The Queensland Government has wiped clean the Native Title on Wangan and Jagalingou country for the controversial Adani Carmichael coal mine, despite not having consent from all Traditional Owners.
Wangan and Jagalingou representatives met with State Government officials lastFriday to negotiate a halt on the issuing of leases for the mine’s infrastructure.
Instead the representatives were notified that the Government had granted Adani exclusive possession freehold title over approximately 1,385 hectares of country, including an area currently used for ceremonial purposes.
The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council has condemned the move, saying the Council will continue to defend their homelands.
Traditional Owners have since set up camp on country in protest, refusing to leave despite continued demands from Adani for police to remove them.
Wangan and Jagalingou cultural leader Adrian Burragubba said Traditional Owners have been “made trespassers on our own country.”
“Our ceremonial grounds, in place for a time of mourning for our lands as Adani begins its destructive processes, are now controlled by billionaire miner Adani,” Mr Burragubba said.
“With insider knowledge that the deal was already done, Adani had engaged Queensland police and threatened us with trespass.”
Mr Burragubba alleged that the Queensland Government and Adani had worked “hand in hand” and “sealed the deal in secret.”
“The mining state of Queensland and its corporate vanguard, Adani, have never had our free prior consent to occupy our lands, or determine that a coal mine will be allowed to destroy them,” Mr Burragubba said.
Five of the 12 claimants of the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners have with Adani opposed the mine, battling unsuccessfully in court to prevent it.
The remaining majority of claimants are in support of the mine.
A spokesperson from Adani has refuted Mr Burragubba’s claims, saying the company has “worked closely with Traditional Owners since 2011 to ensure the customs and wishes of Indigenous people are respected and supported.”
The spokesperson also said Adani has delivered four ILUAs with four separate Traditional Owner groups – including Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners.
“In order for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement to proceed, a vote must be undertaken amongst the Traditional Owner group. The ILUA vote for the Wangan and Jagalingou People held in 2016 saw 294 people vote in favour of the Carmichael Project proceeding, and [one] vote against,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Mr Burragubba has taken several legal actions against the Carmichael mine and that the Queensland Government is complying with all the necessary standards, including respecting the ILUA with Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners.