W&J submission to the Inquiry into NAIF

Stories / Sunday, August 6th, 2017


W&J Submission to Senate Economics References Committee inquiry

into the governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility


28 July 2017

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) are the Indigenous Traditional Owners of a vast area of land in central-western Queensland. We are the first people and our country – Wangan and Jagalingou country – is in what is now called the Galilee Basin; and in the area designated as Northern Australia for the operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

The W&J are directly impacted upon by the NAIF Board’s pending decision on an application by the Adani Group, as we are Traditional Owners of the area in which the Carmichael mine and related mining infrastructure is proposed.

The W&J Senate Committee submission is here.


Adani’s much touted Indigenous Participation Plan talks in big headline numbers but would deliver the equivalent to Aboriginal people in the region of about $5,000 a person per year.

The re-allocation of a relatively small proportion of the public investment sought for this project from NAIF could deliver substantially greater employment and development benefits to our people than anything available from this project. And it could instead be focused on sustainable, innovative and culturally compatible ventures and support for growth in new 21st Century industries, including renewable energy.

The development model deployed under current policy settings simply undervalues our peoples’ land, knowledge and cultural resources; perpetuates an economic model in which we cannot aspire to high levels of employment and education and enterprise; and assigns us the role of marginal mendicants to the dominant economic interests of a society grounded in colonial appropriation, and mired in an archaic industrial model.

The governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) does not serve us specifically as Traditional Owners who are potentially adversely affected by the Carmichael mine project, with enabling funding from NAIF; nor as Indigenous people in Northern Australia, historically disenfranchised while others have and still prosper from the economically productive land base which was taken from us without consent or restitution.

The NAIF mandate does nothing to address this in a just and equitable manner and should be redrawn to bring about a proper consideration of, and investment in, culturally-aligned and self-determined Indigenous development.

The endorsed Submission of John Quiggin, Kristen Lyons, and Morgan Brigg of the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland

We note the public interest submission of John Quiggin, Kristen Lyons, and Morgan Brigg of the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland [attached]. Their submission refers to a research paper, “Unfinished Business”, which arises from collaboration the W&J Council is undertaking with them, and the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, under a Global Change Institute Flagship Project [attached]. For more information – http://www.gci.uq.edu.au/we-are-people-land.

The views in their submission and accompanying documents are endorsed by the W&J Council. We particularly endorse their views on Indigenous Development. The NAIF does not proceed from the basis of a defined, transparent and meaningful Indigenous Engagement Strategy leading to a clear agenda for Indigenous development.

In fact, there are no public terms for Indigenous engagement under NAIF, much less any substantive or meaningful process that could encompass the needs, preferences and different circumstances of Indigenous peoples throughout the vast area referred to as Northern Australia.

Further, as with all matters involving the Adani project and the W&J, there are contested and litigated aspects which make it clear that Adani does not have full ‘free, prior and informed consent’ of the W&J, as required to meet the international and legal rights of Indigenous Peoples, and is subject to ongoing court hearings. The most pertinent of these challenges is to a purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement for the Carmichael mine project, which is scheduled for hearing in the Federal Court in March 2018.


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