“We stand in the way” of Adani mine say Traditional Owners

Traditional Owners Seek urgent meeting with Gautam Adani after filing objection to Carmichael mine Land Use Agreement. 

Injunction will be used to block any attempt to impose a deal

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council have sought an urgent meeting with the Chairman of the Adani Group, Mr Gautam Adani during his sudden visit to Australia to meet the Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier. They have also announced that last Friday they filed documents contesting registration of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement which purports to authorise the Adani mine.

This morning W&J rejected the choreographed excitement of an announcement declaring Adani is at ‘final approval stage’, reminding the company and Mining Minister Lynham that they oppose the project. They also slammed the Turnbull government for earmarking $1 billion in Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) funding for rail to facilitate the mine.

Leading Aboriginal rights advocate, senior W&J Traditional Owner and Council spokesperson, Mr Adrian Burragubba, speaking from his country in Clermont says, “The Queensland and Federal governments have knowingly overlooked that we stand in the way of this mine and when we say ‘no’ we mean no. Through our legal actions we are intent on stopping this massive and destructive project from moving forward.”

A letter sent on behalf of the W&J Council by Mr Burragubba and youth leader and spokesperson, Ms Murrawah Johnson, told Mr Adani that the W&J had rejected an agreement with Adani Mining Pty Ltd and the State in authorisation meetings on three occasions and that Adani Mining had “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.”

Members of the W&J Council filed evidence and statements on Friday with the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) opposing any attempt to register Adani Mining’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) which the company claims to have made with the W&J people to allow the Carmichael coal and rail project.

Mr Burragubba says, “The Council has confirmed their position of rejecting this sham land deal with the local subsidiary of the Indian corporate giant Adani, and taken appropriate legal action to prevent the agreement from taking effect. Three times since 2012 our people have voted to reject Adani’s deal which will destroy our ancestral lands and culture. We are acting on our resolution to say no to this dangerous coal mining project”.

In their objection to the ILUA, submitted to the NNTT, lawyers for members of the W&J claim group described the meeting that purported to authorise the agreement as “a sham” and put forward detailed materials to show that the meeting was “composed of a ‘rent a crowd’ of persons who had never previously identified as Wangan and Jagalingou”.

Lawyer for the objectors, Mr Colin Hardie says, “The ‘agreement’ was produced by Adani Mining Pty Ltd and signed by the Queensland Government following what appears to be a stacked meeting, which Adani Mining organised and paid for in April this year. My clients will fight registration of this dubious ILUA every step of the way, including seeking an injunction to stop its registration”.

In March, the W&J held a claim group meeting at which they resolved to reject all dealings with Adani Mining, and replace several members of the native title applicant who took payments from Adani Mining to attend meetings designed to engineer a land deal, over the previous rejection of the W&J claim group. See Guardian story for background.

Ms Murrawah Johnson says, “Adani Mining has attempted, with State government backing, to divide our community and force a land use deal on the W&J people, working behind the scenes to buy us off using empty promises about the jobs and economic benefits the project will bring”.

Further background to legal action afoot
The objection to the ILUA follows a hearing in the Federal Court before his Honour Justice Reeves last Tuesday, 29th November.  The application was for new W&J representatives to be appointed by the court as Applicants to replace the present Applicant in the W&J native title claim on behalf of the W&J claim group.

In argument and affidavits before the court, W&J lawyers established that the meeting paid for and arranged by Adani Mining on April 16 could not rescind the decisions of the community controlled W&J meeting held on March 19, which voted to remove members of the Applicant who had received payments from Adani Mining, and rejected further dealings with the company.

Justice Reeves reserved his decision in the matter.

The judicial review in the matter of the NNTT’s approval of the issuing of mining leases by Minister Lynham is set for a hearing in the Full Bench of the Federal Court in February 2017.

Announcement of further legal actions will be made on Wednesday.

For more information and to arrange interviews: Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor –  0418 152 743

W&J website:  http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/

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