"Miners and other rich developers will have even better tools to divide and conquer us"

Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson

Friends, when we last wrote, there was an extraordinary political manoeuvre unfolding. It was a cynical ploy. George Brandis had introduced an ‘urgent’ amendment to the Native Title Act, to help Adani secure their sham land use agreement, and wind back the rights of Traditional Owners around the country. We responded quickly. And we needed to. With your support, we made the most of the limited but precious time available to lobby senior politicians in Canberra, and get their attention on the real threats posed by the amendment bill.


Since then we’ve made detailed submissions and we appeared at a Senate hearing this week.

Right now a Senate committee is writing a report that will determine what happens next. And that’s all hanging on the Federal Labor and Greens Senators.

Their report could help make or break the Government’s ‘Adani Amendments’ to the Native Title Act.

By Monday, we’ll know where they land. They’ll either stand up for our rights, or line up with the Government to disenfranchise us and do the bidding of the Minerals and Resources Councils.

The Turnbull Government moved to amend the Act as if there was a state of emergency, but without any evidence of a real problem or justification for the rush. The Bill appears to be rammed through to meet the calls of the mining lobby, and in particular Adani and its backers from the Queensland Resources Council.

There is no crisis. But the minds of the Liberal and National Parties are made up. They already passed the bill and are seeking to rush it through the Senate next week.

Labor, Green and Xenophon party Senators and leaders can still make the difference.

We made it clear when we met Senators and Members of Parliament in Canberra a couple of weeks ago that the consequences of this bill will be profound, affecting not just us, but Aboriginal people around the country and our future generations.

It should not be rushed so the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments can appease miners like Adani that our rights won’t get in the way of their disastrous projects.

We said in our submission last week that the integrity of our decision making, and our rights to self-determination and to withhold our consent to the destruction of our country and heritage, are at stake.

We told the Senate Inquiry on Monday that the changes are designed to disenfranchise us; and that a two-week consultation period - with only one hearing in Brisbane for the whole country - is ridiculously inadequate to expose the real intent and failures of the bill, and to set about genuine Native Title Act reform.

We will need your support to call on Senators and party leaders to put the brakes on this move by the miners and their Government backers - and instead improve our rights in Australian law.

We have experienced first hand in our dealings with Adani how the Native Title Act can allow reprehensible tactics by proponents. If this bill passes, it will ensure miners and other rich developers will have even better tools to divide and conquer us. Unbelievably, things will become even more stacked against us.

As soon as we know the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry, and whether Labor will line up with the Government and wind back our rights - and their own commitment to land rights - we will let you know. And together we can take action.

Right now, you can let the leaders of the non-Government Parties know that you support the W&J Traditional Owners Council submission to the Senate Inquiry, and encourage them to do the right thing.

Can you please send Bill Shorten, Richard di Natale and Nick Xenophon an urgent email asking them not to capitulate to Brandis and the mining lobby?




And make sure you Cc info@wanganjagalingou.com.au too, so we can see how many responses are coming through.

Let them know you are watching closely, and that the bill should not be passed in its present form. Tell them more must be done to ensure the integrity of Aboriginal decision making and the rights of Traditional Owners with respect to their Country, over the interests of miners and developers.

You can find more news and information from our facebook posts and our web site.

Thank you again for your support. For our people, our country and the planet, we will maintain the fight.


Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson

for the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council


P.S. It always helps - donate when you can to our Defence of Country fund. We’re in the fight of our lives.

P.P.S. Submissions to the Inquiry and other information about the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee are here.

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Letter to Mr Gautam Adani, Chair, Adani Group Adani House, NR Mithakhali SIX Roads, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009, India


16 March 2017

Dear Mr Adani,

We are writing to respectfully ask you to abandon the Adani Group’s proposal to dig the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

We would like to put to you three reasons why this mine should never go ahead.


One, the Carmichael mine would be the biggest coal mine ever dug in Australia. Once its coal is burnt, it will contribute more climate-changing pollution to the atmosphere than the entire country of New Zealand does every year. Last year record-breaking ocean temperatures triggered a devastating coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef – a natural wonder that visitors from every nation love. Sadly, another bleaching event is currently underway for an unprecedented second consecutive year. Pollution from burning coal is the single biggest driver of global warming, threatening life in Australia, India and all over the world.


Two, coal is a killer. Coal is the biggest single cause of air pollution in Australia. Air pollution kills an estimated 3 million people globally each year. Coal burning is a key contributor. Black lung disease has re-emerged in Queensland, afflicting 19 coal mine workers. Last month The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals, published a report that described your company’s Carmichael mine proposal as a "public health disaster".


Three, this mine proposal does not have wide public support in Australia and does not have the support of the Traditional Owners of the land where the mine would be dug. There are concerns about the impact the mine will have on groundwater resources and on nearby farmers who rely on this water for their livelihoods. Increasingly, Australians are deeply worried about how climate change is affecting our country through worse heatwaves, bushfires and reef bleaching. Australians know coal is driving global warming. And they definitely don’t want the publicly funded Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to finance a railway line to service the Carmichael mine. A recent poll showed 75% of Australians would prefer the funding went towards renewable energy, not infrastructure for coal companies. 

True, the Queensland and federal governments are bending over backwards to fast-track this mine. True, they have changed water laws, stripped farmers of appeal rights, are attempting to change native title laws and have earmarked $1 billion of public money to build the rail line.


But we urge you to think about global warming and public health and listen to the wishes of the people.


It would be a great shame if this one project were to damage the image of India in Australia.


We understand the Adani Group has not made a final investment decision on the Carmichael coal mine. We strongly urge you to decide to abandon this project.


We the undersigned – and we believe all Australians – would support and welcome moves by your company to invest further in renewable energy in Australia.




Geoffrey Cousins, AM, Business and community leader


Dr Lindsay Simpson, Great Barrier Reef tourism operator


Bruce Currie, Queensland farmer


Imogen Zethoven, AO, Australian Marine Conservation Society


Ian Chappell, Former Captain of the Australian Cricket Team


Greg Chappell, Former Captain of the Australian Cricket Team


Bob Brown, Former Australian Senator


Christine Milne, Former Australian Senator


Tim Winton, Award winning author


David Williamson, AO, Playwright and screenwriter


Kristin Williamson, Author and journalist


Richard Flanagan, Award winning author


John Mullen, Business leader


Simon McKeon, 2011 Australian of the Year


Indira Naidoo, Author and TV presenter


Ian Dunlop, Former Chair, Australian Coal Association


John Thwaites, Former Deputy Premier Victoria


Ken Peters Dodd, Birriah Widi Traditional Owner


Midnight Oil, Australian rock band


Peter Garrett, A.M., Musician, environmentalist and former politician


Rob Hirst, Musician


Naomi Klein, Author


Ben Elton, Comedian and author


Aunty Carol Prior, Juru Traditional Owner


Mark Burrows, Investment banker


David Paradice, Paradice Investment Management Pty Ltd


Professor Tim Flannery, Councillor Climate Council and 2007 Australian of the Year


Geraldine Brooks, A.O., Pulitzer prize winning author


Missy Higgins, Australian singer, songwriter


Helen Garner, Writer


Renata Kaldor, A.O., Business and community leader


Robyn Nevin, A.M., Actress and Former CEO, Queensland Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company


Michael Dillon, A.M., Cinematographer and documentary maker


Robin de Crespigny, Author and filmmaker


Mark Joiner, Business leader


Robert Purves, A.M., Purves Environmental Fund


John Butler, Musician


Dr Anne Poelina Nyikina, Traditional Custodian


David Fisher, Producer, The Science Show ABCRN


Professor Carmen Lawrence, President, Conservation Council of Western Australia


Distinguished Professor Terry Hughes, FAA, Reef scientist


Keith Tuffley, CEO, The B Team


Dr Nigel Westlake, Composer


Edmund Capon, Former Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales


Bernard Fanning, Musician


Darleen Bungey, Writer


Professor Robert Costanza, Chair of Public Policy, Australian National University


Professor Fiona Stanley, AC, FAA, FASSA, Distinguished Research Professor University of Western Australia, Vice-Chancellor's Fellow University of Melbourne, 2003 Australian of the Year


Garry Shead, Artist


Virginia Duigan, Author and screenwriter


Sally Morrison, Biographer and fiction writer


Janet Laurence, Artist


Ben Quilty Artist, activist, Trustee of Art Gallery of New South Wales and Honorary Doctorate Western Sydney University


Andrew Davies, Publisher and musician


Anne Manne, Writer


Peter Kingston, Artist


Richard Walsh, Publisher and social commentator


Lea Ferris, Caring citizen


Ash Grunwald, Musician


Tim Hollo, Musician and CEO, Green Music Australia


Graeme Wood, Entrepreneur, philanthropist and environmentalist


Aunty Beryl Carmichael, Nyampa Elder and author


Arnold Zable, Author, novelist and human rights advocate


Professor Lesley Hughes, Councillor Climate Council


Andrew Stock, Councillor Climate Council


Professor David Karoly, IPCC, Lead Author


Bill McKibben, Author and Co-founder, 350.org


May Boeve, Co-founder and Executive Director, 350.org


Koreti Tiurnalu, Pacific Coordinator, 350.org


Blair Palese, CEO, 350.org Australia


Dr Jonathan King, O.A. A.A., Best-selling, award-winning author and historian


Ben Oquist, Executive Director, The Australia Institute


Joanna Weston, Australian athlete and environmentalist


Sheila Nguyen, Executive Director, Sports Environmental Alliance (SEA)


Mike Sheahan, Australian journalist, #SEA Ambassador


Jeff McMullen, Journalist, author and film maker


Ross Tzannes, AM, Lawyer and community leader


Toby Barber, Renewable Energy Engineer


David Ritter, CEO, Greenpeace Australia Pacific


Kirsty Albion, Director, Australian Youth Climate Coalition


Amanda McKenzie, CEO, Climate Council


Kelly O'Shanassy, CEO, Australian Conservation Foundation


Paul Oosting, National Director, Getup!


Archie Law, Executive Director, ActionAid Australia


Claire O'Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens


Cam Walker, Campaign Coordinator, Friends of the Earth


Kate Smolski, CEO, Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales


Craig Wilkins, Chief Executive, Conservation Council of South Australia


Shar Molloy, Director, Environment Centre Northern Territory


Mark Wakeham, CEO, Environment Victoria


Darren Kindleysides, Director, Australian Marine Conservation Society

By the Australian Marine Conservation Society


Fri 17 March 2017 - Three quarters of Australians polled want the Queensland Premier and Mayors, now on a trade mission to India, to pursue Adani investment in solar not coal.

  • New poll shows three quarters of people believe Qld Premier & Regional Mayors, in India today, should pursue solar not coal. See below.
  • Meeting between Adani HQ Senior Management and community delegation of Geoff Cousins AO, Qld farmer, tourism operator and reef campaigner.
  • With the hotly contested Third Test between India and Australia underway, former Cricket Captain Ian Chappell says renewable energy is the future.

AHMEDABAD, INDIA. Imogen Zethoven AO, Great Barrier Reef campaigner for the Australian Marine Conservation Society which commissioned the new poll said, “It’s clear from this new poll that Australians want our political leaders to pursue investment in clean energy, not dirty coal.


“Our glorious Great Barrier Reef, famous around the world, is once again dying in a devastating mass bleaching event, caused by global warming.


“Large scale solar, not the new Adani coal mine, is the solution to the climate crisis hitting nations around the globe."


Businessman Geoff Cousins AM said, “Our community delegation met with senior management at Adani Headquarters who received our open letter from prominent Australians.


“It was a productive meeting. We explained the growing opposition to the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland and agreed to a continued dialogue with the company. We reiterated that we welcome Adani’s investment in solar in Australia but are steadfast in our opposition to their coal mine.”


Cricket legend Ian Chappell, who signed the eminent persons’ open letter delivered by the delegation said, “I have great memories of playing cricket in India and the warm reception our Australian team received. But we don’t need Adani’s coal mine in Australia. Bring on renewable energy – that’s the best future for everyone.”

Other delegates visiting Adani HQ with Mr Cousins included reef tourism operator Dr Lindsay Simpson, and Queensland farmer Bruce Currie.



The Queensland Premier and regional Mayors are currently on a trade mission to India.  Do you think they should be seeking investment in clean energy solutions like new solar power stations, or in coal mines?


More than 7 out of 10 (72.1%) people polled wanted to see the Premier and regional Mayors pursue investment in solar, compared to just 14.6% who preferred coal.


Poll explained here, PDF here.


For more information:

Peter Stahel Essential Media 0408 584 439.

IMAGES of press conference after letter presentation available for download - Video and Stills

FULL BIOGRAPHIES and headshots of Australian Delegation here.



The delegation of Australian citizens is in India to demonstrate to Adani and the Indian community that the Australian people are strongly opposed to the Carmichael coal project. The group is sending the message that Australians would welcome Adani’s investment in solar in Australia but remain vehemently opposed to the Adani coal project which will damage groundwater, the climate and the much loved Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.


The open letter has been signed by over 90 eminent Australians including senior business leaders, sporting legends, Australians of the Year, authors, musicians, scientists, economists, artists and community leaders. Signatories include Ian and Greg Chappell, Missy Higgins, Tim Winton, Peter Garrett AM and businessmen Mark Burrows, John Mullen and Mark Joiner.



Adani is attempting to develop the Carmichael coal project in the untapped Galilee Basin in Central Queensland, Australia. The project involves a 60 million tonne per annum coal mine, a 388km long rail line and the construction of a new coal export terminal at the Abbot Point coal port.


The project has been dogged by controversy from the outset amidst concerns by traditional Aboriginal landowners and environmentalists over the groundwater impacts of the project, and the climate change impacts of burning coal from the mine. In addition the impacts of the project on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area have made it a highly controversial project, with over two million people actively expressing opposition to it and thirteen global banks ruling out providing funding.



Australians head to Ahmedabad, ask Adani to shelve project

In “The Hindu 16 March 2017


‘No coal. Go solar,’ says petition by citizens, including cricket legends Ian and Greg Chappell

"An Australian group of green activists delivered an “open letter” to the office of Gautam Adani here to tell him: “We want solar, but not your coal mine,” referring to the A$16.5-billion Carmichael coal project to be developed there by the Indian billionaire."

Ian and Greg Chappell call on Adani to abandon Carmichael mine project

In “The Guardian 16 March 2017: 'Former Australian test captains say opposition to mine in Australia could affect sporting ties with India, in letter directly appealing to Adani boss'

"The Chappells, well-known through their sporting exploits in India where the Australian team is currently playing, joined 90 prominent Australians in the letter, which will be delivered to Adani’s head office on Thursday."