Australia: Traditional Owners take legal action on Adani’s Carmichael leasesPublished by MAC on 2016-04-16
Source: Statement, Morning Bulletin, Mining.com
Previous article on MAC: Australia: Adani's Carmichael mine clears another hurdle
Traditional Owners take legal action on Adani’s Carmichael leases
13 April 2016
Traditional Owners take legal action on Adani’s Carmichael leases; release letter from QLD Mines Minister Lynham saying no intention to issue leases until Federal Court challenge resolved
Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) representatives today filed an interlocutory application in the Federal Court of Australia challenging the leases that have been issued for the Adani Carmichael coal mine, slated for their traditional homelands in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
The Application will seek to have heard that the mining leases, announced by QLD mines minister Anthony Lynham on 3 April, with the imprimatur of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, were not properly issued.
The QLD government issued the mine leases in the absence of the consent of the W&J people to Carmichael mine, and in the face of their three-time rejection of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani, most recently at an ILUA authorisation meeting on 19 March 2016. (Attached: W&J legal counsel’s letter notifying Minister Lynham and Premier Palaszczuk of rejection of ILUA).
In another new development, the W&J people have today released a October 2105 letter in which Minister Lynham says he ‘does not intend to issue’ Carmichael mining leases until after the resolution of the Judicial Review of the decision of the Native Title Tribunal that mining leases may be issued – a ruling that effectively allowed that State to override the decision of the traditional owners in October 2014 to reject the mine. This challenge, brought by Adrian Burragubba on behalf of the W&J representative council and as a native title claimant, is still awaiting a judgment. (Attached: Lynham letter and original letter from W&J).
W&J spokesperson and traditional owner Adrian Burragubba said, “We have formally rejected this disastrous project three times. In this light, Minister Lynham’s issuing of the mining leases is a shameful episode in the trashing of Traditional Owners’ rights by the exercise of government power.
“In a letter to our legal counsel in October 2015, and again this year, Minister Lynham said that he intended to await the outcome of our Federal Court Judicial Review before issuing any leases. His letter was clearly not worth the paper it was written on, and is now a demonstrable show of his bad faith and the betrayal of us by the Government.”
Mr Burragubba continued, “Minister Lynham’s decision is also reckless politics. As he himself indicated publicly, issuing the mining leases prior to the determination of our legal challenge to Carmichael puts the leases at risk. The Minister’s treatment of us, and his failure to allow legal due process to play out, calls into question his integrity and the exercise of his powers.
“In filing this action today, we are making good on our pledge to oppose this mine every step of the way. We will continue to pursue all legal avenues, Australian and international, and test the limits of the law in this country”, said Mr Burragubba.
To this end, the W&J people today also announced they have filed a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on the systemic discrimination in the administration of Native Title system in Australia, a forerunner of further Federal Court action; and registered a newly-constituted Native Title Applicant, which gives full effect to the W&J Claim Group decision of 19 March to reject a land use deal with Adani.
“These actions show we are standing strong,” said Mr Burragubba. “Investors take note – Carmichael is plagued with uncertainty and moral hazard, notwithstanding any mining leases; and more than 10 of the world’s big banks have ruled out funding it because it’s unviable, and lacks our consent.
“The fact that Premier Palaszczuk took personal ownership of and trumpeted the decision to issue the Carmichael mine leases demonstrates that the QLD government’s recklessness and moral bankruptcy go to the very top,” Mr Burragubba continued. “This energises us for the fight. The Premier’s justification – ‘10,000 jobs’ – is just Adani’s lies. It’s an act of gross irresponsibility for her to mouth Adani’s disinformation when she knows Adani’s own expert admitted in court that the truth is one-seventh of that number.
“Premier Palaszczuk has now revealed her contempt for my people and our rights, and her willingness to pander to a foreign coal billionaire by greenlighting destruction of our country on a massive scale.
“She can rest assured we will not stand by and be bullied into accepting that this mine is inevitable. We are expected to forfeit our claims to our lands and consent to the destruction of our country on something that has no financial backing, offers false promises of jobs, and before our claim can be heard”, said Mr Burragubba.
“But we simply will not stand by while the QLD government licences the destruction of our homelands. The future of our people and culture, of our lands and waters and plants and animals, and our sacred sites and stories that connect our homelands together into our spiritual home, cannot and will not be based on coal mining.
“A pittance from compensation agreements, and a few minimum-wage jobs in a dying industry, are not what our people, especially our young people, deserve. They are not worth sacrificing our dignity, our freedom and our ancient legacy for. They are not worth subjecting our fellow Australians and the world community to in an era of dangerous climate change”, Mr Burragubba said.
“If the State and Adani want their leases to take effect, they will have to forcefully take our rights away in the full view of the world. Will will not consent. We will stand strong together. When we say no we mean no”.
For comment: Adrian Burragubba 0428 949 115; Murrawah Johnson 0439 919 891
On legal matters: Col Hardie, principal, Just Us Lawyers, on W&J’s claim group meeting and rejection of Land Use Agreement with Adani, 0408 697 145
Benedict Coyne, Boe Williams Anderson, on the Federal Court interlocutory application against the issuing of the Carmichael mine leases 0434 915 713
Background: Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743
Traditional Owners’ rejection of Carmichael stands, despite Adani bank rolling bogus “land use agreement”
16 April 2016
Sham agreement to be challenged in the Federal Court
Representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) claim group today slammed a meeting organised and funded by Indian giant Adani, which purports to be a gathering of the W&J people but was convened by the company to push a land use deal for its Carmichael mega-mine.
Adrian Burragubba, senior W&J traditional owner, native title applicant and spokesperson for the W&J Family Council said, “This was a sham meeting which has engineered a sham outcome. We will challenge Adani’s phoney land use deal in the Federal Court and properly discredit it.
“Not just once but three times W&J traditional owners have voted to reject Adani taking our lands and digging the Carmichael mine on our country. But right from the start foreign billionaire Adani’s company has been intent on getting what it wants, and used its power and money to divide our community.
“Just last month the W&J claim group met of our own accord and said ‘no’ to Adani. We made it clear that Saturday’s meeting is not a legitimate meeting of the claim group and the resolution to approve Adani’s deal is not legitimate either,” Mr Burragubba said.
See Guardian Australia investigation,“Revealed: traditional owners accepted payments to attend Adani meetings”, Sat 16 April.
Murrawah Johnson, a W&J Family Council spokesperson and native title applicant said: “Adani has consistently tried to fracture us for a mine that will never be built. But we will stand strong. We have told Adani, we have told the State Government that we do not accept their sham process, and we will fight it all the way through the courts.
“The company has lied about job creation, lied about the mine’s economic benefits and continues to try entice our people with coloured brochures full of empty promises. Adani, working closely with the Queensland government, has stitched up a dubious outcome.
“The Indian coal giant has worked to dupe us into signing away our rights by offering a measly compensation package, and money just to sign up their deal.
“True to form, Adani has bussed in large numbers of people, including non-members of our claim group who have no connection to the country which this dangerous mine is set to destroy. Many members of the claim group who last met in March refused to attend Adani’s meeting today,” Ms Johnson said.
Lawyer for the W&J applicants opposing Adani’s Carmichael mine, Mr Col Hardie, said: “In native title proceedings it is very important that mining and exploration companies stand at arm’s length and allow Traditional Owners a proper opportunity to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. In this case Adani appears to have gone over the line in pushing for a particular outcome. In my view, the benefits they are offering are below standard. They have done little to respect the views of the Traditional Owners who have opposed the project on cultural and environmental grounds.”
On Wednesday W&J representatives launched further legal action in the Federal Court challenging the Palaszczuk government’s issuing of mining leases to Adani for Carmichael mine. The government issued the mine leases in the absence of the consent of the W&J people to Carmichael mine, and in the face of their three-time rejection of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani, most recently at an authorisation meeting of the claim group on 19 March 2016. Mines Minister Lynham had said on numerous occasions that he would await resolution of the Judicial Review in the Federal Court but reneged on his word.
W&J representatives have also filed a complaint with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) about the racially discriminatory way in which the Native Title system operates, as a forerunner to further court action.
Mr Burragubba, who filed the HREOC complaint, said: “We are disadvantaged by the law and denied our international rights to self determination and free, prior informed consent. We are required to participate in the native title regime against a backdrop of financial disadvantage and discrimination.
“We will continue to pursue all legal avenues, Australian and international, to put a stop to this diabolical and dangerous project. Our rights are not protected and we will test the limits of the law in this country. We will never give our consent, or have our consent extracted by misrepresentation, misinformation and inducement.
“This is just the start in another chapter of our long but determined struggle to defeat this coal company and all those who would sell our ancestral land and heritage out from under us. The future of our people and culture, and of our lands and waters and plants and animals, and our sacred sites and stories that connect our homelands together into our spiritual home, cannot and will not be based on coal mining.
“Our fight is far from over. When we say no, we mean no,” Mr. Burragubba concluded.
For comment: Adrian Burragubba 0428 949 115; Murrawah Johnson 0439 919 891
On legal matters: Col Hardie, principal, Just Us Lawyers 0408 697 145
Background: Anthony Esposito, W&J council advisor, 0418 152 743
Approval of Adani's Queensland coalmine faces another legal challenge
Conservationists claim the state government failed to ensure the planned Carmichael mine was ecologically sustainable
27 April 2016
Adani’s plan for Australia’s largest coalmine faces yet another snag, with a conservation group mounting what is now the eighth legal challenge to the contentious project.
The group, Land Services of Coast and Country, filed an appeal for a judicial review of the Queensland government’s environmental approval of the Carmichael mine in the supreme court on Wednesday.
The group argues the state’s environment department failed in its obligations to ensure the mine planned by the Indian conglomerate was an ecologically sustainable development under the Environmental Protection Act, which it described as “the community’s safety net”.
The Coast and Country spokesman, Derec Davies, said the decision to grant environmental authority to the Galilee basin mine “ignored climate change totally and failed to properly take account of the true jobs figures – 1,464 net jobs not the 10,000 advocated”.
“What is most concerning is the fact [the department] failed to properly consider and apply the legislation under which it operates,” Davies said.
The department’s decision in February followed a land court recommendation to approve the open-cut mine, which would produce up to 60m tonnes a year of thermal coal to be shipped to Asia over 60 years.
That ruling resulted from another Coast and Country challenge. During the hearing, an Adani economic expert conceded the number of jobs created would be lower than the company had claimed, while the judge recommended added safeguards concerning species and ecological protection.
The string of legal challenges to Adani’s project – which, the Indian conglomerate complained, fed into “regulatory uncertainty” for its $16bn investment – led the federal government to flag moves to curtail “lawfare” by green groups.
A spokesman for Adani said it had previously factored into its planning the prospect of “additional, politically motivated challenges seeking to delay the project”.
Davies said the principle of sustainable development within the act had been in place since 1994 as “an overarching filter used to assess a proposed development’s environmental harm against its purported benefits”.
“Our appeal to the supreme court is simple,” he said. “We have laws to protect the environment that we rely on for our food, clean water and the air we breathe, and that supports our unique biodiversity.
“In our opinion, the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has made an error of law. The department cannot just ignore those laws that will allow the big end of town to develop a huge, polluting coalmine that will create catastrophic environmental harm both now and into the future.”
The Environmental Defenders Office Queensland, which acted for Coast and Country in the land court, is again acting in the appeal.
The federal court is yet to rule on an Australian Conservation Foundation appeal against federal environmental approval of the mine.
Some representatives of the mine site’s traditional owners, the Wangan and Jagalingou people, have several legal actions under way to challenge a land use deal with Adani signed by other representatives.
Adani, which had spent six years working with various governments on environmental approvals, had “for some time warned of the threat to major, job-creating projects proceeding in Queensland [posed by] endless appeals”, its spokesman said.
“As it relates to Carmichael, the approvals given are the most strict and rigorous of their kind ever given for a single development,” he said.
“When the Queensland government announced their strict, science-based approval had been given to the mine at Carmichael, the company noted that its timelines assumed additional, politically motivated challenges seeking to delay the project and deny the benefits of jobs, taxes and royalties of our state from proceeding as planned.
“Notwithstanding this challenge, Adani stands ready to deliver on its plans to build a long-term future with Queensland.”
Acrimony and legal threat as Indigenous group approves Adani mine
Anti-Adani Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council says it will launch a federal court challenge over ‘sham meeting’ to endorse Carmichael mine
17 April 2016
Traditional land owners have voted in favour of allowing a coalmine to be opened by Adani in central Queensland, but some from the Indigenous group have labelled the vote a sham.
More than 300 people attended the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) meeting on Saturday where Adani said members “voted overwhelmingly” to authorise an Indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) with the miners for the construction and operation of the Carmichael mine, west of Mackay.
“The company has worked positively and constructively with elected leaders within W&J over several years to ensure that the company’s mine at Carmichael not only proceeds, but proceeds with the benefits of the mine being realised by traditional owners at every stage of the project,” the mining company said in a statement.
But there are competing interests in the W&J claim group, which acts similarly to an electorate made up of 12 families, which have complicated the company’s ability to secure an ILUA.
On Saturday an investigation by Guardian Australia revealed details of the payments and other financial dealings by Adani and its advocates in the W&J in their bid to overcome four years of resistance to the Carmichael mine.
The payments had not been not detailed to the broader W&J group, despite rules set down last year by that any “monetary benefits” be reported and held in trust.
They have become a flashpoint in a dispute over who legitimately speaks for traditional owners who had repeatedly rejected the mine. Adani has denied any wrongdoing.
It is understood that the seven applicants who supported Adani have been paid collectively at least $10,500, on top of travel and accommodation costs, to attend meetings with the company this year. They are Irene White, Patrick Malone, Les Tilley, Norman Johnson Jr, Craig Dallen, Priscilla Gyemore and Gwendoline Fisher.
Malone and Gallen confirmed to Guardian Australia that they had received sitting fee payments.
After the five anti-Adani applicants complained about the undisclosed payments, the seven paid by Adani reported the payments to to the group’s native title lawyers, who were satisfied with the disclosure.
Adani formally gained the support of a majority of the 12-person W&J native title applicant group for the first time in January.
It said Saturday’s vote to endorse an Indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) by the broader W&J group was properly convened and independently chaired in accordance with statutory process.
However the anti-Adani group, Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, has released a statement describing it as a “sham meeting which has engineered a sham outcome”.
Spokesman Adrian Burragubba said the council would challenge “Adani’s phoney land use deal” in the federal court.
“Just last month the W&J claim group met of our own accord and said ‘no’ to Adani,” he said.
“We made it clear that Saturday’s meeting is not a legitimate meeting of the claim group and the resolution to approve Adani’s deal is not legitimate either.”
The council has also accused the Indian mining giant of bankrolling a “bogus” land use agreement.
Wangan and Jagalingou launch legal action over Adani Mine
13 April 2016
WANGAN and Jagalingou (W & J) representatives, the traditional owners of Queensland's Galilee Basin, have announced they will launch legal action over the Adani Carmichael Mine leases.
W & J this morning announced they are filing an interlocutory application in the Federal Court of Australia seeking to deal with the April 3 decision by Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham, made with the imprimatur of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, to issue mining leases to Adani for its Carmichael coal mine.
W & J will claim the leases were not properly issued.
They will also release a letter from October 15 in which Minister Lynham said he 'does not intend to issue' mining leases for Carmichael until after the resolution of the current Federal Court Judicial Review challenging the mine. This challenge is still awaiting a judgement.
W & J will also confirm a recent meeting of the W & J claim group on March 19, rejected a Land Use Agreement with Adani for Carmichael mine for the third time and rejected any further dealings with Adani.
W & J will also announce they have filed a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Human Rights Commission on the systemic discrimination in the administration of the Native Title system in Australia, a forerunner of further Federal Court action.
W & J will hold a press conference about the legal action at the QLD Government Executive Building in Brisbane this morning.
Adani $12 billion Carmichael coal project faces fresh legal challenge
15 April 2016
Despite a recent and long-dragged approval of Indian conglomerate Adani Group’s $12bn (A$16.5bn) Carmichael coal mine in Australia, the project may have to wait even longer to see completion, as it now faces fresh legal challenges from land owners.
A group representing the indigenous people Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J), traditional owners of the land proposed to host Adani’s coal, rail and port project, filed this week an interlocutory application in the Federal Court of Australia challenging the leases issued by the Queensland government.
“We have formerly rejected this disastrous project three times,” said W&J in a statement. “In this light […] issuing the mining leases is a shameful episode in the trashing of Traditional Owners’ rights by the exercise of government power.”
The group claims Queensland authorities issued the mine leases without their consent, even though Adani reached last month several compensation deals with landowners.
The Carmichael project has faced relentless opposition from organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects, which has scared banks from lending to the project.
In August last year, a federal court had revoked the actual approval, citing environmental concerns.
Adani $12 billion Carmichael coal project faces fresh legal challenge
The project was later approved by the Australian government in October, but under what environment minister Greg Hunt called “the strictest conditions in Australian history."
Two months later, Australia allowed an expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland, which will enable shipping of the fuel from mines in the Galilee Basin, including Adani Group’s Carmichael mine.
According to official estimations, Carmichael will contribute $2.97bn each year to Queensland’s economy and has the potential to create 6,400 new jobs: around 2,500 construction positions and 3,900 operational posts.
If built, Carmichael would be Australia's largest coal mine.