EXPLAINER: Representation of W&J

WJ letterhead 1

REPRESENTATION OF THE WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU PEOPLE (W&J)

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]:

21 JUNE 2015 CLAIM GROUP MEETING REPLACES PRO-ADANI APPLICANT WITH NEW REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 12 FAMILIES

  • 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.)

June 2014 W&J AUTHORISE ADRIAN BURRAGUBBA

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

October 2014 W&J REJECT LAND USE AGREEMENT WITH ADANI FOR CARMICHAEL

  • 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.

November 2014 W&J OBJECT TO ADANI APPLICATION TO NATIVE TITLE TRIBUNAL

  • 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.

January 2014 W&J AUTHORISE ADRIAN BURRAGUBBA TO REPRESENT THEM IN THE TRIBUNAL

  • 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.

February 2015 W&J AUTHORISE ADRIAN BURRAGUBBA

  • 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

April  2015 TRIBUNAL RECOGNISES W&J DO NOT CONSENT TO CARMICHAEL

  • 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.

May 2015 FEDERAL COURT ACCEPTS W&J APPEAL AND JUDICIAL REVIEW APPLICATION

  • 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.)

21 JUNE 2015 CLAIM GROUP MEETING REPLACES PRO-ADANI APPLICANT WITH NEW REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 12 FAMILIES

  • 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.

25 JUNE 2015 FEDERAL COURT ACTION COMMENCES

  • 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.

W&J DECISION-MAKING & GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES

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 CLAIM GROUP

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.

THE APPLICANT

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 TRADITIONAL OWNERS’ FAMILY REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL

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.

THE ABORIGINAL CORPORATION

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.

 

SUMMARY

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

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