued for the mine on our land.
1.4 Under international law, including as reflected in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we have the right to decide whether the Carmichael mine may be developed on our land. This is because harm caused by the mine is so significant that it will violate our rights to culture, physical and spiritual well-being, and self-determination – all of which are protected by international law.
1.5 Private entities, such as banks, have a responsibility to respect human rights that are protected under international law. They must also conform their behaviour to international human rights norms and ensure they do not ratify or contribute to any infringement of human rights. This responsibility is clearly enumerated in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which has been unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
1.6 The Equator Principles, adopted by 80 financial institutions worldwide, also require that projects with adverse impacts on Indigenous peoples as significant as the impacts of the Carmichael mine must have their free, prior and informed consent. Any signatory bank to the Equator Principles that commits to funding Carmichael will be in direct breach of those principles.
1.7 The Carmichael mine project presents a significant financial risk, due to its high infrastructure requirements and transportation costs against a low thermal coal price. The illegality of development of the mine in the absence of our consent also creates an uncertainty as to the viability of the mine project, which creates additional financial risk for any investors in the mine.
2.1 We request that Banks recognise and respect that the Wangan & Jagalingou do not consent to the development of the Carmichael mine on our traditional lands.
2.2. We request that Banks recognise that the determination of how our ancestral lands and waters are treated is a human right protected under international law.
2.3 We request that Bank honour the Equator Principles and commit to not fund the Carmichael coal mine project, or other proposed coal mines in the Galilee Basin.
- PROMISE: We will do whatever it takes to protect our sacred ancestral lands and waters, our rights and our interests, and to stop the financing of this mine and to see that the Carmichael mine does not go ahead.
Adrian Burragubba, senior representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council, for the Wangan and Jagalingou people. May 2015
MEDIA RELEASE – Friday 29 May 2015
Adani’s Carmichael woes escalate: Traditional owners file Federal Court challenge, mount World Banks Tour to block finance
Brisbane, Australia: Indian giant Adani’s planned Carmichael coalmine in the northern state of Queensland has hit double trouble as Traditional Owners today announce a landmark Federal Court challenge, on the eve of their world tour to urge Wall St and European investment banks to shun the damaging project.
The Wangan and Jagalingou people, Indigenous Traditional Owners of central Queensland’s coal-rich Galilee Basin, have vowed to stop the AUD $16.5bn Carmichael mine – the biggest in Australian history and one of the world’s largest. If the mine goes ahead, the W&J’s vast traditional lands and their ancient connection to country would be “disappeared” forever.
W&J Traditional Owner and spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said, “This is a very special day, on which we significantly step up our campaign to make sure Carmichael never gets built.
“First, we announce that we have filed an appeal and judicial review in the Federal Court of Australia. This court action challenges the decision of Australia’s National Native Title Tribunal that the Queensland government may issue mining leases for Carmichael. This challenge is unprecedented in the history of Native Title Tribunal decisions. If necessary, we will take our case all the way to the High Court”, Mr Burragubba said.
“But this disastrous mine needs billions of dollars of finance if it is to ever go ahead”, said Mr Burragubba. “We also announce today that in 48 hours, on Sunday 31 May, we will embark a world tour to hold high-level talks with investment banks on Wall St, in European finance capitals, and in Asia.
“We will communicate to the banks that we do not consent to Carmichael, and the reasons we cannot allow this mine to go ahead. We will remind them that any bank that funds Carmichael will be breaching important human rights principles to which they are signatory; principles requiring that projects that affect Indigenous Owners have their consent. We’ll urge them to honour their obligations and commit to ruling out funding,” said Mr Burragubba.
While in North America, the W&J will also meet with First Nations Traditional Owners opposing massive fossil fuel projects, including the tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada.
W&J Traditional Owner and spokesperson Murrawah Johnson said, “This tour is an incredible opportunity to meet with, learn from and form alliances with other Traditional Owners internationally. By building solidarity across the globe we can strengthen and draw inspiration for our individual battles to protect land, culture and way of life from destructive mining. We look forward to sharing stories and insights with our brothers and sisters in North America”.
Ms Johnson said, “State and Federal governments have trampled our rights and interests and approved the mine. Adani tried to divide and conquer after we rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and refused their ‘shut-up’ money. Australia’s Native Title Tribunal has also dispossessed us, saying the mining leases may go ahead.
“We won’t take it. We will do whatever is necessary to stand up for Country. We will ensure that Adani and its friends in government and finance understand that when we say no, we mean no”, said Ms Johnson. “Our legal challenge and World Banks Tour are key to that plan.”
Mr Burragubba said, “We won’t rest until this disastrous project is thrown on the scrapheap of history. Our culture will live strong and thrive into the future as it has from time immemorial.”
— ENDS —
Australia: Alison Orme 0423 332 104 / Annemarie Jonson 0428 278 880
International: James Lorenz +61 400 376 021.
Video of Adrian Burragubba speaking on W&J country here.
Images from original W&J campaign launch March 2015 inc. of spokespeople Adrian Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson, plus launch collateral here.
W&J Declaration to Banks here.
Briefing on Federal Court challenge here.
Backgrounder on Adani and Carmichael here.
W&J World Tour Itinerary [subject to change – to be advised]
[Australian media: opportunities for live crosses or recorded interviews from media events in key locations, including NYC, DC, London. Phone/ skype interviews available throughout. Media packages of images / footage will be released to media post-event throughout the tour.]
Mon June 1 – San Francisco – W&J spokespeople available for interview.
Tues 2 June
San Francisco – W&J will meet First Nations peoples. After 2pm – opportunity to interview W&J spokespeople and First Nations spokespeople re their historic meeting.
Wed 3 and Thurs 4 June
Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada – W&J will meet First Nations peoples opposing tar sands projects. Opportunity for interviews and filming on site in tar sands region; and to cover media event involving W&J with First Nations communities tbc.
Fri 5 to Sun 7 June
Travel to NYC and rest; interviews may be available by arrangement in NYC on weekend tbc.
Mon 8 June
NYC – Meetings with investment banks Goldman Sachs, Citi, Bank of America; late PM, media action, banks declaration, with music, dance and ceremony by Australian indigenous owners W&J outside BoA, midtown Manhattan, details tbc. W&J spokespeople available for interview.
Tues 9 June NYC – W&J spokespeople available for interview; PM travel to Washington DC.
Wed 10 June
Washington DC – Meetings with US Export Import Bank; media event tbc, possibly involving W&J together with First Nations peoples opposing coal expansion in Powder River Basin, Utah tbc. W&J spokespeople available for interview.
Thurs 11 June – Travel to London.
Fri 12 June
London – meet Standard Chartered; public/media event outside bank. Details tbc. W&J spokespeople available for interview.
Sat 13 and Sun 14 June – Rest and travel to Zurich. Interviews may be available by arrangement tbc.
Mon 15 June
Zurich – meet investment banks UBS and Credit Suisse. Media event outside bank tbc. W&J spokespeople available for interview.
Tues 16 June – Travel to Hong Kong.
Wed 17 June
HK – meetings with HSBC. Media event tbc. W&J spokespeople available for interview.