Traditional owners fighting the Carmichael megamine are on the front foot this week, challenging in court the native title process which allowed the Qld Government to issue a mining lease without their consent, and meeting with Federal MPs to present arguments why the Government’s amendments to the Native Title Act threaten the rights of Traditional Owners and fail to deal with the real issues arising from the recent McGlade decision.
Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Mr Adrian Burragubba, says, “The W&J Family Council have voted three times since 2012 to reject Adani’s sham deal, while the National Native Title Tribunal gave the green light to the Qld Government to issue Adani with a mining lease, after the mining company applied to have our decision overridden. This is the crux of our appeal before the full bench of the Federal Court on Monday”.
Spokespeople for W&J, Mr Burragubba and Ms Murrawah Johnson, will also visit Canberra this week to meet with key Federal MPs about the Government’s Native Title Act Amendment Bill and explain the failures of the native title process. Labor and The Greens voted against rushing the Bill through the House of Representatives last week. The Bill is now being scrutinised by a Senate committee which is due to report on 17 March 2017.
“The Federal government rammed amendments through, without any evidence of a real problem. The changes follow pressure by the Queensland mining lobby, supported by the Queensland government, because Adani saw that its dodgy deal was threatened,” Mr Burragubba said.
“Adani has ridden roughshod over our rights, lied about job creation and lied about the mine’s economic benefits – all for an insulting compensation package for the destruction of our lands and heritage.
“The company engineered sham meetings and bussed in large numbers of people, including people who aren’t part of our claim group, and who had no authority to make decisions about our country, to give a veneer of consent for their destructive mine.
“In Canberra we will meet with MPs to demonstrate how the Native Title Act allows underhand and dishonest tactics from Adani and other mining corporations. Brandis’ amendments will ensure miners and other rich developers have even better tools to divide and conquer.
“It is clear from my discussions with other Traditional Owners that many share our concerns.
“The native title regime fails to support Traditional Owners’ rights to self-determination and undermines the integrity of our decision making. Amendments in 1998 failed to honour the spirit of the Mabo and Wik decisions, and further eroded our land rights. The current system allows companies like Adani to use dirty tactics to divide and manipulate our people.
“The Senate must take care with any changes to the Native Title Act and not be railroaded by the Government and their industry backers into amendments that will create more uncertainty and injustice.
“These native title amendments won’t save Adani’s fake ILUA. Irrespective of changes that may arise from the McGlade decision, we are taking legal action to overturn this scam,” Mr Burragubba said.
About the Federal court hearing – Monday 27 February 2017
The appeal to the full bench of the Federal Court of Australia challenges a decision of Justice Reeves in relation the National Native Title Tribunal’s decision to allow the Queensland government’s issuing of mining leases for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, handed down on 19th August 2016. The appeal is being run by Sydney Senior Counsel Craig James Leggatt SC and Barrister David Yarrow. The appeal proceeds alongside a challenge brought by Mr Burragubba and other W&J Traditional Owners in the Qld Supreme Court against the mining leases that have been issued by Queensland Minister for Mines, the Hon Dr Andrew Lynham and the Queensland government.
About W&J’s objection to Adani’s proposed Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)
A legal action is proceeding to the Federal Court to prevent the registration by the NNTT of Adani’s supposed ILUA. In the case of the purported Adani ILUA, the claim group at an authorisation meeting held in March 2016 expressed the view that the majority of applicants should not execute the ILUA and removed those applicants who were in favour of doing so. The claim group had twice before rejected an ILUA with Adani.
The Adani meeting in April 2016 was not an authorisation meeting of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. It was a meeting organised and paid for by Adani at a cost estimated to be in excess of half a million dollars to get its ILUA approved. At that meeting, Adani paid for Aboriginal people to attend who had never identified as Wangan and Jagalingou people before, and had never claimed native title on Wangan and Jagalingou traditional country where Adani’s proposed mine would be located.
For more information, and to arrange an interview with Mr Burragubba and lawyer for Mr Burragubba in the Federal Court action, Mr Benedict Coyne, Anderson Fredericks Turner and lawyer in the ILUA matter, Colin Hardie, Just Us Lawyers: Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743.
W&J website: http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/