Canavan takes cheap shots at the UN for Adani



Tuesday 5 February 2019

Minister Matt Canavan running a protection racket for Adani, takes cheap shots at the United Nations


FOR DAYS we’ve been entertained by the spectacle of Resources Minister Matt Canavan running a protection racket for Adani, while taking cheap shots at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

A letter he relies on, supposedly from ‘the traditional owners’ and ‘rebuking’ the UN for taking urgent action, has no authority from either the W&J Council or the registered native title Applicant. The sender, Mr Leslie Charles Tilley III, has never been appointed in any capacity as a spokesperson of the W&J people.

But Canavan champions this misrepresentation while deriding the UN for his own political purposes. His mind numbing repetition that a vote of ‘294-1’, taken at Adani’s rent-a-crowd meeting, is somehow a real expression of the W&J people’s sovereignty, is absurd.

The sham Adani ILUA remains before the Federal Court, with a full bench appeal hearing due in May. Justice Roberston said we have “an arguable case of error” in the single judge’s decision. And the UN CERD accepted our request for assistance after concluding there are serious grounds for concern.

Canavan and Adani keep saying that Adrian Burragubba and the W&J Council don’t speak for the Traditional Owners. One thing is absolutely certain… Canavan and Adani don’t.

Neither Canavan nor Adani would know land rights if they fell over them. We will persist with our petitioning of various UN bodies because the legislation and processes in Australia fall well short of international laws and standards to which Australia is a signatory.

The Coalition Government has an appalling record on Aboriginal rights, and we operate under a worse native title regime today than when the UN CERD, more than 20 years ago, found the Howard government’s “10 point plan” changes to the Native Title Act were racially discriminatory.

The mining industry’s Resources Minister, Adani and the Coalition Government: fighters for Aboriginal Land Rights? Canavan must think we’re fools if we believe that. He is not going to run W&J business.


The Path of resistance – Public Event

The Path of resistance

First Nations solidarity and the Wangan & Jagalingou
Traditional Owners’ fight for their future



6:30 Pm to 8:00 PM, 16th JULY 2018

State Library of Queensland, Auditorium 1, Level 2,

Stanley Place, South Brisbane 


This public event is hosted by the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council and the UQ Human Rights Consortium, as part of an international symposium.

The four-day symposium – bringing together national and international Indigenous rights thinkers and activists – is being held at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.

This important evening event at the State Library will be hosted by Tony McAvoy SC, a Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owner and Australia’s first Indigenous Senior Counsel, and will feature

~ Adrian Burragubba, senior Wangan and Jagalingou leader and Traditional Owners Council spokesperson

~ Murrawah Johnson, Wangan and Jagalingou youth leader and Council spokesperson

with special guests

~ Dr. Anne Poelina, Nyikina Traditional Custodian of the Mardoowarra, West Kimberley and Director of Madjulla Inc.

~ Dave Archambault, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe leader during the protest to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

~ Lisa Wade, Council Member, Nay’dini’aa Na’ Kayax (Chickaloon Village Traditional Council)

~ Walter Echo-Hawk, Pawnee Native American attorney, tribal judge, author, activist, and law professor

Hear from these extraordinary leaders who are on the frontline of Indigenous Peoples’ resistance to mining and resource projects that would destroy ancestral lands and damage the global climate.

Guests will speak of their own movements defending their human rights, their lands and waters, and the solidarity they share with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners who are trying to halt Adani’s Carmichael Coal mega-mine on their country, alongside other mines of mass destruction that could be built in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland.

Wangan and Jagalingou leaders will affirm the rights of First Nations people to assert their claim to their ancestral lands in tangible and meaningful ways, including the right to say ‘no’ to major and dangerous extractive projects on their traditional lands.

The current global boom in resource extraction is an accelerating threat to Indigenous lives, livelihoods and culture, through the appropriation and destruction of traditional lands, waters, and natural and cultural resources. This violent ideology of ‘extractivism’ has drawn renewed attention to Indigenous peoples’ rights and their demands that settler societies stop imposing laws and policies in conflict with these rights.

This event will present a compelling First Nations platform, highlighting one of the great challenges in delivering environmental and climate justice today, and calling for a pathway to renewed development approaches where respect for Indigenous peoples’ rights and the realities of a climate constrained world are centred.



High noon in the Galilee

Wangan and Jagalingou law and order

By Adrian Burragubba

Published as the Prologue to The Coal Truth: The fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy, by David Ritter. June 2018

I AM A WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU PERSON. I learnt the ways of my people from my father and my older brothers. I was taught that the sacred beliefs of my culture are based on where the song lines run through our country. The song lines connect me to my people’s country and to the trees, plants, shrubs, medicines that we know are on country, waterholes, creeks, rivers and animals – all have a special religious place in our land and culture and are connected to it.

Our spirits and the spirits of our ancestors travel above, through and under the ground of our country. They dwell there indefinitely. Harming the environment, the country, the landscape, the ecosystems, the dependent species, harms my sacred beliefs and spiritual connections.

I, along with other Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners, through our Traditional Owners Family Council, have sustained a strategy to resist the push by Adani Mining and the Queensland government to open up the Galilee Basin – our traditional lands – with the largest proposed coal mine in the history of Australia, and one of the largest in the world.

At the heart of our struggle is the demand for respect for us as first peoples, for our country and our rights, all long missing in relations between our people and the Settler Society.

The confrontation over the Galilee is the distillation of our peoples’ struggle with the land grabbing and colonisation that has continued since day one of the British assertion of sovereignty over our lands and peoples – an assertion that we never ceded to and one that proceeds every day, still without our consent.

Wangan and Jagalingou are the Traditional Owners of most of the area of the Galilee Basin, including the proposed Carmichael mine site. For untold thousands of years, we have been custodians of this land and it is our responsibility to protect our land, water, people, history and totems. Our Yuree, our law, is the bee, or Kub-bah in our traditional language.

Our sacred connection starts at our place of birth. There, the child is given a representative animal, bird or reptile totem, either a social totem or a dreaming totem. They are forbidden to eat such creatures or their eggs.

In our country, spiritual ancestors come up from under the ground and travel in and through the land at sacred sites associated with the Rainbow Serpent, known as the Mundunjudra. The Rainbow Serpent has power to control Wangan and Jagalingou sites where our people are born into their bigan (totem). This has been so since the beginning of the creation period.

This ancient connection, through to the present, endows us with the knowledge of our traditional ownership and of our distinct identity as Wangan and Jagalingou peoples – the Weirdi-speaking people – the Aboriginal peoples of the Galilee.

Wangan and Jagalingou have in the past exercised and enjoyed our customary laws and practices in our lands, including the area of the Carmichael mine. We still do so to this day. We want to in the future, but this mine will damage our rights and offend our spiritual beliefs because of the destruction it will cause to the land and the waters on the mine site and around it, and also the wider region.

The impacts of the mine and the various leases are not limited to the places on which they sit; especially because of the way water flows through and connects vast interlocking landscapes. Cascading effects will be felt on the neighbouring lands and waters of other Traditional Owners and other landholders in the region. Our neighbouring tribes also have similar stories of their connection through the Water Spirit, referred to regularly as Moonagudda or Mundunjuda. We will not subject our Country and that of others to ‘death by a thousand cuts’. Our law (and lore) embodies a ‘seamless web of cultural landscape’ – this is our Country; and it must be cared for and managed.

‘Opening up’ the Galilee to mining will forever damage Wangan and Jagalingou sacred country. If the Carmichael mine proceeds it will tear the heart out of our country: destroying our ancestral homelands, the cultural landscape and our heritage; causing irreversible and major damage to the environment; and unleashing a mass of carbon into the atmosphere, propelling dangerous climate change.

One of the major reasons we have never consented to an ‘Indigenous Land Use Agreement’ with Adani for the Carmichael mine is that there was insufficient honest explanation and acknowledgement of the adverse and irreversible impacts on the values of our country. It is not possible to give free, prior and informed consent to any developments without the major, cumulative and long-term effects of those projects on our natural and cultural values being properly identified. And because we know what this mine of mass destruction means, we will not agree to it.

The company was never fully forthcoming with us and so showed their dishonesty. And we have no confidence in government regulation to maintain our country, nor adequately cover the value of our country as an interconnected and living whole – as a vital cultural landscape. This is central to us as a people, and to the maintenance of our identity, laws and consequent rights. We remain implacable in our opposition to the destruction that would befall our country if this or any other major coal mine were to proceed.

It is our recognised right under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold our consent to developments on our lands. At no time has the state or Adani or any other mining company received our free, prior and informed consent for the issuing of mining leases. They have been granted over our rejection and resistance; and it is an incontrovertible fact that they are issued at the expense of our rights.

Indeed, every time we have said no, Adani has worked to override our decision and pursue their outcomes through the national native title regime. And the government has backed them. This is a system built on the notorious Ten Point Plan, found by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to be discriminatory towards Traditional Owners and lacking in the fundamentals of the right to free, prior, informed consent and self-determination. These are rights and protections sanctioned by international law and declarations but find little foothold in the regimes and policies of successive Australian governments, federal and state.

The Queensland government, which holds the ultimate authority with its power to compulsorily acquire our land and rights, favours securing the interests of mining companies and prospective workers over our refusals. Nothing has changed for our people except the way in which our lands are appropriated and our people subjugated.

So, we fight. We fight to protect our connection to country and prevent damage to our ancient heritage. We fight for our rights to free, prior, informed consent; to our own economic development; and to protection of our country and culture. 

This mine will forever interfere with our way of life, culture and traditions, and open the way for the complete devastation of the Galilee Basin – the place from which our people have originated since creation – and our lands and waters. It will have negative impacts on our social, cultural and economic structures. We know this because of the way Adani has treated us. We know this because of what is proposed for the future. The company and governments have not listened to us and do not respect our views. We have seen damage already in country under so-called cultural heritage management plans, which are not much more than permits to destroy our ancient heritage. Adani and the state government have not offered anything meaningful to protect and secure the future of our country and our sacred connection. The price Adani is asking us to pay includes silence in the future – not being able to object to anything they do.

This runs against our rights as Aboriginal people – rights described in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Australia is a signatory. We assert our rights and object to the way in which they are systematically overridden in the process by which the state grants mining interests. The courts and tribunal are then restricted by the law to an administrative framework in which the original law of the land, our law, and the order of our societies is incorporated only to the extent that the centuries-old colonial project can maintain its pre-eminence.

This is life for Aboriginal people in a Settler Society – a colony that came and never went. But while the legal system may weigh against us, when we say No, we mean No.And so, we fight.

We fight against the power and wealth of a massive global corporation and a state and federal government. We fight against capital funds that roll in and out of investments, indifferent to the pain and suffering of our people and the destruction of our homelands.

We fight against imposed democratic forms – a system that barely upholds the rights of the community’s own citizens, much less our rights as Aboriginal peoples. Rights to our law and custom, which don’t owe their existence to any other power; rights to our inheritance, which long predates the migrant communities from the First Fleet to the latest arrival; and rights to determine our own future and relationships in this land.

We are knowingly oppressed by wealthy companies and powerful government agencies that bank on the fact we cannot afford to sustain endless battles when the cards are already stacked against us. We face the invidious choice of co-option and meagre rewards, or social exclusion and economic marginalisation. There is no restitution that would come close to empowering us from the wealth of the land that others have grown rich on. There is no land justice.

Adani and miners have the benefit of a system that does not respect our rights as Aboriginal peoples – the right to our lands and resources; the right to conservation and protection of the environment; the right to practise our law and customs; the right to live in freedom, peace and security. Governments have not afforded respect for us, our country or our rights.

We stand opposed to the Adani Carmichael mine because of its devastating impacts on our native title, ancestral lands, environment and cultural heritage. As first peoples, we are defending our rights as Traditional Owners and custodians to protect our ancestral inheritance and maintain our rights in and on our Country.

The association of Wangan and Jagalingou with the Rainbow Serpent (the Water Spirit) promotes the collective right to live freely as distinct peoples with our own cultural values. We Wangan and Jagalingou people believe that any damage to the integrity of our moiety dreaming would have catastrophic consequences for all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the region. Any damage, regardless of the perpetrator, attracts sanctions from other members of the regional Aboriginal societies.

The law is you don’t kill your totem whether it is an animal or a tree. Our law protects us and maintains social order. Offences against our law and custom are offences of strict liability. They are serious but remain unrecognised in Australian law. The forms of customary punishments once included death, corporal punishment (including spearing), shaming and banishment. Because such punishments no longer exist does not mean the offences are no longer serious.

The Carmichael mine site is part of a large number of sacred and archaeological sites that exist in the country of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. Many sites are associated with Ancestor dreaming totems and other totemic beings that manifest through certain natural species. The significance of the totemic beings, rituals, ceremonies and ancestor dreaming associated with the Galilee are essential to our identity, our law and the order of our society. They give life to our claim for our rights in land. Our ancestors are still alive in the land.

The Queensland government knows about this but will not help protect our sacred lands and it does not speak of what it knows. Adani is only interested in the mine and money and does not respect our culture and religion. Adani’s leader will not show us the respect of talking with our elders and law people.

We did not consent, we have not consented, we will never consent to the destruction of our country for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, or any others, on our ancestral lands. It would be against our law and order.



Premier Palaszczuk whitewashes our rights for Adani

25th March 2018

While we were in the courtroom on 12 – 14 March, fighting the State of Queensland, Adani Mining, and Qld South Native Title Services (QSNTS), the Queensland Premier authorised an email that was sent to many of our supporters.

The Queensland Premier’s response studiously avoided our key demands. That is:

  1. Acknowledge that Adani does not have our consent for the Carmichael mine and the destruction of our country
  2. Publicly rule out extinguishing our Native Title for Adani
  3. Remove the Government’s signature from Adani’s dodgy Land Use Agreement
  4. Stop spending public funds opposing us in the courts, and
  5. Meet with representatives from the W&J Traditional Owners Council

Instead, the Premier proclaimed the Government is adopting a ‘neutral position’ and will submit to the decision of the Court on the contested Adani ILUA.

When we saw this, our lawyers drew it to the attention of the State’s Counsel. We made it clear that the State’s position in the current proceedings does not accord with the Premier’s statement. The State’s Counsel has actively cross-examined our witnesses and has filed submissions refuting our case. And unlike the National Native Title Tribunal, it has not filed a ‘submitting notice’.

We asked that the State clarify its instructions and advise the Court before they are called upon to provide submissions on Monday 26th. They have since confirmed that “the State’s position is unchanged”.

So the truth is the Government is actively opposing us on all points, cross examining witnesses and making submissions – but only against us, not against Adani or QSNTS, who respectively organised and certified the ‘Adani ILUA’.

This is not a neutral position by the Government; and the State is not acting as the ‘model litigant’ they suggest.

There is an emptiness at the heart of this operation. The impersonal email from the ‘Office of the Premier’ masks a brutal and bureaucratic indifference.

In it, the Premier says the Government is committed to the Native Title Act process, as though this will automatically deliver us land justice. Instead it builds on the 20 year legacy of racial discrimination and pro-mining bias first instituted through the notorious “10 point plan” under the Howard Government.

This process allows for our decisions to be overridden (which the Queensland Government has already done). It subsumes primary Traditional Owners’ rights and interests in the land under ‘majority voting’, while throwing open the doors to anyone who, for the occasion, says they ‘may hold native title in the area’ – thereby exposing our meetings to stacking by wealthy proponents, who can bankroll people that are not part of our native title claim group, to attend. In our case it allows for conduct in decision making and contracts that would be totally unacceptable in non-Indigenous policy and governance.

The Premier makes out that W&J’s issue is a difference of opinion amongst ‘a majority’ and ‘a minority’ of W&J people; instead of a matter of misconduct, corruption and meeting stacking to obtain ‘a contract’ that signs away our native title to the land. This approach to property would be anathema to all fair minded people who believe in equitable rights, and it overrides our traditional laws and customs when ‘speaking for Country’.

The Government is not neutral and hands-off regarding W&J’s internal issues. They have knowingly involved themselves in them. They have favoured the so called majority even when alerted to misconduct and the fact that the requirement for the Registered Native Title Claimant (the “Applicant”) to act collectively was consistently breached by a breakaway group given money and support by Adani.

The Government’s acts of omission – by failing to investigate and make inquiries – and the Queensland Coordinator General’s active agency, opened the door to Adani getting its ILUA back on the table after our people had rejected it, at that time, twice before.

The State must wear the fact that the supposed decisions of the ‘Applicant’ it relied on were rorted, leading to a contested ‘authorisation’ of the ILUA. They ignore the fact that since the ILUA was signed, one of the members of the Applicant, in an affidavit to the Federal Court, withdrew his signature from the purported deal, effectively undercutting any notion of a ‘majority’. They ignore the claim that those individuals who engineered the deal with Adani say they were coerced by the Coordinator General by a threat of losing all native title rights.

The State furthermore backed the intervention of then Attorney General George Brandis against our strike-out motion in the Federal Court last May, when Adani’s ILUA was rendered invalid because the Court confirmed in the McGlade decision what was required under the Native Title Act. At that point the Adani ILUA was nearly dead, but the Queensland Premier actively encouraged the changing of the Native Title Act by the Federal Parliament and put the Adani ILUA back on life support.

The Premier makes it seem that the Government was a mere bystander in all this, forced to sign onto the ILUA because of the federal laws, instead of owning up to the fact that the Government and its agencies have directly involved themselves in our affairs, pushed Adani’s interests as their own, and entered into an agreement with them. The Government is trying to abdicate its responsibility.

The Premier offers as a mark of seriousness that the Government will enforce the ILUA. Is this a threat or a promise? We are saying there is no valid ILUA and it should be struck from the register.

Enforcing the ILUA is the problem and allows the Government to ‘legally’ extinguish our native title as though we had voluntarily surrendered it. The Government have been Adani enablers, and because our injunction application was dismissed they now have the power to extinguish our rights in land at any time.

The Government makes it seem like this ‘ILUA’ is an ‘agreement’ between us and Adani to allow the company to build a bit of mine infrastructure in exchange for some money and benefits – and not what it is… a license to extinguish our rights in land and to commit wholesale destruction of our Country and sacred places, for one of the worst Native Title compensation deals in the country.

Nowhere does the Premier rule out extinguishing our native title before our case and any appeals are exhausted. Instead, she goes on spending public money in the Court opposing us while pretending that the State’s ‘signature’ on the the ILUA doesn’t confer a vested interest in the Adani mine, and leads them to try justify the circumstances in which the sham ILUA was obtained.

And it is a sham. Here’s what we have established and have brought forward to the court…

Adani worked with a breakaway group who rorted decisions to overturn the resolutions of the W&J people and our Family Representative Council to reject an ILUA. The breakaway group say they were pressured by the Government to do a deal for fear of losing our native title.

Adani paid those individuals to meet, and they sacked our Future Acts lawyer and engaged another one paid for by Adani.

They moved to a meeting in April 2016 to ‘authorise’ the prearranged deal. Our people met in March 2016 and instructed them not to proceed. They went ahead anyway.

In attendance at Adani’s ‘authorisation meeting’ was a sudden and dramatic influx of hundreds of people who had never been involved in our claim before – while large numbers of our own people, who refused to participate, weren’t there. The combined numbers would swell our group by hundreds of people; to numbers never before seen in the 14 years our native title claim has been running. We have analyzed the records and from our own knowledge maintain that more than 60% of people there were not W&J identified.

The numbers are a gross distortion of the will of the W&J people. “294 to 1” is manifestly unbelievable. We have affidavit evidence that even at that meeting, stacked as it was, there were people who voted no but weren’t counted. The outcome is contrived.

In court, an Adani witness admitted the company paid the breakaway members of the Applicant to recruit people to attend. ‘Pre-registration’ of attendance was outsourced to a service provider who put together a list of names. The service provider had no authority to determine if people were or weren’t primary Traditional Owners. This pre-registration list was given to the very same people who supported the ILUA, and had been paid by Adani to recruit attendees, so they could ‘verify’ participants.

QSNTS was engaged and paid by Adani to attend to the registration on the day and the certification of the agreement afterwards. An assumed fait accompli.

A person’s ‘pre-registration’ automatically made them someone who ‘may’ hold native title as a member of the W&J claim group, but without further checking. There was no due diligence. No cross-referencing of QSNTS’s genealogical database or contact list. People were waved through.

No alternative information was allowed, no debate ensued in the meeting, and no analysis of the adequacy of the compensation deal was given. There was no confirmation that the people in the room were in fact Wangan and Jagalingou people.

And certification of the “ILUA’ by QSNTS after the event was a desktop exercise by its CEO who wasn’t in attendance. It is clear from cross examination that he did not conduct any detailed assessments.

The QSNTS CEO made no inquiries despite being advised numerous times by us that the W&J group was being undermined, and there were breaches of process. He expressed no concerns nor did any checking given the dramatic swelling of participant numbers, and in the knowledge that the largest part of the W&J people from all previous (and subsequent) decisions against the ILUA were not in attendance.

The circle was complete… no one checked. Attendance was assumed to be correct. Concerns were ignored. The deal was done and ‘certified’, and Adani took care of the rest. And the National Native Title Tribunal, ignoring our objections and pending court case, drew its jurisdiction from the certification provided by QSNTS, which applied no rigour at all in exercising its statutory functions.

We maintain that this is corruption of due process and exhibits a massive conflict of interest from all involved in producing the Adani ILUA. No-one who had a hand in running and approving this, or who now rely on it, such as the Queensland Government, can say they operated at any time with their interests declared. Nor with a view to ensuring the free, prior and informed consent of the primary W&J Traditional Owners of the land who have always ‘voted no’; or to protecting our native title.

Unless and until this is thoroughly investigated and cleared, there will be no legitimacy to any ILUA, no matter the legal arguments. And there should be no extinguishment of our native title that relies on it. Not now, not ever.

For more background read the ‘Killing Country’ series by Queensland University researchers:

On the State – The Queensland Government Is The Real Driver In Adani’s Dirty Land Grab

On Adani – Traditional Owners Expose Adani’s Relentless Pursuit of W&J Country

On Native Title & QSNTS – Native Title Colonialism, Racism And Mining For Manufactured Consent


It’s time the Queensland Government stood up for our rights

Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council


Delivered at Speakers Corner, Qld Parliament House

Brisbane, Thursday 8th March 2018


It’s time the Queensland Government stood up for our rights.

We are determined to prevent our land being taken without our consent and to protect our Country and sacred places from destruction.

We have never given consent to the Adani project or the surrender of our land rights. Our people have rejected a deal with Adani four times since 2012. We oppose the destruction of our Country.

And without the Queensland Government’s support, and their willingness to override our rights and interests – which they have done before – Adani would be nowhere right now.

Our native title is now at risk of extinguishment by the State Government.

But it is within their power to make sure this doesn’t happen.

It’s time the Premier stopped dodging her Government’s complicity in overturning our decisions and aiding and abetting Adani.

Three years ago, we stood here and asked to meet with the then new Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, after our people had voted down a land use agreement with Adani. In the whole last term, she never spoke to us.

We have written four times to the Premier since our people met again in December last year and rejected Adani’s deal for the fourth time. She hasn’t replied once.

We are demanding a meeting to explain why there is no consent from us for Adani’s dirty deal, and why the Qld Government should remove its support for Adani’s dodgy ILUA and stop opposing us in the courts.

And most of all, why the Government should not extinguish our native title.

Not for Adani. Not now. Not ever.

Let the Premier know you share our concerns. Call or email her today.

Annastacia Palaszczuk
Phone: (07) 3719 7000
Twitter: AnnastaciaPalaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP)
Facebook: Annastacia Palaszczuk MP

Ask Annastacia Palaszczuk to meet with W&J Council representatives, and tell her you support our demands that the Queensland Government –

  1.     Acknowledge that Adani does not have our consent for the Carmichael mine and the mass destruction of our country
  2.     Publicly rule out extinguishing our Native Title for Adani
  3.     Remove the Governments signature from Adani’s dodgy Land Use Agreement, and
  4.     Stop spending public funds opposing us in the courts

Demand the Queensland Government protect our rights – we say what happens on our Country.

No extinguishment of our native title for Adani!

No means no!


Injunction lifted in favour of Adani, leaving native title at risk


  • Lifting of injunction
  • Adani’s duplicity

After nearly two months of an interim injunction, and only a few weeks away from the trial brought by W&J applicants to argue the invalidity of the “Adani ILUA”, the court order that had restrained Adani from seeking, and the State of Queensland from acting on, the extinguishment of native title, was lifted on February 15. 

This leaves W&J peoples’ native title at great risk.

Adani has been pressing for months to get the extinguishment done and the Queensland Government had paved the way in readiness. It is now only a Cabinet decision away from happening.

The injunction decision was close run, with Justice Reeves indicating that it was the lack of an ‘undertaking as to damages’ by W&J applicants that tipped the ‘balance of convenience’ to Adani.

The injunction application decision therefore turned on whether Adani would be out of pocket from a delay. Adani said they would run the commercial risk of the $1.4b they had thrown into their increasingly stranded asset, but couldn’t afford the risk of delay in undertaking $1m in design works that were already well behind schedule.

They promptly turned around after the decision and announced they had deferred indefinitely the final investment decision they were to make by the end of March, casting further doubt on whether the project could ever proceed.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council Chairperson immediately filed an affidavit in the substantive proceeding to draw this to Justice Reeve’s attention.

Adani claimed the court outcome as a ‘milestone’ and professed their ‘respect’ for ‘the Wangan and Jagalingou People’ and other Traditional Owners in their project area.

Lost on them apparently is that representatives of W&J people were in the court seeking to restrain them, and are working to overturn the ‘land use agreement’ Adani is relying on as a representation of their ‘consent’ – consent that has never been given, for an ‘agreement’ they have never signed.

Adani’s ‘respect’ went so far as arguing in court that there may not even be native title to be protected. Adani also called into doubt the statements Justice Reeves accepted as evidence, from senior Traditonal Owners, about their connection to that country and the important culture and sacred areas that would be damaged.

The matter proceeds to trial on 12-14 March 2018 in the Federal Court in Brisbane.


Court rulings on the injunction:

FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA. Kemppi v Adani Mining Pty Ltd [2018] FCA 105

Application for interlocutory injunction: Kemppi v Adani Mining Pty Ltd (No 3) [2018] FCA 40

Application for leave to appeal: Kemppi v Adani Mining Pty Ltd [2018] FCA 105


For more information, contact:

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


Letter to the QLD Premier – there should be no extinguishment of Native Title




On 22 December 2017 the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council wrote to –

The QLD Premier,

The Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, and

The Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy


The W&J Council received its most recent mandate at a meeting of the W&J claim group on 2 December 2017. The letter informed the Government that the W&J claim group opposes the Adani Mining Pty Ltd project because of the damage that it will cause to the culture, and the lands and waters, of the Wangan and Jagalingou People.

W&J council also oppose the registered Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani Mining Pty Ltd purported to be authorised by the Wangan and Jagalingou People in controversial circumstances (“the Adani ILUA”).

W&J council uphold the decisions of the claim group who, on four separate occasions (the last being at the authorisation meeting of 2 December 2017), have rejected the Adani ILUA.

We noted the following –

1. There is no free prior informed consent of the Wangan and Jagalingou People to the Adani project or the Adani ILUA.

2. The Adani ILUA is not acceptable compensation for the destruction of our country and the loss and suffering that would occur. Nor does it provide an equitable consideration regarding jobs and benefits.

3. The circumstances in which the Government, in support of an ILUA, became directly involved in internal Wangan and Jagalingou discussion is of very serious concern to us.

4. The Adani ILUA contains a provision which allows for the immediate surrender and extinguishment of our native title.

We requested that the QLD Government give an undertaking not to grant any freehold title to Adani Mining Pty Ltd, thereby extinguishing native title of the Wangan and Jagalingou People.


The Full Letter is here.



URGENT: The Queensland Government is ready to extinguish Wangan Jagalingou native title for Adani



This is urgent!

The Queensland Government is ready to extinguish our Native Title rights.

Adani is trying to push through an illegitimate land use agreement and extinguish our native title. We have a Federal Court case to challenge it it March, and have filed for an injunction to prevent them moving to have our rights extinguished before then.

We asked the Government to promise that they wouldn’t act to extinguish our native title until the Federal Court heard our case. And they just refused.

That means they could move to extinguish our native title rights at any time.

And with Minister Anthony Lynham back in his seat, we expect him and Adani to act before our hearing, and slam native title extinguishment through!

Our native title rights are hanging in the balance. This is a race against time.


Write to or call Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, and Minister for Mines Anthony Lynham, and demand they respect the judicial process and refuse to act to extinguish any Wangan and Jagalingou native title before the injunction is dealt with this week and the court hears our case against the ILUA in March:

Premier Palaszczuk – (07) 3719 7000 –

Deputy Premier Trad – (07) 3719 7100 –

Minister Lynham – (07) 3719 7360 –

Please share this widely – send it to as many people as you can. We must let the Government know that any credit they get for vetoing the loan to Adani will be wiped out if they extinguish Wangan and Jagalingou peoples’ native title for Adani’s mine on our country.

Thank you for being there for us at this urgent time.

Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson

with Linda Bobongie (Chairperson)

for the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council

Please continue to donate to our Defence of Country fund or purchase the Adani, No Means No t-shirt when you can to support our struggle

P.S. please share your communications to the Government with us at  


Traditional Owners do not ‘support’ Rockhampton FIFO hub


 5 October 2017

Mayor Strelow misrepresents Wangan and Jagalingou

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow’s ‘thanks’ to the the Wangan and Jagalingou people for ‘our support’ is disingenuous and clearly misrepresents the position of the Traditional Owners of the proposed Carmichael mine area.

We do not support a FIFO (fly in fly out) hub that allows a mass of people who have no respect for our land to fly in and destroy our country and culture, and fly out again.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council don’t know who Mayor Strelow is talking to, but it’s clearly not the W&J Applicant or the claim group or our families.

A majority of Wangan and Jagalingou families have consistently rejected Adani’s sham ILUA  for the mine. Adani has no agreement with Traditional Owners and an ILUA has not been registered. The purported ILUA is subject to a Federal Court trial in March 2018.

Our court action in March will expose the underhanded way in which our position on the mine is misrepresented by Adani, and our supposed support was engineered.

We have provided evidence to the court of Adani’s bad faith and we will pursue this constant misrepresentation of our people and our position on the mine until we can demonstrate once and for all we do not and never will support this coal mine or any project or enterprise aligned to it.

Mayor Margaret Strelow’s claim that the FIFO hub announcement “is a generational moment” for Rockhampton is clearly disconnected from our young people and the real world. We do not want marginal low paid jobs in a dirty and dying industry. Nor do we buy yet another one of Adani’s ‘fake it until you make it’ stunts, when we know they do not have our consent or a registered ILUA and they do not have finance for the mine.

Mayor Strelow can hold whatever view she likes on this industrial chimera but she cannot credibly thank the W&J people for our support.

Instead of the crumbs off Adani’s table, and the servitude proffered by Governments, we deserve higher education, jobs in sustainable enterprises of the future, and to freely exercise our right to protect our lands and waters and practice our culture. 

W&J submission to the Inquiry into NAIF


W&J Submission to Senate Economics References Committee inquiry

into the governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility


28 July 2017

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) are the Indigenous Traditional Owners of a vast area of land in central-western Queensland. We are the first people and our country – Wangan and Jagalingou country – is in what is now called the Galilee Basin; and in the area designated as Northern Australia for the operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

The W&J are directly impacted upon by the NAIF Board’s pending decision on an application by the Adani Group, as we are Traditional Owners of the area in which the Carmichael mine and related mining infrastructure is proposed.

The W&J Senate Committee submission is here.


Adani’s much touted Indigenous Participation Plan talks in big headline numbers but would deliver the equivalent to Aboriginal people in the region of about $5,000 a person per year.

The re-allocation of a relatively small proportion of the public investment sought for this project from NAIF could deliver substantially greater employment and development benefits to our people than anything available from this project. And it could instead be focused on sustainable, innovative and culturally compatible ventures and support for growth in new 21st Century industries, including renewable energy.

The development model deployed under current policy settings simply undervalues our peoples’ land, knowledge and cultural resources; perpetuates an economic model in which we cannot aspire to high levels of employment and education and enterprise; and assigns us the role of marginal mendicants to the dominant economic interests of a society grounded in colonial appropriation, and mired in an archaic industrial model.

The governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) does not serve us specifically as Traditional Owners who are potentially adversely affected by the Carmichael mine project, with enabling funding from NAIF; nor as Indigenous people in Northern Australia, historically disenfranchised while others have and still prosper from the economically productive land base which was taken from us without consent or restitution.

The NAIF mandate does nothing to address this in a just and equitable manner and should be redrawn to bring about a proper consideration of, and investment in, culturally-aligned and self-determined Indigenous development.

The endorsed Submission of John Quiggin, Kristen Lyons, and Morgan Brigg of the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland

We note the public interest submission of John Quiggin, Kristen Lyons, and Morgan Brigg of the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland [attached]. Their submission refers to a research paper, “Unfinished Business”, which arises from collaboration the W&J Council is undertaking with them, and the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, under a Global Change Institute Flagship Project [attached]. For more information –

The views in their submission and accompanying documents are endorsed by the W&J Council. We particularly endorse their views on Indigenous Development. The NAIF does not proceed from the basis of a defined, transparent and meaningful Indigenous Engagement Strategy leading to a clear agenda for Indigenous development.

In fact, there are no public terms for Indigenous engagement under NAIF, much less any substantive or meaningful process that could encompass the needs, preferences and different circumstances of Indigenous peoples throughout the vast area referred to as Northern Australia.

Further, as with all matters involving the Adani project and the W&J, there are contested and litigated aspects which make it clear that Adani does not have full ‘free, prior and informed consent’ of the W&J, as required to meet the international and legal rights of Indigenous Peoples, and is subject to ongoing court hearings. The most pertinent of these challenges is to a purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement for the Carmichael mine project, which is scheduled for hearing in the Federal Court in March 2018.