MEDIA RELEASE – 31 March 2017
The Federal Government should stop pandering to Adani and the minerals councils and get Native Title reform right, say Traditional Owners opposed to the Carmichael coal mine.
The Turnbull Government failed to push through its controversial Native Title Bill by the end of the Parliamentary sitting, despite the Labor Opposition’s readiness to negotiate on the amendments.
The next opportunity for the Federal Senate to consider the Native Title Amendment Bill is the Budget Sitting in early May and, if not then, the next sittings are mid June.
Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “We have fought hard against this change to the native title law. This is a major setback for Adani and the Qld Government, and their backers in the mining lobby, who thought the amendments would help them circumvent the legal challenge we have mounted to their purported land use agreement.
“The Wangan and Jagalingou council will continue to pursue Adani’s sham land use agreement through our litigation in the Federal Court.
“It is clear this controversial Bill does not sit well with many Labor and crossbench MPs, and the incompetent rush with which Attorney General Brandis went about it added insult to injury.
“While we welcome Labor’s resistance on some elements of the bill, which has prevented its passage through the Senate, it doesn’t diminish their unacceptable support for the key measures.
“The Senate Inquiry’s recommendations, backed by Labor, wind back Aboriginal rights after the Federal Court restored the balance in the Native Title Act. But if the amendments Labor supports are eventually passed, it will strip away protections and hand mining companies like Adani the means to divide and conquer us.
“The Parliament must go back to the drawing board on Native Title reform and deliver a just outcome that protects the integrity of our decision-making and our right to self-determination”, he said.
Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said,
“The Adani Board is reported to be set to make a decision within the next two weeks on whether to push on with the mine project . But it still faces our court actions. Right now their purported land use agreement is worthless.
“Both major parties back native title changes that would allow the kind of problems we’ve had with Adani and the Qld Government. It’s a situation where traditional owners have the threat of compulsory acquisition of our native title held over our heads, where financial inducements are used to divide our people, and where meetings are stacked to overstate support for proponents.
“The Government, Adani and the mining lobby are overconfident in their power to subordinate the rights of Indigenous peoples. What they don’t understand is how resolved we are, and how much support in the community we have, to defend them.
“Now that the Turnbull Government’s divisive Native Title amendment bill is languishing in the Senate, we will redouble our efforts. We should not have our rights violated by a land use deal we do not agree to, which would open the way to the destruction of our country. We will fight this bill and the Adani mine. Our fight is far from over”, she said.
BACKGROUND: The Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 is designed to overturn the recent McGlade decision which upheld the Native Title Act requirement that all applicants are needed to sign a land use agreement, after members of the Noongar peoples went to the Federal Court over failures in the process involving a $1.3B land use agreement with the WA government.
For more information and to arrange interviews:
Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.