Wangan and Jagalingou man Coedie MacAvoy: ‘No more propping up coal miners’

September 16, 2022
Wangan and Jagalingou man Coedie MacAvoy with Stop Adani campaigners. Photo: Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians

Wangan and Jagalingou man Coedie MacAvoy outlined the strategy to take back their country in Western Queensland and to stop the Carmichael coal mine, owned by Adani. He made these remarks, Waddananggu, a Wirdi word for “the talking,” at the camp that marked one year of continued occupation on August 22.  They have been slightly abridged by Coral Wynter, who joined the camp.

• • •

I’m just planting the seeds and getting people to think it is their idea and they own it.

We have people all over the place standing up now [including] our family over here from Western Australia, the Murthudhunera.

We have Deebing Creek [near Ipswich]. They are still going; they have been there for 1200 days. For almost three years, they have been fending off AV Jennings property developers. They’ve got a burial there, with all the children’s bones. Just the complete disregard. They still want to [bull]doze through a children’s massacre site.

Where is the respect?

It’s about connecting with other mobs and other groups. That will get motivation for our people because we have been so subjugated for so long that nobody wants to stand out and do something.

They don’t want to rock the boat, because they have just been subjugated for so long.

It’s not 1920: they are not going to shoot us anymore.

Yes, it’s just being that example and showing other people that, you know, we can do this.

We can set up a camp and just go and live there, especially if you’re from Queensland.

If you’re a Black fellow from Queensland, you have got Human Rights Act, Section 28. Just rock up and set up a camp. Show them that section, they will go, “okay”.

If this was just as exciting as football, we would have a lot more Aboriginal people on board.

And it is just as exciting as football. They just got to realise.

Nothing is more adrenaline-rushing than standing down police officers in front of you and making them walk away.

That adrenaline rush is so much better than any sort of football.

But we are trying to teach the younger generation how to take pride in themselves. It’s all about owning yourself.

We put in a lot of hard work to get this far.

We have had to prove to people, this is who we are. We’ve had to prove to Clermont, [the nearest town, 300 kilometres way] we are not going anywhere. It is not just a stunt. This is not a protest.

We are still having to educate people in Clermont, because Adani is still telling people that we are “trespassers” and that we are “squatters”.

Stop lying to people! We’re not trespassers: We have stayed here for a year.

The ABC is going to press Adani this week [over the fact that] if we are trespassers, how are we able to stay there for a year?

So, things are starting to happen. More and more we are going to be able to get more evidence on [Adani] to shut this mine down.

I contacted the Department of Environmental Science. I put in a complaint about the dust. They still haven’t addressed the situation. They did a blast yesterday and it still came over this way.

I’m putting the department into a situation, where it never been before.

If a normal person makes a complaint to the department. “Oh yep, okay, we will lodge that complaint. And we’ll be in contact with the recipient.”

Usually the department panders to the corporations; to mining companies. Not this time, Jack. We have got our Human Rights Act. 

I sent them a nice little email. “Hey mate, look if you do not press this issue, and you don’t get to the bottom of this, my lawyers will happily put in a Human Rights case against you guys for not following through with your judiciary duty of care to take care of us while [we are here].”

I’ve got a weapon now that I am wielding: it’s the Human Rights Act. And I am slaying it everywhere. All departments get out of my way.

Queensland Health is involved now. I have been handing it out now left, right and centre to everybody, if they don’t do their jobs.

Our lawyers will happily do it. They are as keen as mustard. We will hatch the small wins first, then, we’ll start getting bigger wins.

We’ll start by taking [Queensland government-owned water corporation] Sunwater to court. I envision that it will get to the point, where [Adani] just can’t infringe on our rights to be here.

This means that he can’t do any blasting, when the winds are facing north, which is most of the time. So, we are just making his life that little bit more difficult.

We will get to that point where [Adani] can’t blast if [the wind] faces north.

“When can we blast?” I don’t know: you have to figure it out. “Well, they are not supposed to be there.” Well, they are there and you can’t move them. So you have to work around them.

So, they’ll get to that catch 22 point where they can’t blast, because it’s affecting our food source over here.

We’ll see how we’ll go. I’m pretty optimistic. I’ll throw anything at this lad, just to see if he’ll fall. He’s the richest man in the world.

He’s funded by [investment companies] Blackrock and Vanguard, as well. If anybody doesn’t know, [The] Vanguard [Group] owns double the amount of cash in circulation in the whole world: Vanguard owns double.

Blackrock [providing the finance for the Adani coal mine] has never been attacked the way [the Stop Adani] campaign has: it has never had someone with a video of Black fellows on the side of a truck [driving] past its headquarters for six hours. It has never seen something like that before.

We like to think outside the box to spread the message.

[The Stop Adani campaign] was [projected] up on the sides of the buildings of the World Economic Forum. So they can’t get away from our faces.

I am going to continue to haunt him and anybody that’s connected to him until he leaves.

You can’t do anything else. Just pack up and leave. Thanks. I’ll fix it all up; don’t worry, just leave.

I’m optimistic and the family is as well. We’ll get there.

Once we do, everything will be a domino effect. As soon as that happens, everything else will fall.

This has been the fight that the [Queensland] government has been propping up for so long.

Everybody has tried to fight this thing and the [government] continues to keep propping it up. Once this falls, everybody in the mining industry will feel it.

It’s the work that everyone has done over the years, including ringing financiers and insurers. Anyone know how many? About 100 companies.

Any new coal mine that tries to open up now, [it’s no go].

They did it to themselves, because they wanted to prop up [Adani]. Now over 100 companies won’t finance or insure any coal mines any more. That’s a pretty good thing.

[Wangan and Jagalingou man Coedie MacAvoy has been occupying the land at Adani coal mine for the last year.]

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