Urgent Letter to Gautam Adani

4th December 2016

Mr. Gautam Adani

Chairman, Adani Group


Dear Mr Adani,

Respecting our People, Country and Rights – a meeting request re Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council regarding your proposed Carmichael Mine

As a matter of urgency, the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council request a meeting with you during your visit to Australia to express our grave concern about the push by your company, Adani Mining Pty Ltd (Adani), and the Queensland Government to open the Carmichael Mine on our traditional lands.

Our apologies for the short notice, however we have only recently learned through the media of your visit to meet with the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland.

Below we have outlined some of the concerns we wish to discuss with you, and provide options for a meeting.

Respecting our People

We are Traditional Owners of most of the area of the Galilee Basin, including the proposed Carmichael mine site. Our people, represented through our Council, formerly rejected an agreement with your company and the State in authorisation meetings on three occasions. We cannot in all conscience consent to the destruction of our ancestral lands, cultural heritage and the environment. Nor can we allow such a project to contribute to the unfolding and dire effects of climate change that pose such great risks to all peoples.

In response to our refusal, your company has engaged in divisive and dubious conduct to secure approval from our people – going so far as to purport to have gained our consent from a meeting you funded in April this year.

We will not be fooled by such claims or steamrolled by lawyers and operatives in your hire. You should know that we have filed objections to any attempt to register the purported agreement with the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT). We have laid out the evidence to confirm that you have no proper consent from our people, and we are ready to take an injunction should any attempt be made by the NNTT to register this document.

That the Queensland Government backs you and has acted in concert is of no worth to us. You do not have our free, prior informed consent to surrender to you our ancestral lands and we will stand firm in the face of all attempts to engineer it.

Respecting our Country

If the Carmichael mine were to proceed it would 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. Nor would the impacts be limited to our lands – they would have cascading effects on the neighbouring lands and waters of other Traditional Owners and other landholders in the region.

One of the major reasons we would not authorise an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for the Carmichael mine was 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.

We have no confidence that the Government’s environmental conditions placed on the mining leases will protect our lands, waters and heritage – and nor do these conditions adequately account for the value of our country as an interconnected and living whole; as a vital cultural landscape in which our ancestors reside. This is central to us as a People, and to the maintenance of our identity, laws and consequent rights. You cannot replace those rights or compensate for the loss of them. We remain implacable in our opposition to the destruction that would befall our country if your mine were to proceed.

Respecting our Rights

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 Queensland or Commonwealth Government, or Adani Mining, received our free, prior and informed consent for the issuing of mining leases and the development of the Carmichael mine.

Indeed, when we have said no, your company has sought to override our decision and pursue your outcomes through the statutory force of the National Native Title Tribunal – while at the same time the Queensland Government threatened compulsory acquisition of our land and rights.

This set a context for so-called negotiation which was neither free nor fair. You do not have our willing consent. As you should be informed, we are also challenging these matters through the Federal Court of Australia, and the Queensland Supreme Court, and do not intend to desist until our rights are recognised and respected.

We request that you acknowledge and fulfil your responsibilities to our rights to free, prior, informed consent under international law; to our own economic development; and to protection of our country and culture, and all the proprietary and usufructuary rights that reside in our long ancestral connection to those places, and in our religious beliefs.

We propose that you make a time and place to meet with a small delegation from our Council on Wednesday the 7th December 2016. We can meet you in Clermont, on our Country, or at your head office in Brisbane.

It is important to us to know that you will act responsibly to respect us, our Country and our rights; and give us a fair hearing and a substantial response to our concerns.

Of course, we are resolved to pursue our rights and interests in these matters. As First Peoples, we will defend our rights as traditional owners and custodians, protect our ancestral land inheritance, and maintain our rights and interests in and on our Country.

Yours truly,

Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson

For the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council



Anastacia Palaszczuk MP

Premier and Minister for the Arts



Jeyakumar Janakaraj

Chief Executive Officer

Adani Australia


Statement and questions to Downer EDI Board

On 3rd of November, Senior W&J Traditional Owner, Adrian Burragubba, attended the AGM of the large mining and engineering company DownerEDI on behalf of the Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council.  DownerEDI are set to garner the contracts from Adani for the construction and engineering should the Carmichael Mine ever go ahead.

Adrian Burragubba put this statement and questions to the Board and the shareholders.

I am Adrian Burragubba, a native title applicant for, and senior Traditional Owner of Wangan & Jagalingou country, where Adani Mining intends to build the Carmichael Mine in Central Queensland. I understand that Downer EDI has letters of award to construct this mine.

I am, along with my people, other members of the native title applicant, and the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, opposed to this mine, which would lead to the destruction our homelands, our culture, and the integrity of our laws and customs connected to the lands and waters of our ancestors.

Downer EDI should be aware that we have taken our rejection of the Carmichael Coal Mine to the Courts in Australia and to the United Nations, and that your business associate, Adani Mining, still does not have what it needs to proceed, including our consent.

Right now, I and others have submissions in the Queensland Supreme Court, before the full bench of the Federal Court, and with further Federal court actions under way. These challenge the authorisation of mining leases by the Queensland Government on the application of Adani over the express rejection by our people, three times, of a land use agreement with Adani. We are further challenging the purported negotiation and attempt to register an Adani Indigenous Land Use Agreement and ancillary agreements subsequent to this, which would have direct bearing on Downer EDI.

We have also made submissions to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

We recently met with Michel Forst, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. In his End of Mission Statement on his visit to Australia, he said that our “right to free, prior and informed consent is not protected under Australian law, and government officials frequently fail to meaningfully consult and cooperate with indigenous and community leaders”.

He said that Indigenous rights defenders face a “lack of cooperation or severe pressure from the mining industry with regard to project activities, as has been exemplified in the case of the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine in central-western Queensland.”

This is our experience as the Traditional Owners. And it is an experience that includes Downer EDI.

Last year, your staff participated in a process that you took to be representative of the W&J people, but which had no authority. On March 9th 2015 your company along with agents of Adani met together with a group of six individuals hand-picked by the directors of Cato Galilee Pty Ltd.

At no time were these people instructed by the W&J native title applicant as a whole to do so; nor did they represent the view of the Claim Group, or the Family Representative Council as authorised by the Claim Group, which rejected dealings with Adani.

I as a member of the native title applicant was actively excluded from any purported decision making and from this meeting, the outcomes of which were subsequently presented as part of Adani’s Indigenous Participation Plan for the region.

No acknowledgement was made by Downer EDI of the fact that the Claim Group of our people had rejected an ILUA and associated ancillary agreements with Adani; nor that the matters were proceeding to the courts; nor that the participants of the meeting on March 9th had no authority to negotiate.

If the Carmichael mine were to proceed it would be a major human rights abuse that Downer EDI would be complicit in if you finalise a contract with Adani and become a beneficiary of the destruction of our lands and waters.

I ask the Board –

  1. Will you commit to meet with me and other representatives of our Traditional Owners Family Council who reject the imposition of this mine?
  2. Will you refrain from finalising and entering into contracts with Adani for the Carmichael mine project until all matters of our Free Prior Informed Consent, and other rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and all our International law submissions and Australian legal cases, are resolved?
  3. And will you respond in writing to these matters?

Thank you for your time and consideration of these concerns I present to you.


Adrian Burragubba, Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owner

Member of the Native Title Applicant

Spokesperson for the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council

Thursday, 3 November 2016


NOTE: The DownerEDI Board failed to give any undertaking or answer specifics, confirming instead that they are in the business of chasing coal contracts, that Adani is “a very large potential customer” and that they would rely on the State and Commonwealth Governments to deliver approvals. The CEO Grant Fenn also told Adrian after the meeting that DownerEDI wants to see the Galilee basin ‘opened up’.

‘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



Adrian’s statement for today… because you won’t read about it in the newspapers —


Adrian Burragubba, cultural leader and senior spokesperson of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners’ Council, will be in the Federal Court in Brisbane again today as his Judicial Review hearing continues.
Mr Burragubba is defending his rights and that of other Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin against a decision of the National Native Title Tribunal, in an application commenced by Adani in October 2014, and supported by the Queensland government. The decision of the Tribunal was that the mining leases for the Carmichael coal mine may be issued without regard to the fact that the proposed mine did not have the consent of the Traditional Owners.
Mr Burragubba said, “Adani justified its mine in the Native Title Tribunal with false claims that it will create 7,000 jobs and generate huge economic benefits. We say that these claims mislead the Tribunal and amount to ‘conduct analogous to fraud’. The Tribunal accepted Adani’s claims without proper investigation, and put these lies ahead of our rights as traditional owners.
“Further, we were denied natural justice and due process in the Tribunal. My submissions were ignored and proper inquiry into our refusal to consent and our concerns for the protection of our traditional lands and heritage, did not take place.
“The reason I am in the Federal Court, seeking my legal right within the Native Title Party, is to achieve some redress to this Native Title process that nearly always favours mining over Aboriginal people’s rights.
“But while we are defending our rights in the court and holding Adani and the State to account, Adani is attempting to fracture and divide our Native Title Applicant group in an attempt to undermine our people’s previous decision. This was a decision of my people, on two occasions, to reject an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani for the Carmichael coal mine on our lands, and this decision stands.
Mr Burragubba said, “If Adani was confident of winning in this case before the Federal Court they would not be coming through the backdoor, interfering in our self-determined decision making processes and attempting to engineer an agreement with my people using every unscrupulous and devious tactic in the book. The Tribunal gave them what they wanted and the State threatened compulsory acquisition of our land.
“Any new agreement cannot now be freely given consent. We said no to Adani, twice already, and here they are again dividing our people and misrepresenting our position, because they can’t afford to be seen trampling on our native title rights and smashing our cultural heritage and our environment to get to the dirty coal underneath.
Wangan and Jagalingou may be just months away from achieving their Native Title determination as the legal Native Title holders of the Galilee Basin and surrounding areas. It’s been a very long wait of over 12 years.
“We will not allow Adani to intrude and cause divisions amongst our people, and force us to relinquish our rights before we can gain proper recognition for them”, he said.
“Our Traditional Owners will fight Adani’s interference and reject their inducements. Their offers of money and concern for our welfare are hollow. They have no money and they are never likely to build this mine. The jobs they propose cannot be guaranteed and are meager in any event. If they build the mine, then they can employ our people – we will not sign away our rights forever and agree to our country being smashed on the basis of their promises. We won’t be giving them the appearance of having done the right thing. The Traditional Owners of the mine area will stand and fight with the backing of our Council.
“We will not trade away our human rights for the false promises of a foreign-owned mining company. We will not be manipulated by this company which is acting in blatant contempt of the court arguing on one hand that they have the right already to build the mine, while dividing our group in the hope of securing an agreement that they still don’t have.
“They are acting in violation of our right to self-determination. They will never get consent from me and the other Traditional Owners in Wangan Jagalingou country where they vainly hope to build their mine.
“It is up to Wangan and Jagalingou people first, without pressure from Adani or the Queensland Coordinator General, to decide whether we should even entertain such a proposal.
“We will ensure that our native title rights and interests remain intact while we demonstrate our continued connection to our ancestral lands and waters. We have maintained those rights and interests in our country from time immemorial.
“Our purpose in saving the Doongmabulla Springs, the Carmichael river and the Moray Downs area is to protect the vitally important evidence of our history and connection in the land. My intention is to build a foundation on that ancient knowledge and connection to support a Determination of our Native Title, and to protect what is significant to our existence as Wangan and Jagalingou people for our future generations.
“The significance of the totemic beings, rituals, ceremonies and ancestor dreaming associated with the Carmichael mine area is essential to our identity and to our claim for our rights in land.
“Our ancestors are still alive in the land. We did not consent, we have not consented, we will not consent to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine on our ancestral lands”, he said.

EXPLAINER: Representation of W&J

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Note: There has been considerable misinformation about “disunity” within the W&J , purposefully amplified by Adani to serve the company’s interests, and questions raised about Adrian Burragubba’s authority to act and speak on the W&J’s behalf by Adani and others.

This briefer clarifies this –  and provides explanatory background to the fact that a clear majority of the W&J oppose Adani’s Carmichael mine and reject any agreement with Adani for the mine to proceed.  Of particular note [see timeline immediately below]:


  • The majority of the new applicant group, acting on behalf of the claim group, are opposed to the Carmichael Mine and support all previous decisions of the claim group rejecting any agreements with Adani Mining.

To have their native title recognised, the Claim Group authorises what is known as an ‘Applicant’ for their claim under the Native Title Act, to act on their behalf. The Applicant is now composed of representatives of the 12 original families of the Claim Group – the group that  REJECTED a Land Use Agreement with Adani for Carmichael. The new Applicant was appointed by the claim group on June 21, 2015.

(NB: The terms Native Title Claim Group, Native Title Applicant, Family Representative Council and Traditional Owners Council are defined over page.)


  • The Wangan and Jagalingou native title group AUTHORISED Adrian Burragubba as one of three members of the Native Title Applicant.


  • In October 2014, and previously in December 2012, the W&J native title Claim Group REJECTED Indigenous Land Use Agreements on offer to the W&J from Adani for the Carmichael mine. These agreements would require the W&J to consent to the mine going ahead.


  • The W&J  Family Representative Council voted to OBJECT  to Adani’s application for a “Future Acts Determination” to the National Native Title Tribunal. Adani was seeking a decision that Queensland could issue mining leases for Carmichael, overriding W&J’s rejection of the Land Use Agreement.


  • The Family Representative Council directed the native title Applicant (a 3- member group of the W&J)  to make the objection in the Native Title Tribunal and AUTHORISED Adrian Burragubba to represent them.


  • The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Council AUTHORISED Adrian Burragubba as its spokesperson and cultural leader to lead their campaign for self-determination and in opposition to Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine


  • In its ruling allowing the state of Queensland to issue mining leases the Tribunal recognises that W&J have NOT CONSENTED to a grant of mining leases to Adani by the Queensland Government.


  • In May, the Federal Court registrar ACCEPTED applications for an Appeal and the Judicial review of the Native Title Tribunal decision lodged by Adrian Burragubba and AUTHORISED by the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Council. (The W&J are being represented in their legal action by senior counsel who came forward to offer their support pro bono.)


  • The majority of the new applicant group, acting on behalf of the claim group, are opposed to the Carmichael Mine and support all previous decisions of the claim group rejecting any agreements with Adani Mining.


  • Proceedings commence in the Federal Court with the first directions hearing. A second directions hearing to be held on 9th September. The amended pleadings for the judicial review submitted on 24th July.


The W&J people make their decisions and represent themselves through their own governance structures. Decisions of the Claim Group, the Family Representative Council, and the Traditional Owners Council described below are democratic, ie, by consensus or a majority, and are final. It is not true to say that the group is divided in its opposition to Carmichael mine.


The native title ‘Claim Group’ is all the members of the community who are the descendants of heads of the 12 clans that composed the Traditional Owners at the time of British arrival. They are the first people and their country – Wangan and Jagalingou country – in what is now called the Galilee Basin.


To have their native title recognised, the Claim Group authorises what is known as an ‘Applicant’ for their claim under the Native Title Act, to act on their behalf. The Applicant is now composed composed of representatives of the 12 original families of the Claim Group – the group that  REJECTED a Land Use Agreement with Adani for Carmichael. The new Applicant was appointed by the claim group on June 21, 2015.


The W&J also have a family representative body to decide upon matters outside of the native title claim. This is the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Council. The Traditional Owners’ Council has AUTHORISED Adrian Burragubba as its spokesperson and cultural leader, along with emerging leader Murrawah Johnson,  and continues to meet to provide direction in the affairs of the Wangan and Jagalingou people.


There is also the Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Aboriginal Corporation, with a Board of Directors similarly composed of family representatives, to conduct business and administration on behalf of the W&J people.



Together, all of these bodies compose the governance arrangements of the W&J people. It is in accord with the right of the W&J people as described in Article 18 of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples –

“Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.”
August 2015


MEDIA STATEMENT – 21 August 2015

The Wangan and Jagalingou people, traditional owners of Queensland’s Galilee Basin,  today announce we have formally reconstituted the group representing our native title claim, and now stand together stronger than ever for our imminent fight in the Federal Court to stop Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, the biggest in Australian history.

See: Backgrounder on W&J organisational structure, governance and representation

As a people, we have voted down deals with Adani twice now. Our Family Council has continued to oppose Adani’s moves against us. And now our native title claim ‘Applicant’ properly reflects our people and our decisions.

We look forward now to moving onto our challenge in the Federal Court, which is set for a directions hearing on 9th September 2015.

Adrian Burragubba, senior traditional owner and spokesperson, said, “Today, the Federal Court registered our new Applicant, ending the fabricated myth that the majority of Wangan and Jagalingou do not oppose Adani’s mine. This dispels the malicious disinformation spread by Adani, which has always tried to paint our community as terminally divided.

“In any group, there are a variety of views. But a clear majority of our people said no to the Carmichael mine. Twice. This decision is final. What part of our “democracy” do they not understand?

“Adani is dishonestly seeking to divide and conquer; a tactic that mining companies have used against indigenous peoples standing up for their rights the world over.

“Once and for all: my people do not consent to this mine and never will. We have consistently fought the Carmichael mine and will do so until this Indian mining giant packs its bags and goes home.

“We have had a gutful of Adani and its dirty tactics used against our people. These were revealed in a shocking expose of the devious lengths this corporate rogue will go to in its attempt to crush us, and override our decision to formally reject Carmichael.

“Nor will we stand by while the media mouthpieces of Adani and the government insult us, representing us in story after story as simple, gullible patsies bought off by greenies. We are calling this out for what it is: a colonial attitude, and a repugnant mischaracterisation of us as a people. It is just the latest version of our dispossession. These misrepresentations do us serious harm.

“Let’s set the record straight, again, and for the last time. We are an independent group of traditional owners. We cannot be bought and sold by anyone, including outsiders like Adani. They offered us millions to consent to the ruination of our future. We rejected a Land Use Agreement with them –  twice. We told them to take their shut up money and go home. We told them we autonomously determine our own interests. This means self-determination without dependency on mining.”

“Adani’s proposed Carmichael project would be an unmitigated disaster, for my people, my culture, and for the environment, as we told the world’s biggest investment banks on our recent world tour. It seems they agree. Standard Chartered, the mine’s premier financier, walked away from the mine last month soon after our meeting, following an exodus of its peers.

“The tide of history is on our side. We are heartened by the huge groundswell of community support behind us. 100,000 Australians have signed our petition to tell Adani to get their hands off our land.

“We know that our many supporters –  in the environment movement, social justice groups and elsewhere – will continue to stand with us as we take our case to the Federal Court, and, if necessary, all the way to the highest court in the land.

“When we say no, we mean no,” Mr Burragubba said.

Background to Wangan and Jagalingou people, Adani and the Carmichael coal mine.
Background to Carmichael coal mine and rail project
Spokesperson: Adrian Burragubba 0417 607 053
Background: Anthony Esposito  0418 152 743


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  1. NOTE:

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.


  1. ASK:

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.


  1. 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

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Representative Council’s authorised spokesperson

Adrian Burragubba is the authorised spokesperson of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Representative Council. He is a member of the Wangan and Jagalingou Native Title applicant and a senior Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owner.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Claim Group rejected the proposed Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani Mining in 4th October 2014 by a decision of an authorised Claim Group meeting.

The Family Representative Group at a meeting convened by the Native Title Representative Body – Queensland South Native Title Services – on 22nd November 2014, resolved to object to Adani’s application to the National Native Title Tribunal.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Representative Council exercises its right to meet independently as a Traditional Owner council and have authorised Adrian Burragubba to speak on their behalf about their opposition to the mine and their determination to protect their land and culture.

At no time has the Wangan and Jagalingou people consented to a mining lease or the surrender of their native title to Adani Mining.

It is not for Adani to say who should speak on behalf of W&J. Article 18 of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says –

Article 18 – Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision- making institutions.

-March 26th, 2015

Statement by the Wangan and Jagalingou people about the Carmichael Mine

THE Wangan and Jagalingou people are the common law holders of the Carmichael Mine land. We wish to speak about the damage this mine will do to our people and our culture. We will tell you something about our culture and sacred beliefs so that you can understand our frustration with the legal processes and the unwillingness of government and Adani to listen to us and respect us.

We have made our position clear – Wangan and Jagalingou Families Representative Council are resolved to maintain the claim group’s position of no ILUA with Adani; and to publicly oppose Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine because of its devastating impacts on the group’s native title, ancestral lands and environment and cultural heritage.

We state that, as first nations people, we will defend our rights as sovereign owners and custodians, protect our ancestral land inheritance, and maintain our rights and interests in and on our Country. We will take necessary actions to protect our rights and interests.

Adrian Burragubba speaks on behalf of Wangan and Jagalingou Families Representative Council. He has knowledge that was passed on to him through the elders of his father’s people from when he was a small boy. They taught him the law. The land teaches him and the Wangan and Jagalingou people how to belong, when to sing or dance or practice culture. This is what the Wangan and Jagalingou people say about the mine.

This mine will forever damage Wangan and Jagalingou sacred country. The sacred beliefs of our culture, our religion, is based on where the song lines run through our country. These song lines connect us to Mother Earth. Trees, plants, shrubs, medicines we know are on country, waterholes, animals, habitats, aquifers – 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, is harming our sacred beliefs and spiritual connections.

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. 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 does not respect our culture and religion. Adani’s leader will not show us the respect of talking with our elders and law men.

We will say something about our sacred beliefs and land.

Many sites in Wangan and Jagalingou country are associated with Ancestor Dreaming Totems and other totemic beings that manifest through certain natural species for the Wangan  “babbing bura” (Bottletree people) the Possum, Bee and Sand Goanna are said to own fire and the (kidji)tree.

The Jagalingou “Woccullabura” (Eel people) are said to own the Sandalwood tree for ceremony and the ownership of water are associated with Carpet Snake, Scrub Turkey and Echidna. These are moiety classifications throughout Wangan and Jagalingou. All people, animals and plants are classified into moieties, the classification defining rights to land and resources, and defining kin relations. The term bigun relates to totems. Every bigun relates to land interests and associated decision-making and ceremonial responsibilities derived from relationship to land through either Mother’s Father or Father’s Mother.

We the 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 unrecognized in Australian law. The forms of customary punishments included death, corporal punishment (including spearing), shaming and banishment. Because such punishments no longer exist does not mean the offences are no longer serious.

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 as this would infringe our Law as you could die from eating your totem in most cases our people would go hunger for this reason. The Jagalingou (Woccullabura) belonging to the Gummoo Gummoo (Rain) Totem. The rain totem is connected to a tree totem. The tree totem for the Jagalingou (Wakeelbuhra) people is the Waxy Cabbage Palm and the Melaleuca – rain trees. They only come to life and flower in water. The dreaming totem Mundunjudra lives in the water, resides and moves and travels in and through the land. The dreaming totem comes from Gurri (the sun). In the Jagalingou country, spiritual ancestors who 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 &Jagalingou sites where our people are born into their bigan (Totem) this has been so since the beginning of the creation period. We have ceremony near these trees to pay respect to our water Totem the (Eel). When we marry we are betrothed to a different moiety than our own. Even before birth we are promised to someone close to our estate but not within. Death signifies a return to the spirit dreaming so from birth you are connected to that tree. You are also buried with that tree. It is the totemic spirit being that can take you back to your dreaming.

Wangan & Jagalingou ceremonies and rituals are performed at sacred places like the Doongmabulla Springs and along the Carmichael River. They are performed to obtain access to the Ancestral Beings for example Mundunjudra (water spirit) and to spiritual powers that come from our Totemic beings. The ceremonies and rituals give access to animal spirit beings that go through your body at birth and connect you to your Moiety under our law of the Wangan & Jagalingou. Our people are responsible for protecting these birthing sites in accordance with our systems of law.

The djala ceremony or (Yangaru), red Kangaroo was the last in the sacred ritual series of the Wangan & Jagalingou region and its ceremonies in terms of the sequence. By those ceremonies, those born to that skin Banbari/Kargilah and their totem tree and animal totem carry the terms on which the owner clans are defined. An owner clan member is any person who was a member by local descent and is responsible to protect the trees, animals and water under our law and our group. The group has a common spiritual affiliation to a site on the land and the owner clan has primary spiritual responsibility for that site. Group members are entitled by tradition to forage upon the land associated with the local descent group..

This ancient connection, through to the present, endows us with the knowledge of our traditional ownership and of our distinct identity as Wangan & Jagalingou peoples – the Weirdi speaking people – the Aboriginal peoples of the area covered by the proposed Carmichael mine.

Wangan & 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 and our neighboring peoples’ lands. 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.

This mine will forever interfere with our way of life and culture and traditions. 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. It has not listened to us and does not respect our views. We have seen damage already in country under cultural heritage management plans. 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 right to free, prior, informed consent; to our own economic development; to protection of our country and culture – and object to the way in which our rights are systematically over-ridden in the process by which the State grants mining interests, and the Tribunal is restricted by the law; and in the way Adani negotiates with us. While the legal system may weigh against us – when we say No, we mean No.

We realise we are up against the power and wealth of a massive global corporation and a State government. We realise that the Tribunal is influenced in its decision by the idea that the public interest is in having an expanding mining industry and therefore other interests don’t get a look in. We cannot afford to continue a case where we do not have the resources to put our objection to the Tribunal and the cards are already stacked against us. It is better not to participate at all. Adani has 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 practice our law and customs; the right to live in freedom, peace and security.

The association of Wangan & Jagalingou with the Rainbow Serpent (the Water Spirit) promotes the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples with our own cultural values. The Wangan & Jagalingou people have reluctantly decided that we are unable to continue to participate in the Tribunal proceedings. These proceedings and the legislation under which they are held do not advance our right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples with our own cultural values.

For these reasons our lawyers were asked to tell the tribunal that we can no longer participate in these proceedings.

Adrian Burragubba, Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owner

On Behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou Families Representative Council

Monday, 2 February 2015