Aborigines to visit US and European banks to prevent funding of Australia’s biggest coalmine on their country

Adrian Burragubba

Plans by the giant Indian Adani corporation to establish Australia’s biggest coal mine in the state of Queensland have hit double trouble as Aboriginal traditional owners announced a landmark Federal Court challenge, on the eve of a world tour to urge Wall St and European investment banks to shun the damaging project. “The Wangan and Jagalingou people, Indigenous Traditional Owners of central Queensland’s coal-rich Galilee Basin, have vowed to stop the AUD $16.5 billion Carmichael mine – the biggest in Australian history and one of the world’s largest. If the mine goes ahead, the W&J’s vast traditional lands and their ancient connection to country would be “disappeared” forever,” W&J Traditional Owner and spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba, said.


“This court action challenges the decision of Australia’s National Native Title Tribunal that the Queensland government may issue mining leases for Carmichael.


“This challenge is unprecedented in the history of Native Title Tribunal decisions. If necessary, we will take our case all the way to the High Court", Mr Burragubba said.


“We will communicate to the banks that we do not consent to Carmichael, and the reasons we cannot allow this mine to go ahead. We will remind them that any bank that funds Carmichael will be breaching important human rights principles to which they are signatory; principles requiring that projects that affect Indigenous Owners have their consent. We’ll urge them to honour their obligations and commit to ruling out funding,” said Mr Burragubba. See more from their media release here.


A declaration that will be given to lenders claims the mine "will tear the heart out of our country".


Australia’s most prestigious daily, The Sydney Morning Herald, quoted the traditional owners as saying the Adani project, which would cover 280 sq km, would "permanently destroy" their ancestral homelands.


Adani have repeatedly challenged Mr Burragubba’s authority to speak on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. But Mr Burragubba says he represents nine out of 12 family groups that have a native title claim over the area where the Carmichael mine would be built. Adani claim their legal right to build the mine is solid.


"Nine of the family groups sit on the family council," Mr Burragubba says. "They've never consented to having the mine. They've rejected the land use agreement. It is the family council that I take my instructions from."


A letter from Mr Burragubba to Fred Hochberg, the chairman of the US Export Import Bank, states: "We have not given our consent to the Adani Group or to the state of Queensland for the development of the Carmichael coal mine on our ancestral lands, due to its permanent and devastating impacts on our land, water, culture and heritage. Nor will we ever give our consent."


Mr Burragubba led a demonstration of about eight people in the Brisbane city centre. He gave papers to the Adani Mining's Brisbane office notifying the company of the appeal and judicial review filed in the Federal Court.


Mr Burragubba explained his people’s fight to save their country on a nationally syndicated Aboriginal radio programme, ‘Let’s Talk’, distributed by the Brisbane based station, “98.9”.


The Wangan and Jagalingou people are calling for signatures to a petition.


A court has been told that the Carmichael coalmine plan would push climate to a dangerous state.


The mine would use a new 300km rail line to transfer up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year to an expanded port at Abbot Point, where it would be shipped to overseas markets, predominantly India .


A local environment activist group also opposes the mine. Writing on its website, the Mackay Conservation Group sees a “disaster in the making”.


If new terminals are built in Abbot Point, the largest coal port in the world with an export capacity of 250 million tonnes per annum, will be located on the edge of the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef, the group points out.


“The already huge coal port at Abbot Point north of Bowen in Queensland, and adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, could increase in size and impact by as much as five times if proposed expansion plans go ahead.


“If the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point coal port terminals goes ahead, Australia will be responsible for exporting massive amounts of greenhouse gas producing coal, and put at risk our much-loved Great Barrier Reef, and the turtles, fish, dugongs, whales, dolphins, coral and other species that depend on it.


“Such an outcome would not only risk a national ecological disaster, it could put at risk tens of thousands of jobs in the marine tourism industry in Queensland.”


A number of banks, including Citi, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, have ruled out funding the expansion of the Abbot Point port.


Germany's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, pulled funding for the Abbot Point coal terminal, saying it was because there is no consensus over how it will impact the Great Barrier Reef. Earlier 180,000 Germans signed a petition opposing the scheme.


The latest development in the legal saga comes as UNESCO's world heritage committee prepares to receive recommendations on whether the Great Barrier Reef should be given a formal in-danger listing.


Adani describes the project here. Click here for technical details about it.


In 2013 Australia was the world’s second largest coal exporter after Indonesia. Coal was its second-biggest export earner.


More on the issue


'WGAR News' is published by the Working Group for Aboriginal Rights. Subscription is free. To subscribe email wgar.news@gmail.com and include the words "subscribe WGAR News" in the message header. Subscribers can expect to receive about 5-6 emailed newsletters each week.







·       Nuclear-hit Aborigines again in radiation danger  

·       International anger swelling at plans to evict Australian Aborigines from ancestral lands

·       "Shameless, insensitive, outrageous, incredibly racist, lacking humanity, disconnected from reality"

·       French researchers: “Aboriginal communities should not be closed!”

·       By evicting the homelands, Australia has again declared war on Indigenous people

·       More Aboriginal children than ever ripped from their families

·       Upcoming international Perth conference on racist theft of Aboriginal children

·       Every 20th Aboriginal death a suicide

·       New coalition demands more justice for Indigenous Australians

·       Australian government budget leaves indigenous affairs in a “trauma zone”

·       More cuts to Aboriginal health spending

·       Aborigines expect more misery from new national budget

·       How an Australian Aboriginal family turned their sister's death into a youth suicide prevention group

·       'Systemic racism' against Aboriginal communities is savaged at the United Nations

·       Aborigines appeal to UN indigenous forum over homelands closure plans

·       White and black deceit, corruption and looting over land against autonomous Aboriginal people in South Australia

·       For the record: First People's sovereignty never ceded

·       A fair go for the First Nations: Australia needs a Treaty

·       First Nations women speak out for treaty

·       In defence of our land and our freedoms


Zeige Kommentare: ausgeklappt | moderiert

Reef still under threat despite UNESCO decision: green groups


Green groups have said there are still tremendous threats to the Great Barrier Reef, as the Queensland and federal governments celebrate dodging an "in danger" listing for the world heritage site.


UNESCO decision 'endorses' reef action


Senator moves to punish Greenpeace for its international Great Barrier Reef campaign

THE campaign over the Great Barrier Reef has erupted into all-out war between the Federal Government and Greenpeace.

Coalition Senator Matt Canavan yesterday moved for punitive action to be taken against Greenpeace over its Reef campaign in which it sought to have the World Heritage area listed by UNESCO as “in danger”. Senator Canavan has written to Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, urging him to investigate whether Greenpeace’s registration as a tax-deductible organisation can be withdrawn. 

Proposed ad in financial pressIn an extraordinary attack today, the Courier Mail (daily newspaper in Brisbane) has named GetUp amongst the "kings of deceit and lies" with "cult-like zealotry" for our efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef.1

It's part of the Murdoch press' ongoing transparent and desperate bid to convince investors to finance Adani's huge new coal expansion on the Reef coast.

On Friday the UNESCO World Heritage Committee handed down it's report card for the Reef. Althought the Reef wasn't classified as 'in-danger', it's so far from the "clean bill of health" the Courier Mail writes of. UNESCO makes clear the Reef's health is poor, and declining because of climate change, water quality and coastal development.2

Simply put, the Murdoch press is trying to hijack UNESCO's report and mislead investors to believe the Abbot Point coal terminal will be harmless for the Reef.

With the Courier Mail in all-out attack mode, there's a real threat they will convince key investors to fund Abbot Point and the devastating destruction it will cause.

We can't let them get away with it.

We've designed a huge full-page ad with UNESCO's own words to run in the financial press to set the record straight. Can you chip in to run the ad as soon as possible?

The Courier Mail and Enviornment Minister Greg Hunt seem to be conveniently forgetting that the report names "climate change, poor water quality and impacts from coastal development" as major threats to our Reef.

Climate change. Water quality. Coastal development. Doesn't sound like much of a reason to dredge in Reef waters so hundreds of ships can load coal from a huge port on the Reef coast to make way for Australia's biggest coal mine, does it?

But if the Murdoch press and Minister Hunt get their way, key investors could believe that all is well with the Reef, taking the Abbot Point disaster one step closer to devastating our Reef and climate.

We know Minister Hunt is desperate to control this message. That's why he spent over $100,000 travelling to 15 countries to plead with UNESCO delegates not to list the Reef as 'in-danger'.

But we can fight back against the Government and Murdoch's spin by using our combined power to run a powerful message targeting key investors.

Click here to see the design and chip-in so we can run this ad in Australia's financial press: https://www.getup.org.au/unesco

Together we've fought so hard to protect the Reef from Abbot Point and Adani. We've funded legal challenges, exposed Adani's track record, we've challenged three Environment Ministers and we've changed the course of a State Election. Now, we're up against an angry Murdoch press.

Let's do this.

Sam R and Adam - for the GetUp team

[1] Editorial: The green movement's role in the sorry Reef debacle exposes them as frauds, Courier Mail, May 31st 2015
[2] Great Barrier Reef kept off UNESCO 'danger' list for now, Reuters, May 29th 2015  

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now!

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Authorised by Sam Mclean, Level 14, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

WanganFalse media reports in The Australian and Financial Review – Our Response    by Wangan Jagalingou

Many people have a lot to say about the efforts of my people to defend ourselves against the massive destruction of Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mega-mine on our traditional lands in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – the biggest coal mine in Australian history, which enjoys the vocal support of the Queensland and Federal Governments. But often our voice is minimised in media coverage of environment groups and philanthropists willing to pitch in and provide support for our struggle.

There have been allegations that some conservation groups have offered us “cash for comment” to oppose the mine and paid us to continue a campaign. This is insulting as it implies we can be bought and sold. Adani offered us millions to consent to the ruination of our future. We stood firm on principle and told them to take their dollars and go home. We will not accept ‘shut up money’ so the mine can go ahead.

Most importantly, this is our fight. We are an independent group of Traditional Owners who determine our interests, actions and goals. For us, this means self-determination without dependency on mining. We have autonomously and for our own reasons determined to campaign against Carmichael, and to use all appropriate means to stop it.

The stakes are huge for my people. If Carmichael mine goes ahead it will tear the heart out of Country.

Our Country is an interconnected and living whole; a vital cultural landscape. It is central to us as a People, and to the maintenance of our identity, laws and consequent rights. The scale of the mine means it would devastate our native title, ancestral lands and waters, our totemic plants and animals, and our environmental and cultural heritage. It would pollute and drain billions of litres of groundwater, and obliterate million year old spring systems. It would wipe out threatened and endangered species.

These effects are irreversible. Our country will be “disappeared”.

Nor would the direct impacts be limited to our lands – they would have cascading effects on the neighbouring lands and waters of other Traditional Owners and other landholders in the region. And the mine would cause damage to climate, propelling dangerous global warming, which poses such great risks to all peoples.

Let me be clear about this: we have not given our consent to this mine. We have said no to Adani. Contrary to reports, my community is not split on this point. The Wangan and Jagalingou Native Title Claim Group rejected a Land Use Agreement with Adani on 4 October 2014 by a decision of an authorised Claim Group meeting. This decision is final.

We are deeply dissatisfied with the way Adani is using its huge wealth and legal power against us, while pretending to support our interests. We object in the strongest terms to their aggressive action.

We don’t underestimate the scale of the battle we are taking on to stop this mine. We are up against the entrenched interests of the multibillion-dollar coal lobby, and a huge Indian conglomerate with a record of displacement of traditional communities and environmental violations in its home country.

Both the Queensland government and Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt have enthusiastically backed this disastrous project, running roughshod over our rights and interests. Both flouted their obligations to us under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This requires our free, prior and informed consent to projects that impact us.

It is no wonder we have reached out to and established dialogue with numerous donors and supporters – big and small – amongst environment groups, amongst social justice circles, and elsewhere, to invite them to support our cause and to collaborate with us. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and our discussions are ongoing. We also have a broad base of support from the Australian community.

The Wangan and Jagalingou people will vigorously defend our interests in our land and waters, and our rights to practice and maintain culture. We will pursue all avenues at our disposal to stop the mine, including public campaigning, legal remedies, and engagement with investment banks who might be looking to fund the project. We will take our message from Australia to the world to ensure that our voice is heard, and that Adani and its supporters in government understand that when we say no, we mean no.

-Adrian Burragubba, traditional owner, and authorised spokesperson of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council