Traditional Owners vow to continue fight against Adani

The Indigenous owners are not giving up the fight. Photo: Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council

The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council (WJFC) lost its Federal Court challenge against Adani on July 12, NAIDOC day. But it is not giving up the fight against the mining corporation’s sham Indigenous land use agreement (ILUA).

The WJFC said the Federal Court’s decision to dismiss its appeal against the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA confirms the Native Title Act’s “near enough is good enough” approach.

It is considering its legal options while continuing to build pressure on the Queensland government to stop Adani going ahead with its proposed Carmichael coalmine in Central Queensland. 

WJFC senior spokesperson Adrian Burragubba noted the irony of the court decision being released on NAIDOC day. “This is a day to remember. On ‘black fella day’ the Full Bench of the Federal Court denied us our right to stand up and say ‘that’s our land and we’re not going to give it away’. 

“We don’t intend to give up. We will build public pressure on the Queensland government to accept their part in dividing our people and ignoring our rights.”

The WJFC noted the decision hinged only on the question of whether the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA were handled according to the legal requirements of the Native Title Act.

The ruling did not comment on the contested dealings leading up to, and after, the Adani-organised meeting more than three years ago.

The WJFC said there are no grounds to conclude from this decision that those attending the Adani meeting were entitled, under the laws and customs of Wangan and Jagalingou people, to sign away their rights in land for monetary compensation.

“A lot of our people were played into position by the government and Adani, and stitched up by a legal process they have no control over”, Burragubba said.

WJFC spokesperson Murrawah Johnson said that they would continue to “pursue all legal and political avenues in opposition to the coal mine and the destruction of Wangan and Jagalingou Country”.

“With Adani commencing initial works, our focus will shift to exposing the failure of the state government in issuing the mining leases without an ILUA and without consent.”

She said the decision does not “retrospectively validate” the Queensland government’s “abysmal conduct in backing Adani and stepping on our rights”.

Johnson added that the council would challenge the environmental approvals “given without regard to First Nations cultural rights in our land and waters, and the plants and animals that depend upon them”. 

“We know we have always had a fight on our hands”, Johnson said, adding that the fight is not just with Adani, but with the federal and Queensland governments.

“It is shameful that the state delivered mining leases to Adani without an ILUA or our consent, and twice the federal government intervened in our cases to ensure Adani’s interests, including in this most recent appeal.”