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

MEDIA RELEASE  13 APRIL 2016  |  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

W&J website “No means no” video.

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