The Queensland government has extinguished native title over 1,385 hectares of Wangan and Jagalingou country for the proposed Adani coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin - without any public announcement of the decision.
The decision could see Wangan and Jagalingou protesters forcibly removed by police from their traditional lands, including lands used for ceremonies.
W&J Council leader Adrian Burragubba, and a group of Wangan and Jagalingou representatives, had been calling on the government to rule out transferring their land, arguing they had never given their consent for Adani to occupy their country.
In a meeting with government officials, seeking a halt on leases being issued for mine infrastructure, they learned the state government had instead granted Adani exclusive possession freehold title over large swathes of their lands, including the area currently occupied for ceremonial purposes.
At the same time a report finds that Adani mine would be 'unviable' without $4.4bn in subsidies, which upsets the indigenous population.
“We have been made trespassers on our own country,” Burragubba said. “Our ceremonial grounds, in place for a time of mourning for our lands as Adani begins its destructive processes, are now controlled by billionaire miner Adani.
“With insider knowledge that the deal was already done, Adani had engaged Queensland police and threatened us with trespass.”
To mine any land under a native title claim, a miner needs an Indigenous land use agreement, essentially a contract that allows the state to extinguish native title. Adani has a ILUA over the land: five of the 12 native claimants have opposed it, but have lost successive legal challenges in court to prevent it.
Burragubba and a group of supporters set up camp on the land ahead of its legal transfer to Adani. He said they will refuse to leave.
“We will never consent to these decisions and will maintain our defence of country,” he said. “We will be on our homelands to care for our lands and waters, hold ceremonies and uphold the ancient, abiding law of the land.”