Stories / Monday, February 1st, 2016

Adrian’s statement for today… because you won’t read about it in the newspapers —


Adrian Burragubba, cultural leader and senior spokesperson of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners’ Council, will be in the Federal Court in Brisbane again today as his Judicial Review hearing continues.
Mr Burragubba is defending his rights and that of other Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin against a decision of the National Native Title Tribunal, in an application commenced by Adani in October 2014, and supported by the Queensland government. The decision of the Tribunal was that the mining leases for the Carmichael coal mine may be issued without regard to the fact that the proposed mine did not have the consent of the Traditional Owners.
Mr Burragubba said, “Adani justified its mine in the Native Title Tribunal with false claims that it will create 7,000 jobs and generate huge economic benefits. We say that these claims mislead the Tribunal and amount to ‘conduct analogous to fraud’. The Tribunal accepted Adani’s claims without proper investigation, and put these lies ahead of our rights as traditional owners.
“Further, we were denied natural justice and due process in the Tribunal. My submissions were ignored and proper inquiry into our refusal to consent and our concerns for the protection of our traditional lands and heritage, did not take place.
“The reason I am in the Federal Court, seeking my legal right within the Native Title Party, is to achieve some redress to this Native Title process that nearly always favours mining over Aboriginal people’s rights.
“But while we are defending our rights in the court and holding Adani and the State to account, Adani is attempting to fracture and divide our Native Title Applicant group in an attempt to undermine our people’s previous decision. This was a decision of my people, on two occasions, to reject an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani for the Carmichael coal mine on our lands, and this decision stands.
Mr Burragubba said, “If Adani was confident of winning in this case before the Federal Court they would not be coming through the backdoor, interfering in our self-determined decision making processes and attempting to engineer an agreement with my people using every unscrupulous and devious tactic in the book. The Tribunal gave them what they wanted and the State threatened compulsory acquisition of our land.
“Any new agreement cannot now be freely given consent. We said no to Adani, twice already, and here they are again dividing our people and misrepresenting our position, because they can’t afford to be seen trampling on our native title rights and smashing our cultural heritage and our environment to get to the dirty coal underneath.
Wangan and Jagalingou may be just months away from achieving their Native Title determination as the legal Native Title holders of the Galilee Basin and surrounding areas. It’s been a very long wait of over 12 years.
“We will not allow Adani to intrude and cause divisions amongst our people, and force us to relinquish our rights before we can gain proper recognition for them”, he said.
“Our Traditional Owners will fight Adani’s interference and reject their inducements. Their offers of money and concern for our welfare are hollow. They have no money and they are never likely to build this mine. The jobs they propose cannot be guaranteed and are meager in any event. If they build the mine, then they can employ our people – we will not sign away our rights forever and agree to our country being smashed on the basis of their promises. We won’t be giving them the appearance of having done the right thing. The Traditional Owners of the mine area will stand and fight with the backing of our Council.
“We will not trade away our human rights for the false promises of a foreign-owned mining company. We will not be manipulated by this company which is acting in blatant contempt of the court arguing on one hand that they have the right already to build the mine, while dividing our group in the hope of securing an agreement that they still don’t have.
“They are acting in violation of our right to self-determination. They will never get consent from me and the other Traditional Owners in Wangan Jagalingou country where they vainly hope to build their mine.
“It is up to Wangan and Jagalingou people first, without pressure from Adani or the Queensland Coordinator General, to decide whether we should even entertain such a proposal.
“We will ensure that our native title rights and interests remain intact while we demonstrate our continued connection to our ancestral lands and waters. We have maintained those rights and interests in our country from time immemorial.
“Our purpose in saving the Doongmabulla Springs, the Carmichael river and the Moray Downs area is to protect the vitally important evidence of our history and connection in the land. My intention is to build a foundation on that ancient knowledge and connection to support a Determination of our Native Title, and to protect what is significant to our existence as Wangan and Jagalingou people for our future generations.
“The significance of the totemic beings, rituals, ceremonies and ancestor dreaming associated with the Carmichael mine area is essential to our identity and to our claim for our rights in land.
“Our ancestors are still alive in the land. We did not consent, we have not consented, we will not consent to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine on our ancestral lands”, he said.

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