Statement and questions to Downer EDI Board

Stories / Friday, November 4th, 2016

On 3rd of November, Senior W&J Traditional Owner, Adrian Burragubba, attended the AGM of the large mining and engineering company DownerEDI on behalf of the Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council.  DownerEDI are set to garner the contracts from Adani for the construction and engineering should the Carmichael Mine ever go ahead.

Adrian Burragubba put this statement and questions to the Board and the shareholders.

I am Adrian Burragubba, a native title applicant for, and senior Traditional Owner of Wangan & Jagalingou country, where Adani Mining intends to build the Carmichael Mine in Central Queensland. I understand that Downer EDI has letters of award to construct this mine.

I am, along with my people, other members of the native title applicant, and the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, opposed to this mine, which would lead to the destruction our homelands, our culture, and the integrity of our laws and customs connected to the lands and waters of our ancestors.

Downer EDI should be aware that we have taken our rejection of the Carmichael Coal Mine to the Courts in Australia and to the United Nations, and that your business associate, Adani Mining, still does not have what it needs to proceed, including our consent.

Right now, I and others have submissions in the Queensland Supreme Court, before the full bench of the Federal Court, and with further Federal court actions under way. These challenge the authorisation of mining leases by the Queensland Government on the application of Adani over the express rejection by our people, three times, of a land use agreement with Adani. We are further challenging the purported negotiation and attempt to register an Adani Indigenous Land Use Agreement and ancillary agreements subsequent to this, which would have direct bearing on Downer EDI.

We have also made submissions to the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

We recently met with Michel Forst, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. In his End of Mission Statement on his visit to Australia, he said that our “right to free, prior and informed consent is not protected under Australian law, and government officials frequently fail to meaningfully consult and cooperate with indigenous and community leaders”.

He said that Indigenous rights defenders face a “lack of cooperation or severe pressure from the mining industry with regard to project activities, as has been exemplified in the case of the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine in central-western Queensland.”

This is our experience as the Traditional Owners. And it is an experience that includes Downer EDI.

Last year, your staff participated in a process that you took to be representative of the W&J people, but which had no authority. On March 9th 2015 your company along with agents of Adani met together with a group of six individuals hand-picked by the directors of Cato Galilee Pty Ltd.

At no time were these people instructed by the W&J native title applicant as a whole to do so; nor did they represent the view of the Claim Group, or the Family Representative Council as authorised by the Claim Group, which rejected dealings with Adani.

I as a member of the native title applicant was actively excluded from any purported decision making and from this meeting, the outcomes of which were subsequently presented as part of Adani’s Indigenous Participation Plan for the region.

No acknowledgement was made by Downer EDI of the fact that the Claim Group of our people had rejected an ILUA and associated ancillary agreements with Adani; nor that the matters were proceeding to the courts; nor that the participants of the meeting on March 9th had no authority to negotiate.

If the Carmichael mine were to proceed it would be a major human rights abuse that Downer EDI would be complicit in if you finalise a contract with Adani and become a beneficiary of the destruction of our lands and waters.

I ask the Board –

  1. Will you commit to meet with me and other representatives of our Traditional Owners Family Council who reject the imposition of this mine?
  2. Will you refrain from finalising and entering into contracts with Adani for the Carmichael mine project until all matters of our Free Prior Informed Consent, and other rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and all our International law submissions and Australian legal cases, are resolved?
  3. And will you respond in writing to these matters?

Thank you for your time and consideration of these concerns I present to you.


Adrian Burragubba, Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owner

Member of the Native Title Applicant

Spokesperson for the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council

Thursday, 3 November 2016


NOTE: The DownerEDI Board failed to give any undertaking or answer specifics, confirming instead that they are in the business of chasing coal contracts, that Adani is “a very large potential customer” and that they would rely on the State and Commonwealth Governments to deliver approvals. The CEO Grant Fenn also told Adrian after the meeting that DownerEDI wants to see the Galilee basin ‘opened up’.

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