Smoking ceremony. Photos: Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council
In recognition of their unique gathering, traditional owners held a ceremony at the Doongmabulla Springs, as well as several sites of historical significance. Photos: courtesy of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council

The Adani Carmichael Coal Mine:  A Special Five-Part Series

The controversial proposed Adani Carmichael coalmine commands diverse media headlines, but the untold story is about Indigenous rights and, in particular, the resistance of Wangan and Jagalingou people to the expropriation of their lands.

In a special series of five articles, running over coming days, New Matilda will document the systemic way in which colonialism continues in a contemporary form, disguised by notions of Indigenous land use agreement. What is revealed is a relentless ‘land grab’ – a taking of Wangan and Jagalingou Country without consent, and designed to enable the Adani Carmichael mine to proceed.

This special series will draw from research conducted by researchers from the GCI's flagship project, in collaboration with Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.

17 April 2019

Traditional owners still stand in Adani’s wayAdani‚Äôs proposed mine remains highly contested and uncertain.

Last week, federal environment minister Melissa Price approved Adani’s groundwater management plan for its proposed Carmichael mine.

However, Adani’s proposed mine remains highly contested and uncertain. A number of environmental plans are still waiting state approval, and 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 case is due to be heard by the full bench of the Federal Court in May.

Read more/ ...

9 July 2018

Long-term aims of Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund under scrutiny

In a piece by Paul Sharp for The Guardian on Friday, 6 July reference is given to UQ academics John Quiggin, Kristen Lyons and Morgan Brigg for warning that Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loans could be “driven by short-term political imperatives”.

29 May 2018

High noon in the Galilee: Wangan and Jagalingou law and order. An article by Adrian Burrabugga.

This article is a prologue to "The Coal Truth: The Fight to Stop Adani, Defeat the Big Polluters and Reclaim Our Democracy" by David Ritter, published June 2018.

Adrian Burragubba, and along with other Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners, have sustained opposition against Adani's proposed Carmichael mine on their country over many years. This article tells the story of this struggle, and the sacred connection to country that is under threat from this proposed mine. Adrian describes the Aboriginal law that guides connection to country; and which is at the heart of W&J as first nations people in saying no to this destructive mine.

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30 Jan 2018

Killing Country (Part 5): Native Title Colonialism, Racism And Mining For Manufactured Consent

In the final of a five-part series on the battle by the Wangan and Jagalingou people of Central Queensland to halt the construction of the Carmichael coal mine by Indian mining giant Adani, Dr Morgan Brigg explains the problems with a native title system that continues to dispossess and disempower Australia’s First Peoples.

Wangan and Jagalingou people are the traditional owners of a vast swathe of Central-Western Queensland that is critical for the proposed Adani Carmichael mine, including a 2,750-hectare area over which native title rights must be extinguished for Adani to convert the land to freehold tenure for the infrastructure for mine operations.

The Wangan and Jagalingou are native title applicants with a prima facie claim to their lands, but the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council (W&J) are not following the establishment script of playing along with mining interests. Instead, they are vehemently resisting the proposed Adani Carmichael mine, including through native title law.

Learn more here

15 Jan 2018

The Numbers Don’t Stack Up: W&J’s Rights on the Chopping Block for Adani’s ‘Non Viable’ Project

In the fourth in a five-part series on the proposed Adani Carmichael coal mine, John Quiggin looks at the numbers for the project, and like virtually all other parts of the planned project, they don’t survive closer examination. John Quiggin explains:

"In what was lauded as a landmark moment for the Adani Group, in June 2017, its chairman Gautam Adani announced his board had given final investment approval for the $5.3 billion first stage of its Carmichael mine project in the Galilee Basin, as well as approval for the associated rail line project, to be constructed from the Basin to the Abbot Point coal terminal."

Read more here.

15 Nov 2017

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council Return to Country (July 2017)

In July 2017, members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council (W&J) held a major ‘Gathering on Country.’

The GCI Flagship research team (Lyons and Brigg) were able to join this historic event, and were able to document some of the key issues and themes that emerged during this event. These include the transformative experiences as a result of the trip to Country, the meanings inscribes in ancestral homeland, opposition to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, and the important role of the Council.

You can read this report here.  229 KB (PDF)

15 Nov 2017

Environment and Planning Law Association Annual Conference

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) are a key partner in our research project with the GCI. We work closely with Benedict Coyne, President ALHR, whose work meets at the intersection of law, Indigenous Rights and climate change. Benedict recently delivered the keynote address at the 2017 Environment and Planning Law Association Annual Conference. The title of his paper 'Re-greening rights – indigeneity, climate change and a timely re-confluence of human rights and the environment' draws upon some of the themes of our flagship project.

You can read a transcript of the keynote address here. 647 KB (PDF)

16 Oct 2017

Exploring Relationship to Country, Meanings of Homelands, and Resolve to Oppose Adani’s Proposed Carmichael Mine

In July 2017, the members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council (W&J), including elders and youth, held a major gathering on country.

More than 35 W&J traditional owners were joined by the GCI Flagship project research team and a small film crew.

People gathered at Clermont on Wangan Country in central Queensland. This landmark event, focusing on cultural revitalisation, was likely the first gathering of representatives of all the families together on country since the forced, and often violent removal that occurred in central Queensland from around the mid-to-late 1800s. This was a powerful and immediate expression of their claim to the traditional lands and waters of their ancestors and to the ongoing presence of their society.

As part of the visit, W&J traditional owners held a two-day council meeting in Clermont, and laid a plaque in the town to mark the continued connection to country held by the traditional owners. The people also held ceremony at the sacred Doongmabulla Springs, as well as several sites of historical significance.

Wangan and Jagalingou Country is under immediate and direct threat of destruction from Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine. At the invitation of the traditional owners, and as part of the GCI collaboration, Morgan Brigg and Kristen Lyons were engaged in research to document the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners relationship to their country and the meanings inscribed in their ancestral homelands.

The research was also focused on gaining understandings of the ways in which the proposed Carmichael mine has already affected the lives for the W&J people, as well as why they remain strong in their resolve to oppose the mine.

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council members shared their visions for the future – for their self-governed and self-determined council, their families, and for their country.  

The GCI Flagship project is documenting the impacts of coal mining and the struggle of the W&J Traditional Owners Council, including how the W&J’s legal and political strategies challenge the native title regime and relate to international Indigenous and human rights policies and the transition to a low carbon energy future.

28 July 2017

Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into the governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)

On 28 July 2017, The Flagship Project leaders provided a submission to the Senate Committee related to the public interest assessment of the governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

Given the current proposal for NAIF to provide $900 million in funding for railway infrastructure related to the proposed Adani mine, this Senate Inquiry -- and the activities of the NAIF more broadly -- are of direct relevance to this project.

You can read our submission to the inquiry here. 176 Kb (PDF)

4 July 2017

The Economic (non)viability of the Adani Galilee Basin Project

As the Adani mine proposal becomes a central issue in Australian politics, UQ's Professor John Quiggin looks in detail at the economic (non)viability of the mine, which has driven the company’s appeals for subsidies and government support.

Prof. Quiggin also suggests three reasons the unviable project is still being pursued by its supporters.

20 June 2017

The GCI-funded flagship project: ‘We Are The People From That Land: Centring Indigenous peoples’ rights in the transition to a sustainable, low carbon future’ has progressed strongly during the first six months of 2017.

The project has set out to explore the international Indigenous movement that is re-imagining human rights and social and economic development in the global era of scarce water resources, climate change and energy transition.

A new report, compiled by senior researchers from The University of Queensland, raises issues crucial to the important and timely debate about native title and the rights of Indigenous peoples in Australia and around the world.

The report entitled 'Unfinished Business: Adani, the State and the Indigenous Rights Struggle of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council', was launched at the UQ Global Change Institute on Monday, 13 June 2017. 

A copy of the report can be downloaded here 3.7 MB (PDF).

Additional media coverage:

26 Oct 2016

Australia’s coal politics are undermining democratic and Indigenous rights

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