Adani has adopted a legal strategy to silence the right to report and speak out

Contributed by Adam Carlton

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) which among others represents journalists, has condemned the Adani corporation for attempting to use Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Journalists who use information alleged to be confidential by Adani, have become a target.

The MEAA said: “It is concerning when litigation is designed to impede journalists carrying out their duties in reporting on matters that are in the public interest. Any attempt to intimidate, threaten or harass journalists or to prevent them from reporting… is clearly an attack on press freedom.”

This method of attack has been used against community groups and individuals campaigning against the Carmichael mine and associated Abbots point rail link for more than a year.

The threat to the right to speak is serious enough to prompt the alarm of lawyers and a former supreme Court Judge.

AJ & Co, which is acting for Adani, came up with the strategy. This is to take up an aggressive legal posture against individuals, and trawling social media for evidence of bias, then use legal process to bankrupt the target.

The circular below was sent to Adani by AJ&co.

This is an abuse of the law.

Community groups, Indigenous traditional owners and journalists have all confirmed recent contact by AJ & Co. Even the Environmental Defender’s Office Queensland has received an intimidatory letter on 12 September.

“Instead of spending its legal energy on complying with Queensland’s laws, Adani is hiring lawyers to silence its critics in a well-funded campaign of intimidation, EDO Queensland’s chief executive and solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg said.

The strategy is being used against Wangan and Jagalingou elder Adrian Burragubba.

“Adani’s attempt to bankrupt me is clearly guided by this litigation strategy and is an abuse of the legal process,” Burragubba said.

“We can reveal we have previously received threats of massive economic torts and damages from AJ & Co unless we stop speaking out. We will not be silenced.”

Photo from AAP: Adrian Burragubba

Another target has been Ben Pennings, who is a prominent activist with the Galilee Blockade.

Brian Walters, a Melbourne-based QC and human rights advocate said “It is a fundamental feature of free speech that people should be allowed to comment on the way that corporations and other powerful people are using their power.

“What appears to have happened here is a large corporation has agreed to use, or has tried to use, threats of legal intimidation to silence the public in speaking out about its proposals”.

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