9 May 2017
Proper consultation with Indigenous Leaders needed
Adani shouldn’t determine Native Title reform agenda
The Attorney General George Brandis has cut corners and conducted a shabby consultation process on the Native Title Bill to be debated in the Senate this Wednesday, failing to include Traditional Owners across Australia, say Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners fighting Adani’s coal mine in Central Queensland.
Senior spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, Mr Adrian Burragubba said, “The Attorney General has whipped up a false sense of urgency so he can push through this Bill, which is designed for everyone but the Traditional Owners whose rights it is meant to uphold.
“Brandis has engineered a cursory and limited consultation process which is grossly inadequate for amendments which will have such a significant and long term impact on our rights.
“One short public consultation hearing in Brisbane, and some closed door meetings with some CEOs of native title services and representatives of the mining industry, is an insult when considering the national reach of this Bill.
“The Labor Party, who were the original architects of native title laws under Prime Minister Paul Keating, understood that good native title laws are built on direct consultation with a broad group of Aboriginal leaders, and are meant to right an historic wrong.
“We are encouraged by reports that the Opposition, in this 25th anniversary year of the Mabo decision, is troubled by the Government’s handling of this Bill, and is seeking to ensure proper consultations with Traditional Owners. We have urged all Labor, Green and Xenophon Senators not to pass this bill.
“A host of of pro-Adani supporters, including the Queensland government, some unions, local government mayors, the National Party and the Deputy PM, have been trying to strong-arm Opposition leader Bill Shorten into guaranteeing the bill’s passage.
“Reform of native title laws should not be determined by Indian miner Adani’s interests or timetable, yet the haste with which this bill is being pushed through, and the public statements by the Government at the most senior levels, indicate that Adani’s mine is their key driver,” Mr Burrabubba said.
Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said, “As Traditional Owners we have a right to determine our own future and make our own decisions about our lands and waters. It is not up to unelected CEOs and lawyers who are talking to the Government.
“The Government has failed to make a case for why this Bill is urgent, or make a convincing argument why it needs to overturn the Federal Court’s decision in McGlade.
“The 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision should be a moment when the government begins a long-overdue national dialogue on far-reaching native title reform. It would be a disgrace if the Government was successful in impeding our rights at this time.
“The National Native Title Council continues to call for the laws to be rushed through. The Council does not have a general mandate to speak on behalf of Traditional Owners, and its ‘sign-off’ is not sufficient to convey the support or otherwise of Traditional Owners for the bill.
“The Government has made no effort to directly inform Traditional Owners about its bill or seek our views. It has instead held closed-door meetings with compliant Native Title Representative Bodies and Native Title Service Providers, who depend of Government funding and authorisation for their operations.
“The Bill should not be put to a vote until these representative bodies immediately undertake a transparent process of consultation with all the Traditional Owners in their areas,” Ms Johnson said.
For more information and to arrange interviews:
Anthony Esposito, W&J Council advisor – 0418 152 743.