Adani threatens First Nations land owners with jail time if they return to their ceremonial ground


Stories / Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

An ABC report this morning shows that Adani made legal moves to expose two W&J land owners to possible jail time if they return to a ceremonial camp on the company’s Carmichael mine site. The report says Adani Mining engaged a private investigator and equipped security guards with body cameras as part of obtaining a Supreme Court order. 

[View the ABC report here]

Adani’s interim injunction specifically prevents First Nation land owners, Adrian Burragubba and Coedie McAvoy, from returning to the ceremonial site on the area where native title was recently extinguished by the Queensland Government for the mining company. It would prevent all other W&J Family Council members from exercising their rights and practicing their culture on that land without Adani’s “permission”.

The W&J Council says this continues the attack on its people for opposing the destruction that Adani’s mine would cause to their ancestral lands and waters, and denies them their fundamental rights.

Wangan & Jagalingou cultural leader and Council spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba, said: Adani continues to harass and denigrate us through the courts and the media. We are not protestors and activists; we are First Nations land owners practicing our laws and customs on our country. We are the people from that land that Adani wants to destroy with its Carmichael Mine. We are standing up for our international law rights as Indigenous people and holding Adani to account”.

“Our intention was and still is to make peace with the Ancestors in a solemn spiritual ceremony, practicing law and custom, before Adani’s destruction commences. We won’t be asking Adani’s permission to practice our culture. We will continue to exercise our individual native title rights and push harder for proper recognition of our peoples’ original sovereignty. 

“Until this recognition occurs and is reflected in our legal rights, we will remain exposed to State and mining industry predation upon our ancestral lands and waters.

“The land area that Adani intends to exclude us from is where we held our ceremonial camp in August. The area was Unallocated Crown Land at the time but the State, without prior notice, extinguished our native title and gave Adani freehold control.

“We know what that means under the Australian property law system, and we don’t intend to be played by Adani into a situation where we face police action, contempt of court, and imprisonment. Nor will we be engaging Adani in the court on this matter. Adani’s case is a ruse. They are trying to drag us into more costs, waste our time, and minimise our claim to the land” he said.

The W&J Council says that the Government failed its people in the first place. They say it is the State’s long-term policy to open up the Galilee Basin, and that policy never involved First Nations consultation and consent in keeping with their rights. 

Mr Burragubba says: “The State wants to exploit our country for coal revenues and has enabled and backed Adani. This Government is now being used by Adani to extinguish our property rights and cultural sovereignty and guarantee the corporation’s interests against us. 

“There has never been genuine free, prior, informed consent for Adani’s destructive mine. As a First Nations people we’ve been subjected to legalised racial discrimination. The Native Title system does not allow us to say no to mining projects. It denies us our rights and usurps our laws and customs. It has coerced our people into a mining land use agreement, which misrepresents what our people really choose and masks the destruction this coal mine will have on our beautiful country and culture.

“We will not be bullied into submission by Adani, who doesn’t know the first thing about First Nations laws and customs and hides behind the power of a colonial property law system; a system that derives from the same colonial power that subjugated the Indian peoples. Adani dishonours the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and his country- men and women who fought to throw off the yoke of colonial oppression. Now he perpetuates the same colonial mindset on our people and country in modern day Australia.

“The recent ruling in Fortescue Metals Group v Warrie on behalf of the Yindjibarndi People reminds us that the exercise of traditional rights over country is a legitimate form of occupancy, and is not viewed as being in the same context of Anglo-Australian relationships to land titles.“As the justices said, Aboriginal people do not fit into non-Aboriginal concepts of property, the exercise of proprietary rights and the enforcement of property rights,” he concluded.

“The recent full bench Federal Court ruling in Fortescue Metals Group v Warrie on behalf of the Yindjibarndi People reminds us that the exercise of traditional rights over country is a legitimate form of occupancy, and is not viewed as being in the same context as Anglo-Australian relationships to land titles.

“As the Justices said, Aboriginal people do not fit into non-Aboriginal concepts of property, the exercise of proprietary rights and the enforcement of property rights,” he concluded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.