MEDIA RELEASE – 13 June 2017
Native Title Bill fails us: Traditional Owners say Adani fight continues
Canberra, Australia. Traditional Owners fighting the Adani mine say passage of the Native Title Bill through the Senate today will be a further erosion of Mabo’s legacy, with Aboriginal law and custom and the property rights of Traditional Owners being trumped by the interests of miners and the native title bureaucracy.
Adani does not have the consent of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people for its mine. The W&J claim group have three times rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani since December 2012.
Senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, says “Adani’s problems with the Wangan and Jagalingou people will not be solved this week. We maintain our resistance and Adani will still have to contend with us. Adani is going nowhere fast – they don’t have money to fund their mine of mass destruction and they don’t have our consent.
“The trial to decide the fate of Adani’s supposed deal with the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners is scheduled for the Federal Court in March 2018, as confirmed by one of Australia’s leading native title lawyers Tony McAvoy SC. This will proceed no matter what happens to these native title changes.
“We have asked Labor to reconsider its position and for the Cross Benchers not to vote for the bill.
“Nothing has changed since the Bill was last rejected in the Senate in May, with no deeper or broader consultation with Indigenous communities around the country.
“It is clear from recent polling that Aboriginal people have not been informed about these changes or consented to them. The majority do not support the passage of the bill,” Mr Burragubba said.
Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, says “The Bill abandons a principled commitment by the Parliament to Indigenous peoples’ rights. The major parties have jumped to the beat of the mining lobby and their backers in the native title services sector.
“Settling native title amendments has become synonymous with looking after Adani’s interests, not about good law-making for Indigenous people.
“Adani want the major parties to enable them to take away our rights to say no, to mount legal challenges and resist their destruction of our lands and waters,” Ms Johnson said.
Yesterday senior researchers from the University of Queensland released a report, ‘Unfinished Business: Adani, the state, and the new Indigenous rights struggle of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council‘.
Ms Murrawah Johnson says,, “The Federal Government is complicit in a sham being perpetrated on the Australian public. The new report from the University of Queensland will enable people to better understand the truth behind our legal actions, this Bill and our objection to Adani’s proposed mine.”
For background and interviews: Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.
Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Registered Native Title Claimant, and on behalf of the Traditional Owners Council, are currently in the Federal Court seeking to strike out Adani’s purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA], filed by Adani Mining with the National Native Title Tribunal. An ILUA has been opposed by the native title claim group on three occasions since 2012. The ILUA litigation includes four grounds and will be heard in March 2018.
One of the grounds is that Adani does not have a valid ILUA capable of registration, since the law was confirmed in the recent Federal Court decision in McGlade. The Federal Government has been attempting to push through amendments to the Native Title Act to overturn the ruling in McGlade and protect Adani’s interests.
W&J has four legal actions underway in the Federal Court and Qld Supreme Court.
The W&J Council vow to do everything in their power to stop Adani’s proposed mega-coal mine proceeding, and will fight all the way to the High Court if necessary.
Adani’s planned Carmichael mine – the biggest in Australian history – would destroy a vast tract of W&J’s ancestral lands and waters in the Galilee Basin.