Traditional owners have taken legal action on Adani’s newly approved mining leases for it’s Carmichael coal mine.
Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) representatives 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,” a statement from the W&J people said.
The W&J people have today released a October 2015 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.
“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,” W&J spokesperson and traditional owner Adrian Burragubba said.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
Queensland Resources Council Acting Chief Executive Greg Lane said the appeal is another reminder of the urgent need for the government to overhaul the approvals process in Queensland.
“We could almost hear an audible groan from regional Queenslanders today when they heard that Adani is facing yet another legal roadblock after already having been the subject of multiple legal actions,” Mr Lane said.
“The announcement today of another appeal lodged by an Indigenous group adds yet another delay to the vital job-generating project that regional Queenslanders are relying on after the massive downturn in the resources sector.
“Even the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham has said, ‘everyone deserves their day in court, but not four years in court,’ and even he conceded after the Adani decision that the project was likely to face further legal hurdles.”
The QRC called on the Palaszczuk Government to urgently overhaul the approvals system so that resource projects are not subject to onerous delays that are holding up job-creating projects for Queensland.