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Court dismisses Indigenous land appeal against $21B coal project

Federal Court of Australia
Federal Court of Australia

An Asia-backed resources company has a valid native title agreement to build a $21 billion coal project on Indigenous Australian land, a court has ruled.

The Federal Court of Australia dismissed a legal challenge from a group of five Aboriginals who challenged the validity of India-headquartered Adani Australia’s indigenous land usage agreement (ILUA) for its Carmichael Coal Project, 160km northwest of Clermont.

Adani made a ‘reasonable effort’

A full bench found Adani’s public advertising on the proposed agreement and anthropological information collected was a “reasonable effort” to identify all who hold or may hold native title.

“In this case, the application was accompanied by a complete description of the boundaries of the area within which the ILUA intended that native title rights and interests were ‘intended’ to be extinguished,” Justices Steve Rare and Alan Robertson told the courtroom according to the Australian Associated Press.

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‘Flawed interpretation’

The decision came despite a bid from the Wangan and Jagalingou people to overturn a 2018 court decision that a ILUA between Adani and their people was valid.

The group accused Justice John Reeves of making a flawed interpretation of the Native Title Act, having “lacked rigour” and failing to make a reasonable effort to check if people voting on the ILUA had the right to do so.

They also claimed the ILUA failed to provide a “complete description” of the area of land where native title should be surrendered.

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