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Federal Court Decides On Certification Of Adani Indigenous Land Use Agreement

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Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council spokesman Adrian Burragubba (right) addresses a senate inquiry in Brisbane, Monday, March 13, 2017. The inquiry is examining legislative changes which could affect Adani’s proposed Queensland coal mine in the Galilee Basin. Attribution required: AAP Image/Dan Peled

UPDATE | An appeal by traditional owners opposed to the Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland has been dismissed in the Federal Court.  

The Indigenous land usage agreement could permanently extinguish native title on the site within the Galilee Basin.  

Opponents showed up to the Federal Court on Friday hoping to overturn a decision handed down in 2018 that found an ILUA between Adani and the Wangan and Jagalingou people was valid.

Spokesperson for the W&J Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, earlier said the "pending decision in Kemppi v Adani Mining Pty Ltd will hinge only on the question of whether the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA were administered according to the legal requirements of the Native Title Act".  

On Friday, that appeal was rejected.  

The Conversation reports the Queensland Government will not extinguish native title over land Adani needs while outstanding Traditional Owners’ court action is unresolved.

EARLIER | The Federal Court is due to decide on the certification of Adani's Indigenous Land Use Agreement on Friday.  

The Conversation reports the Queensland Government will not extinguish native title over land Adani needs while outstanding Traditional Owners’ court action is unresolved.

Members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council (W&J Council) are contesting the validity of Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA).

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners oppose the Adani Carmichael mine development on their lands.

The Full Court has listed the above matter Kemppi v Adani Mining Pty Ltd for judgment at 9.30AM.  The decision will be announced via videolink in Brisbane and Sydney.  

Adrian Burragubba and Wangan and Jagalingou community members represented by the W&J Council have been challenging the Adani mine for four years through the courts and were almost prevented from having their current appeal heard because of the huge financial barriers to people seeking to hold corporations accountable in Australian courts according to Grata Fund.  

“The story of the Wangan and Jagalingou community and Adani is part of a broader story in Australia, where many First Nations communities are prevented from accessing their rights because of the huge expense involved in bringing important public interest cases to court, and the massive imbalance in financial means between these communities and the corporations they are seeking to hold accountable under the bright lights of court,” said Isabelle Reinecke, Founder and Executive Director of the Grata Fund.

Upon application for hearing the appeal in the Full Federal Court, Justice Robertson said he believed Mr Burragubba and his co-plaintiffs do have a case to be heard.

Grata Fund reports that despite this, Adani asked the court for a guillotine order forcing Adrian and his co-plaintiffs to provide $160,000 as surety before the case was heard. Justice Roberts reduced this and ordered the five appellents pay $50,000 into court within a matter of weeks or drop the appeal.

Still too much for the community to cover alone, Grata Fund was able to step in and provide the $50,000 required within hours of the deadline.

Senior spokesperson and cultural leader of the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, Mr Adrian Burragubba, is expected to address the decision during NAIDOC events in Brisbane on Friday.  He will address the assembly at Musgrave Park, South Brisbane at around 11:30AM.  

Mr Burrauggba will talk about the decision of the court and the ongoing struggle of the W&J Council to expose the lack of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) for the Carmichael Coal Mine, irrespective of the outcome of the case.

Speaking from Townsville, spokesperson for the W&J Council, Ms Murrawah Johnson, said the "pending decision in Kemppi v Adani Mining Pty Ltd will hinge only on the question of whether the certification and registration of the Adani ILUA were administered according to the legal requirements of the Native Title Act".  

“It will not ‘pull back the veil’ on the corrupted process leading up to and after the authorisation meeting. Nor will it confirm whether in fact the people in attendance at the Adani meeting were entitled under the laws and customs of Wangan and Jagalingou people to make that decision to sign away W&J rights in land for monetary compensation” she said.  

By Michelle Price