From Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson, for the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council
Did you see ABC 4 Corners about Adani on Monday night? As we’ve known from the first time Adani approached us to put a massive coal mine in our country, this is a dubious company that resorts to the worst behaviour to get its way.
We have been standing up against this company for years. We first voted No to a ‘land use’ deal with Adani back in 2012! They pressed on.
Despite everything they’ve thrown at us, we are still standing our ground against Adani’s intimidation and deceit.
It’s some time since we last wrote. We’ve been quiet, but we have been working hard on the next phase of our campaign. We need your ongoing support.
Since last we spoke, we regrouped on country to inspire our Family Council, draw strength from our connection to our lands and sacred sites, and renew our forces for the fight.
As the Chairperson of our Council, Linda Bobongie, said –
“I claim my place, my people and my sovereignty. I have gained strength and unity from this visit to country, with my country men and women, like never before… How palpable it is to have your belonging given to you by your people, and not by the Native Title Act”.
We are standing firm in the face of a political and legal system stacked against us, a ruthless company intent on its own profit, and Governments conning the public into believing they are putting the community’s needs first.
And our legal action is still on foot.
We have a trial against the registration of documents signed by Adani and the Queensland Government, that masquerade as agreement to their mine of mass destruction. This trial is set for March next year in the Federal Court. Adani and the Qld Government need this ‘agreement’ to give them cover for the dispossession and destruction of our lands.
Without our consent, they cannot proceed, except by trashing our rights.
We have provided evidence to the court of Adani’s bad faith. Our affidavits show they paid key individuals thousands of dollars on a per head basis to recruit people to stack a meeting, even when they are not the right people to speak for country.
They show that a private security firm was on hand and guards were instructed to keep Adrian Burragubba out if he showed up, so there was no W&J leader to speak out against the deal.
They didn’t count votes when people did vote ‘no’, and they pretend there is near-unanimous agreement for the mine, when hundreds of Traditional Owners boycotted this stitch-up by Adani.
They let in outsiders to the native title group who are looking for employment, and led people to believe there would be large numbers of jobs and money flowing to W&J people, when there won’t be.
And of course, they failed to disclose the destructive impacts the mine would have on our lands and waters, and our culture.
We must fight this. Please assist with our strategy by donating to our Defence of Country Fund.
It’s far from over if we maintain our resistance. Adani still does not have what it needs to take our lands and build the critical infrastructure for the Carmichael mine. It desperately needs a land use agreement to give a veneer of consent and obtain the last piece in its plan – the final extinguishment of our native title.
And the State Government want it so they can pretend they haven’t already forcibly taken away most of our rights and handed them as mining leases to a dodgy company.
This is all at the expense of our lands and waters, our culture and sacred places, and a fair and sustainable future for our people. Even if this mine is never built, our rights are already the collateral damage from this mad episode in Australian politics.
We will not surrender.
But you won’t hear any of this in the mainstream media. Our people have been wearing the brunt of Adani’s activities in Australia for years now, and felt the wrath of Adani’s multi-million-dollar PR machine. But our litigation has held them up since our people said NO a second time in October 2014. Even an expose like 4 Corners doesn’t tell the story. To see the news, you’d think we were defeated or gone.
It is only by talking directly to you, our supporters, that our story is known. It is with your support that we have fought for years to repel Adani.
It is with your support we have run an effective strategy to put in place a line of defence against Adani.
We are still here, standing our ground. Rising up through our younger generations. And we are determined as ever to change the game for our people.
Adani will not go away. They are looking to fleece the public of their money to build a rail line to nowhere – and our Governments are bending over backwards to accommodate them. The end game on the Carmichael project is drawing near.
All people in this country who care about justice and decency, who are concerned for the environment and climate we live in and bequeath our children, must hold the line against this reprehensible project.
Remember, Wangan and Jagalingou are on the front line. It is the lands and waters of our ancestors that will be destroyed forever if this project goes from being a bunch of expensive TV ads and ‘fake it until you make it’ public relations events, to a coal mine of mass destruction.
We must stand our ground or our identity as a people, our laws and culture, our right to self-determination, will be the cost for a handful of dirty jobs in a dying industry. And our ancient legacy will be turned into profits sitting in an Adani account in the Cayman or Virgin Islands.
Adani is not the end game for our people. We must take our fight to the High Court and the UN.
Through our resistance we have exposed how the native title system and the rules of the mining game are designed to stop us saying no. We didn’t accept that, and when it looked like we could win, the Federal Government intervened and changed the rules.
With your help and support we fought hard to stop Adani tainting the legacy of Mabo in this 25th anniversary year. But the politicians changed the laws and turned the last vestige of our land rights in the Native Title Act into free kicks for the mining industry.
We must not abide this. Our standing under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and under international law, should be protected. We have begun the work of laying a track to the High Court, and will make our next submission to the United Nations in November to the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Our cause is not about one mine, or one Traditional Owner group, or our Country alone. We are resolved to take the fight as far as we can go. We want to make a difference for Aboriginal people being denied their rights and freedoms to be able to protect their country and determine their own future. And to work with others who believe Australia can be a just society.
You can sign Adrian Burragubba’s petition
Find out about events near you for the 7 October Big Day of Action to stop Adani