Court hearing: W&J Traditional Owners fight Adani and Qld Govt

Media Release
– Three day Federal Court hearing commences
– Critical case – native title extinguishment essential to Adani

WHEN: Begins 10:15am Monday 12 March – Wednesday 14 March
WHERE: Court No. 2, L7. Cth Law Courts 119 North Quay (Tank St entry), Brisbane

Brisbane. A three day hearing in the Federal Court begins today, with Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners seeking a ruling invalidating Adani’s highly contested Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) and the registration of the ILUA without their consent.

This case and its outcome is critical, as this is one of the final approvals Adani needs, with native title extinguishment being essential to its ability to build the mine, in addition to raising finance for the project. The basis of the court action is outlined below.

Adrian Burragubba, cultural leader and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners’ Council says, “Both the Queensland and Federal governments have supported Adani against us, overriding our rights. And right now the Queensland Government has the power to extinguish our Native Title if they choose to, at any time.

The Queensland Government and Adani are relying on the ILUA to authorise extinguishment of our native title. The government does not have to go down this path. It should rule out ever extinguishing our native title for Adani.

“The Premier should have the decency not to rely on Adani’s sham agreement. We have voted four times against taking Adani’s shut up money, and against the destruction of our lands and waters, and our cultural heritage.

“This is no easy fight. Adani is a powerful, unscrupulous, multibillion dollar company which has trampled traditional communities and destroyed environments in its own country. They are pushing hard to extinguish our native title and to mask our profound opposition to their mine with the veneer of consent.

“We are determined to expose the underhanded and divisive tactics used to secure Adani’s sham agreement”.

Linda Bobongie, Chairperson of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners’ Council says, “There is no consent from us for Adani’s deal, and the Queensland Government should remove its support for this purported ILUA. The Queensland government’s opposition to us in the courts is proof it wants cover for the extinguishment of our rights in our traditional lands.

“Extinguishment of Native Title is a very serious matter which would take away the rights of our people now, and for generations to come. The Government should not act on a dubious land deal for the benefit of a crooked company which is playing us all for fools. It’s time the Queensland Government stood up for our rights.”

QUICK FACTS:

This case and its outcome is critical as it represents one of the final approvals Adani needs, with native title clearance being essential to its ability to build the mine, in addition to raising finance for the project.

Adani’s planned mega-coal mine – the biggest in Australian history – is sited on W&J’s traditional lands in the Galilee Basin. If built, the mine would obliterate the environment, cultural heritage and sacred places of the W&J people.

For the mine to proceed,  Adani requires extinguishment by the Queensland Government of native title on parts of W&J lands. W&J’s native title is immediately vulnerable to extinguishment by the State Government since the injunction against the State and Adani was lifted before the trial. The State is not obliged to wait for the outcome.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners for the area do not consent to the Carmichael Mine. Their claim group meetings have four times rejected a Land Use Agreement with Adani since 2012. W&J will do everything in their power to stop it, including taking High Court action.

The case is brought by five members of the W&J Native Title Applicant, acting on behalf of the claim group who voted down the purported agreement on four occasions (most recently on 2 December 2017). The action is supported by the Traditional Owners Family Council.

None of the five Traditional Owners who are applicants in the court case, who are also members of the Registered Applicant, have signed the Project Agreement or given their “acceptance”.

BASIS OF COURT ACTION:

The W&J will argue, amongst other things, that the Adani meeting in April 2016, from which it is purported the W&J people voted 294 to 1 for an ILUA, was rorted. The meeting was comprised of large numbers of people who were not members of the W&J group with the claim to native title in the area, and did not have the right to make the decision.

Knowing this, the ILUA should never have been certified by Queensland South Native Title Services, and consequently never registered by the National Native Title Tribunal.

W&J will also argue a decision could not authorise extinguishment of native title in the land because the areas to be extinguished were not identified by Adani. It’s a fundamental in Australian law that no one gives up their rights in property without knowing what is being taken from them.

Media Contact: Anthony Esposito, W&J Traditional Owner Council advisor – 0418 152 743
W&J website:  http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/
W&J facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WanganandJagalingou/

 

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