4th December 2016
Mr. Gautam Adani
Chairman, Adani Group
Dear Mr Adani,
Respecting our People, Country and Rights – a meeting request re Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council regarding your proposed Carmichael Mine
As a matter of urgency, the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council request a meeting with you during your visit to Australia to express our grave concern about the push by your company, Adani Mining Pty Ltd (Adani), and the Queensland Government to open the Carmichael Mine on our traditional lands.
Our apologies for the short notice, however we have only recently learned through the media of your visit to meet with the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland.
Below we have outlined some of the concerns we wish to discuss with you, and provide options for a meeting.
Respecting our People
We are Traditional Owners of most of the area of the Galilee Basin, including the proposed Carmichael mine site. Our people, represented through our Council, formerly rejected an agreement with your company and the State in authorisation meetings on three occasions. We cannot in all conscience consent to the destruction of our ancestral lands, cultural heritage and the environment. Nor can we allow such a project to contribute to the unfolding and dire effects of climate change that pose such great risks to all peoples.
In response to our refusal, your company has engaged in divisive and dubious conduct to secure approval from our people – going so far as to purport to have gained our consent from a meeting you funded in April this year.
We will not be fooled by such claims or steamrolled by lawyers and operatives in your hire. You should know that we have filed objections to any attempt to register the purported agreement with the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT). We have laid out the evidence to confirm that you have no proper consent from our people, and we are ready to take an injunction should any attempt be made by the NNTT to register this document.
That the Queensland Government backs you and has acted in concert is of no worth to us. You do not have our free, prior informed consent to surrender to you our ancestral lands and we will stand firm in the face of all attempts to engineer it.
Respecting our Country
If the Carmichael mine were to proceed it would tear the heart out of our country – destroying our ancestral homelands, the cultural landscape and our heritage; causing irreversible and major damage to the environment; and unleashing a mass of carbon into the atmosphere, propelling dangerous climate change. Nor would the impacts be limited to our lands – they would have cascading effects on the neighbouring lands and waters of other Traditional Owners and other landholders in the region.
One of the major reasons we would not authorise an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for the Carmichael mine was that there was insufficient honest explanation and acknowledgement of the adverse and irreversible impacts on the values of our country. It is not possible to give free, prior and informed consent to any developments without the major, cumulative and long-term effects of those projects on our natural and cultural values being properly identified.
We have no confidence that the Government’s environmental conditions placed on the mining leases will protect our lands, waters and heritage – and nor do these conditions adequately account for the value of our country as an interconnected and living whole; as a vital cultural landscape in which our ancestors reside. This is central to us as a People, and to the maintenance of our identity, laws and consequent rights. You cannot replace those rights or compensate for the loss of them. We remain implacable in our opposition to the destruction that would befall our country if your mine were to proceed.
Respecting our Rights
It is our recognised right under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold our consent to developments on our lands. At no time has the Queensland or Commonwealth Government, or Adani Mining, received our free, prior and informed consent for the issuing of mining leases and the development of the Carmichael mine.
Indeed, when we have said no, your company has sought to override our decision and pursue your outcomes through the statutory force of the National Native Title Tribunal – while at the same time the Queensland Government threatened compulsory acquisition of our land and rights.
This set a context for so-called negotiation which was neither free nor fair. You do not have our willing consent. As you should be informed, we are also challenging these matters through the Federal Court of Australia, and the Queensland Supreme Court, and do not intend to desist until our rights are recognised and respected.
We request that you acknowledge and fulfil your responsibilities to our rights to free, prior, informed consent under international law; to our own economic development; and to protection of our country and culture, and all the proprietary and usufructuary rights that reside in our long ancestral connection to those places, and in our religious beliefs.
We propose that you make a time and place to meet with a small delegation from our Council on Wednesday the 7th December 2016. We can meet you in Clermont, on our Country, or at your head office in Brisbane.
It is important to us to know that you will act responsibly to respect us, our Country and our rights; and give us a fair hearing and a substantial response to our concerns.
Of course, we are resolved to pursue our rights and interests in these matters. As First Peoples, we will defend our rights as traditional owners and custodians, protect our ancestral land inheritance, and maintain our rights and interests in and on our Country.
Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson
For the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council
Anastacia Palaszczuk MP
Premier and Minister for the Arts
Chief Executive Officer