Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners: Judge's decision doesn’t change the facts

August 20, 2018
Adrian Burragubba
Adrian Burragubba.

Our rights and our country are under dire threat. It feels like we’re going backwards 230 years ... to when the forces of assimilation and conquest began dispossessing Traditional Owners of the land.

We are resolute in putting a stop to the pretense that Adani’s sham “Indigenous Land Use Agreement”  amounts to the consent of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. On August 17, as you will have heard, the judge ruled against us.

But this decision doesn’t change the facts that a mix of coercion and inducements were used to overturn our decisions. When we exercised our right to free, prior and informed consent, we said NO.

The judgement doesn’t address this and simply confirms to us, that we have no voice under the Native Title system if we stand up for our sacred sites and country under our laws and customs.

Adani engineered it, the primary judge has now approved it - though we have instructed our legal team to prepare an appeal to a higher court - and the Government chose not to side with us. They refused to accept our decisions and interfered in our business. We are being subjugated.

This ruling says it’s legal to have our ancient law and culture, and our ongoing Tribal rights to land, merely voted away by a group of people who do not hold the cultural sovereignty to our Country. Australian lawyers and Native Title bureaucrats provide the paperwork for an act of betrayal.

We are calling on the Queensland government to rule out extinguishing our native title in any part of our land. Can you help by contacting one of these key decision-makers and telling them not to extinguish our native title before we’ve had the chance to appeal?

Once native title is gone, it is gone forever. It would be a travesty for the Government to wipe out our title for Adani. If Queensland can stop them dredging the Reef before Adani has money, or pull the pin on $1 billion NAIF funding, they can surely protect our rights to our land. They must not hand a private corporation land title at our expense, based on discriminatory laws.

The Queensland government has a clear choice here, and the court’s ruling in no way forces them to proceed to extinguish our native title. Don’t be fooled, it is up to the Government what happens next.

We wrote to the Premier before the decision, and now we need all our supporters who care about our rights to help us protect our land, waters and culture and urge the Queensland Government not to extinguish our native title before we’ve had the chance to appeal.

We are holding a snap action at Queensland Parliament on Tuesday to tell the Queensland Government to support our rights and not extinguish our Native Title. If you are in Brisbane, please come along and stand with us.

Adani can’t be trusted. How can they say they "respect the rights, history, future intentions and requests of the traditional owners"?

We are Traditional Owners, we are the people from that land, and its custodians. Adani have never respected our decisions, or our right to free prior informed consent, or our aspirations to care for our ancestral country.

Adani split our people for their own ends and then try to claim they care. They should walk away in shame for all the damage they have done.

We have provided the Queensland Government with senior counsel advice that definitively shows that they are not obliged to extinguish our native title rights under any circumstances.

But the threat that we will lose our native title to this ruthless corporation forever is real. State and Federal Governments have bent over backwards to give Adani everything else they need to proceed, including their environmental approvals. We can’t trust them not to cave into Adani again this time. They need to know that people all around this country are watching how they react to this decision, and will be outraged if our rights are sacrificed to this corrupt mining corporation.

We are determined to keep fighting Adani in the courts, the media and the political arena. And earlier this month we submitted a request to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for urgent action, to help us prevent our Governments from "violating" the international pact against racial discrimination by wiping out our native title. We’re getting ready to appeal this decision and preparing to take this all the way to the High Court if we have to. But we can’t do it alone.

Please continue to supports us. Your donations will help us with our ongoing legal and political fight.

Our people have sacrificed a lot to resist the destruction of our land and culture. We’ve weathered significant financial and personal costs to take on Adani. But nothing could compare to the cost of losing our land to this vicious corporation for their mine that would destroy our country forever.

We held out hope for this legal avenue, but anticipated a conservative judgement within the Native Title system, and were prepared for the decision. Our Council has vowed to continue to defend our lands and waters from Adani’s destruction.

No administrative decisions that block our rights will stop us standing our ground to defend and protect Wangan and Jagalingou Country and our connection to it. We do not consent to a mine that will destroy our culture and land, and rob our people of a sustainable future, so a rich company can get richer exploiting and burning the coal beneath our feet.

Please stand with us for a more just country,

Adrian Burragubba, Murrawah Johnson & Linda Bobongie for the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council

If you are in Brisbane on August 21 please join us for a protest outside Queensland Parliament house at 8.45 AM to demand the Queensland Government doesn’t extinguish our native title rights!

And as always, you can click these links to donate to our Defence of Country fund or purchase the “Adani, No Means No” t-shirt, or encourage others who care about land justice to join our fight.

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