Fed Court decision: Adani leases issued despite Traditional Owners’ express rejection

The Queensland State continues to authorise dispossession

Responding to a Federal Court decision today, in one of the long running cases bought by Traditional Owners against the Adani mine, the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners expressed their profound frustration with the way the native title and court processes have over-ridden their decision to reject an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani.

The appeal against the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT), which authorised the issuing of mining leases to Adani by the Queensland Government, was dismissed. The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Representative Council are seeking the advice of their senior counsel as to whether to pursue the matter in the High Court.

In May 2015, Adrian Burragubba, on behalf of W&J Representative Council, sought to uphold the decision of the W&J people in October 2014 to reject an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani, the second time since 2012.

Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says, “We have fought and will continue to fight for our right to say no to the destruction of our country through mining and to have our rights properly recognised and respected by the State Government.

“We are proud of our efforts to hold Adani and the Queensland Government to account through the Courts. The Courts are the place we have to pursue justice for our people and we will exhaust all legal avenues in pursuit of our right to self-determination and our right to give or withhold consent.

“Today’s decision hangs on the technical limits of judicial review of the issuing of leases for the Carmichael mine, and not the embodiment of our rights. We will redouble our commitment to uphold the original decisions of our people which are to oppose this mine of mass destruction.

“We now look to our trial in March 2018 which focuses on Adani’s fake ILUA. We have three times voted No to Adani’s grubby deal.

“Despite the entirely valid rejection of an ILUA by the W&J claim group in October 2014, Adani persisted. First by seeking a ruling from the NNTT to ignore our native title rights. Adani has actively worked to split our group. The ugliest display by Adani was to bankroll a sham meeting that they hold up as authorising an ILUA.

Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Murrawah Johnson, says, “Adani and the State Government didn’t ‘negotiate’ and achieve the free, prior, informed consent of the W&J people. Instead Adani, backed by the State Government and past NNTT decisions, relied on the threat that they would compulsorily take our land.

“The meeting, that all these Adani supporters cite where the purported majority voted for the ILUA 294 to 1, is not a true expression of the W&J Traditional Owners. Over 220 of that meeting’s attendees are people that are not Wangan and Jagalingou people according to our law and custom. They have never been involved in the W&J claim or decision making, and are identified with other people and claims.  They were bussed in and paid for at Adani’s considerable expense, while hundreds of the rightful W&J Traditional Owners refused to attend this sham meeting.

“Our Traditional Owners Council, including representatives of 9 of the 12 apical families, has upheld the original decisions of the W&J claim group to reject an ILUA with Adani, and has followed through on the mandate given to it which is to reject a land deal with Adani.

“We will not stand by while a campaign is waged against us by the mining lobby to discredit our representatives, to compel us to accept a deal we don’t want, and to take away our rights to our ancestral lands and waters by legal compulsion.

“We will continue to expose the unfair and underhanded way in which Aboriginal people are stripped of their rights in this country when they say no to mining. There is no greater battlefront for this than coal mining in Queensland.

Legal representative in the case, Benedict Coyne, says, “Our client is carefully considering the judgement, and prospects of further appeal for special leave to the High Court of Australia.” 

 

For more legal comment:

Contact Benedict Coyne, Anderson Fredericks Turner  – 0434 915 713.

For more background, and to arrange interviews with W&J Council spokespeople:

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

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