The Palaszczuk Labor government quietly extinguished native title rights on 1,385 hectares of land around the planned site of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in late August. The traditional owners of the land are the Wangan and Jagalingou people, who have been waging a determined campaign against the mine and the Labor government, which is supporting it.
The Palaszczuk government granted final approval to the mine in June, after which the Federal Court upheld a land use agreement covering the area. The Wangan and Jagalingou people, led by Adrian Burragubba, had sought to invalidate the agreement, arguing it did not meet the legal requirements of the Native Title Act. The court dismissed their arguments and ordered them to pay the mining company’s costs, which amounted to $600,000.
Traditional owners and supporters have set up camp on the land in order to protest the government’s action. In a statement, they vowed to maintain their protest and “stay on our homelands, despite Adani demanding that police remove our people from a ceremonial camp established last weekend at the site. We will be there to care for our lands and waters, hold ceremonies, and uphold the ancient, abiding law of the land. The Queensland government and Adani, working hand in hand, are criminalising our cultural laws and practice. We have been made ‘trespassers’ on our own Country”.
The resistance of the Wangan and Jagalingou people is an inspiration. The bipartisan support the mine has received from all levels of government shows that politicians can’t be relied on to protect the rights of Indigenous people or the environment. A serious fight is needed against Adani, Labor and the profit-driven system of capitalism which has brought us to this point.