Monday 27 May 2019
State warned, act carefully or face more litigation and international scrutiny
The Wangan and Jagalingou Council are on heightened alert as the Queensland Government buckles under political pressure to deliver environmental approvals to Adani. The W&J Council cautions the State not to ignore due process or to sacrifice Aboriginal rights in the clamour for easy answers and Adani’s false promises on jobs and benefits for Indigenous people.
W&J Council senior spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said: “We have resisted the sacrifice of our land and waters for Adani since 2012. We continue to pursue our legal rights and seek justice in the courts. It doesn’t matter whether a community of people, black or white, ‘vote’ for coal, if it offends the basic principles of property law and everyone’s common law right to enter into or refuse contracts.
“The Queensland Government has always relied on their power to override our objections. The Government issued Adani’s mining leases in 2016 in the full knowledge that they had no approval from the W&J people. As the Native Title Tribunal registrar said at the time, when issuing the authority: “I accept that the native title party has not made submissions in support of the grant of the mining leases, nor have they consented to the grant of the mining leases”.
“We have no trust that the Queensland Coordinator General, Mr Barry Broe, will handle his latest directive from the Premier – to push through approvals for Adani – with impartiality.
“As seen in a recent exposé by National Indigenous Television (NITV), some of our people succumbed to perceived threats by the Coordinator General that they would lose their native title if they didn’t accept a land use deal, and were induced with payments and false promises by Adani. These processes are a fundamental breach of our inalienable human rights, and deny us our right to say no. (The NITV story is here).
“The State breached our rights before, how can we trust they won’t do it again when political pressure mounts?” Mr Burragubba said.
THE W&J COUNCIL warns the Queensland Government to tread carefully. Any attempt to circumvent the resolution of important legal issues under appeal in the Federal Court, to expedite Adani’s mine, will be seen as an act of bad faith, and bring further challenges under Australian and international laws.
W&J Council spokesperson Murrawah Johnson said: “Three days ago, Deputy Premier Trad said the Government will allow “all legal processes to run their course” to ensure that the outcome “can’t be questioned in terms of political interference”.
“But we are already seeing signs that the State Government will buckle under political pressure from Adani and the coal lobby, as it scrambles to shore up its position in central Queensland after the ALP vote collapsed there at the Federal election.
“We are wary they will now attempt to expedite land tenure arrangements for Adani at our expense, before the conclusion of the court process. All along, the native title system has been allowed to play to sectional interests in the Aboriginal community. Those putting their hands up for mining deals are favoured and promoted, but when we assert our right to say no to the opening up of the Galilee Basin – our traditional lands – we are obstructed at every turn”, she said.
THE W&J COUNCIL will also continue to pursue its people’s rights internationally. The inquiries of the UN CERD have not yet run their course.
Mr Burragubba said: “The Council will be calling for further UN intervention and ongoing monitoring, as our rights as the original sovereign people of Wangan and Jagalingou country are increasingly at risk from hostile governments, the mining sector, and even pro-mining elements within the Aboriginal community itself.
“Matt Canavan and Australian governments don’t rule on international law. The Federal and Queensland Governments must still be held to account. Native title laws are meant to uphold our rights, not allow them to be manipulated and trampled.
“The Native Title Act proclaims that Australia recognises international standards for the protection of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. And that Australia is bound by international covenants on the elimination of racial discrimination; on economic, social and cultural rights; on civil and political rights; and the acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“But there are aspects of the native title system that are not just, and not in accord with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We have found deep flaws in the native title regime.
“We stand in our laws and customs and will continue to assert our right to say no to the Adani mine and to pursue the self-determined future we want, without destruction of our country for other people’s profits.
“We don’t accept the legitimacy of government action that would sacrifice our inherent land rights and usurp our common law rights. We will take our case into international jurisdictions”, he concluded.
For more information, contact:
Anthony Esposito, W&J Council Adviser, 0418 152 743