Federal Court Adani decision: W&J’s rights fight will continue


Latest News / Friday, July 12th, 2019
MEDIA STATEMENT: Friday 12 July 2019

‘Near enough is good enough for Aboriginal rights’ under Native Title Act

Adani ILUA remains tainted, W&J to consider High Court action

Court decision will not silence dissent

THE Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council says today’s decision by the Federal Court dismissing their appeal confirms that when it comes to Aboriginal rights in Australia, “near enough is good enough” under the Native Title Act.

The Council says it will not give up, but instead consider grounds to seek leave to the High Court and work to build public pressure on the Queensland Government to accept their part in dividing their people and ignoring their rights. 

The full bench of the Federal Court today dismissed the appeal brought by five W&J appellants against the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA.

The Council noted the decision hinged only on the question of whether the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA were handled according to the legal requirements of the Native Title Act. It did not ‘pull back the veil’ on the contested dealings leading up to and after the Adani meeting more than three years ago.

The Council says no one can draw any conclusion from this decision that those attending the Adani meeting were actually entitled under the laws and customs of Wangan and Jagalingou people to sign away their rights in land for monetary compensation.

Wangan and Jagalingou Council senior spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba said: “Today is NAIDOC. A day of celebration for our community, where we come together to share our culture, and our dreams and aspirations, with our families and friends, brothers and sisters. We join together in strength as First Nations people. 

“But this is a day to remember. On ‘black fella day’ the Full Bench of the Federal Court denied us our right to stand up and say ‘that’s our land and we’re not going to give it away’. 

“We don’t intend to give up. We will build public pressure on the Queensland Government to accept their part in dividing our people and ignoring our rights. 

“In keeping with international law, there has never been any free prior and informed consent when it comes to this ILUA with Adani. A lot of our people were played into position by the Government and Adani and stitched up by a legal process they have no control over.

“We will continue our fight with the support of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as demonstrated at NAIDOC here in Brisbane today,” he concluded.

Murrawah Johnson, a spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Council said: “Our Council will continue to pursue all legal and political avenues in opposition to the coal mine and the destruction of Wangan and Jagalingou Country.

“We will review the decision of the Federal Court and take legal advice. We will consider any grounds to seek leave to the High Court. The Adani ILUA has been upheld, as Justice Perry said, “notwithstanding any deficiencies which might have tainted the validity of the certification”.

“With Adani commencing initial works, our focus will shift to exposing the failure of the State Government in issuing the mining leases without an ILUA and without consent. 

“Today’s decision does not retrospectively validate the Queensland Government’s abysmal conduct in backing Adani and stepping on our rights.

“We will challenge the issuing of environmental approvals, given without regard to First Nations cultural rights in our land and waters, and the plants and animals that depend upon them. 

“We know we have always had a fight on our hands. That fight is not just with Adani, but with the Federal and Queensland Governments. It is shameful that the State delivered mining leases to Adani without an ILUA or our consent, and twice the Federal Government intervened in our cases to ensure Adani’s interests, including in this most recent appeal”, she concluded. 

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