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The last line of defence: Indigenous rights and Adaniís land deal

John Quiggin and colleagues write in The Conversation (19.6.17) that the proposed Carmichael coal mine requires a crucial native title agreement to build key infrastructure. But, the authors note, an Indigenous group is bringing legal action against Adani, which may create a 'fatal' roadblock to the project.

'The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council (W&J) is involved in a remarkable struggle to assert their Indigenous rights in opposition to the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine. Despite the company’s board-level decision to proceed, the mine has not cleared all legal hurdles.

'W&J’s efforts – recognised globally as a leading Indigenous rights campaign – are challenging Australia’s native title system, and the notion that compliance with industrial projects is the pathway to development for Indigenous people.

'The W&J struggle has largely focused on contesting Adani’s efforts to secure an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) – the consent of the traditional owners for the mine to proceed. The ILUA would let Adani undertake all works associated with the project, and secure a 2,750 hectare area for critical infrastructure related to mine operations, including an airstrip, workers village, and washing plant.

'While the National Native Title Tribunal authorised the Queensland Government to approve the mining leases for Adani in 2016 without the consent of the W&J, this is subject to ongoing legal challenge. Without an Ilua, there is no legal basis to build the infrastructure. In this scenario, the only option would be the compulsory acquisition of land by the state – an unprecedented move in the history of native title that would privilege mining interests above the wishes of traditional owners.'


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