In an interesting move, the India's powerful Adani Group is said to be lobbying to bring about a change in the Australian federal government's Native Title law in order to enable it to go ahead with its highly controversial 16 billion dollar coalming project in the Queensland state of the country.
Bringing this to light, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, who have been fighting against one of the biggest coalming projects of the world, said they would “resist industry push for amended Native Title Act to secure Carmichael mine proposal” and “seek court order to strike out" the move.
Spokesperson for W&J Adrian Burragubba said, “The document Adani is trying to pass off as an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with our people is illegitimate. We launched action last year to defeat this dodgy deal and we are now taking decisive action in the Federal Court to have this fake agreement struck out”.
Burragubba said, “We have put evidence before the National Native Title Tribunal to prove that Adani does not have an agreement with W&J for its mine of mass destruction, which will destroy our ancestral homelands and waters, the cultural landscape and our heritage.”
He added, “Three times we have rejected any deal with the Indian mining conglomerate. Now Adani are on the back foot and have run crying to the Queensland Resources Council and the Federal Attorney General, asking them to do their bidding by pushing through an ‘Adani amendment’ to the Native Title Act.”
Burragubba claimed, his organization has come to know about Adani's move to amend the law from former Federal Resources Minister Ian MacFarlane, who “boasted at a Townsville business breakfast last week that he has spoken to his ‘good mates in Canberra’ about amending native title law.”
He alleged, “This is just additional proof that the Turnbull government is in bed with the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani and the Queensland mining industry.”
Representing W&J, lawyer Colin Hardie said, “Adani and the mining industry are trying to manufacture a sense of crisis and appear desperate to force the Federal government to rush through changes to the Native Title Act to suit their interests.”
The Native Title Act requires all members the Registered Native Title Claimants (RNTC) to sign the ILUA, which is a voluntary agreement between a native title group and others about the use of land and waters, for any changes.
At a meeting of the indigenous group called by the industry group, said W&J, over “200 of those in attendance were people not previously identified as W&J people”, adding, worse, some members of the RNTC refused to sign the purported ILUA – the reason why the Adani is seeking to amend the Act.
Meanwhile, an Australian not-for-profit legal practice group based in Melbourne, Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), has come up with an Adani Brief, which it has forwarded to the Australian governments and potential financiers seeking to back Adani’s coalming project, saying such a move “may expose them to financial and reputational risks.”
Giving details of the Adani Brief, EJA lawyer and report author Ariane Wilkinson said, “The extremely concerning international track record of the Adani Group in India raises serious questions about whether they should be allowed to do business in Australia.”
The report, among other issues, focuses on sinking of a ship carrying Adani coal, which saw oil and coal spill off Mumbai’s coast, damaging tourism, polluting the marine environment and attracting a AU$975,000 court fine; and constructing Hajira Port without approval, destroying habitat, claiming land and blocking access to fishing communities, which resulted in a court order to pay AU$4.8 million for compensation and restoration.