Adani’s Christmas pantomime hides a more sinister tale

Latest News / Friday, December 21st, 2018


Friday 21 December 2018

Adani’s insistence that its mine is commencing is turning into a Christmas pantomime that masks the full brunt of the corporate conglomerate’s destructive and divisive influence, say Traditional Owners.

W&J Traditional Owner and lead council spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said, “We know first hand that Adani can’t be trusted and will cover their activities with clever PR. But we don’t buy it and we continue to defend our lands and waters from destruction and prevent them building their mine”.

Mine construction thwarted

Adani do not have several key approvals critical to them making any real progress on building the mine. In addition, the W&J Traditional Owners Federal Court full-bench appeal will now most likely be heard in May 2019, with a decision some time after that. Indications are that the Queensland Government will not extinguish native title at the Carmichael site before then, preventing Adani from building its critical mine infrastructure.

Mr Burragubba said: “On Tuesday, an application in the Federal Court by Adani to throw out our legal challenge against the mine, unless we paid $160,000 within two weeks, was not accepted by Justice Robertson.

“We beat back Adani and their high-priced legal team in the Federal Court. The judge ruled that Adani’s demand for $160,000 was “disproportionate and unpersuasive”. Instead, we have to put forward $50,000 by the end of January, which we are on track to do.

“Our court case to throw out Adani’s ‘rent-a-crowd ILUA’ will proceed. And our campaign to protect our ancestral lands and waters is as strong as ever”, he said.

Cato Galilee and Woongal Services reveal dubious conduct

Adani persists with it’s charade of benefits for Aboriginal people, but as exposed today, Adani employs a member of the W&J community who was central to overturning our decisions to reject Adani’s land use deal, and presided over the collapse of a million-dollar W&J trust fund belonging to our people.

Mr Burragubba said: “We have experienced first hand the breach of trust, and the way Adani divides our people. And now over $1m of W&J People’s assets stand to be wiped out while we face mounting costs defending our lands and waters.

“Cato Galilee was controlled by several members of the W&J Applicant who received unauthorised financial benefits. Adani, along with the Qld Coordinator General, worked with these people to undermine our traditional authority and decision making.

“Cato Galilee directors betrayed us and went into private, unauthorised discussions with Adani after the W&J claim group voted ‘no’ for the second time in October 2014.

“In 2015, under the direction of Ms Irene Simpson, and fellow director at the time, Mr Patrick Malone, Cato Galilee entered into an unauthorised Memorandum of Understanding with Adani on behalf of W&J.

“This occurred after the claim group had rejected the Adani ILUA, and the authorised Family Representative Group instructed the applicants to oppose the deal. The MoU was subsequently rejected by our people at an authorisation meeting in that year” he said.

Ms Simpson is employed by Adani as an Indigenous engagement officer. Mr Malone heads a Western Kangalou company, while working with Adani on W&J’s cultural heritage. His son, Mr Jonathan Malone, has majority interests in the pop-up company, Woongal Environmental Services.

Woongal has been given a contract to monitor environmental outcomes on Wangan and Jagalingou country.

“We have condemned Adani’s recent announcement that Woongal Environmental Services is a ‘W&J certified business’. This ‘certification’ is false. This contract is not with the W&J people and its supposed benefits are typically meagre. Adani are taking ‘green washing’ and ‘black cladding’ to a new level.

“Companies like Cato Galilee and Woongal Services are being used as fronts. They undermine the foundations of our society and proper governance”, Mr Burragubba said.

Financial threats mount

This morning Justice Reeves confirmed his ruling on costs arising from the Federal Court hearing to strike out the ‘Adani ILUA’ in March. Both the judgement and the costs order are being appealed. If successful, the costs order will be reversed and Adani will have to meet the W&J appellants’ fees.

Mr Burragubba said: “Experience tells us that Adani’s cost demands are excessive. The threat of high cost orders is meant to stop us standing up to protect our human rights and our country. We have received threats of massive economic damages and bankruptcy.

“We are appealing to the full bench of the Federal Court against the decision of a single judge, and against these heavy cost orders. And we are alerting the UN Special Rapporteurs for Indigenous Peoples Rights and for Human Rights Defenders about the burdensome costs orders we face in Australia when using the judicial process to defend our rights, our lands and our sacred sites.

“These rulings will have a chilling effect on the willingness of Indigenous peoples around Australia to defend their rights from interference by government and private companies.

“High costs orders create a discriminatory court system that allows only wealthy people to bring claims and perpetuate the history of discrimination against Indigenous peoples in Australia.

“However, we will not be deterred in the face of grave personal threats. Our fundamental rights are at stake and the future of our people and country are on the line”, Mr Burragubba concluded.


For more information contact:
Anthony Esposito, Adviser
0418 152 743


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