The Federal Court reserved its decision on May 28 and adjourned so parties can consider a complex administrative issue that could mean that an appeal by Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council (W&J) against Adani could be thrown out.
The Full Court of the Federal Court came across the potential problem on the second day of the appeal hearing. It relates to a decision of a court registrar, not heard at the original trial, which threw out objections to Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA). The agreement, which Adani requires to develop the mine, extinguished the group's land rights.
They have appealed that decision, with their barrister Stephen Keim SC this week providing examples of what he said were lax processes in identifying a group of unregistered people who turned up to meetings.
Outside the court, the traditional owners said they feared their land in central Queensland could be handed over to the mining giant before their court battle was over, following fallout from the May 18 federal election.
Murrawah Johnson, a spokeswoman for W&J, said the group believed the ILUA process was flawed.
Outside the court Johnson said: “We are deeply concerned by our experience of misconduct, corruption of process, and stacking of a meeting to obtain a contract that signs away our rights to the land without our free prior and informed consent.
“All along, the native title system has been allowed to play to sectional interests within the Aboriginal community.
“Only those who put their hands up to mining deals are favoured and promoted but when we say no to the opening up of the Galilee Basin, our traditional country, we are obstructed at every turn.”