Anti-Adani mine campaigners Adrian Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson.
Anti-Adani mine campaigners Adrian Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson. Nikki Todd

Native title applicants remain divided over Adani

WANGAN and Jagalingou Family Council's Adrian Burragubba was among the voices to come out in defiance of Adani's recent environmental approval, but consensus between native title applicants remains unresolved.

W&J Family Council said Thursday's decision by the Queensland Government to approve Adani's groundwater dependent ecosystem management plan "imperilled" their sacred Doongmabulla Springs.

Mr Burragubba, who has been entangled in court cases with Adani, said draining the water for the Carmichael would "irreparably damage the ecology of our homelands".

"Without the water, everything will struggle to survive," he said.

Mr Burragubba believed the W&J people were "coerced" into land use agreements.

"We are the original sovereign people from that land, and there is no founding agreement with the State, or mining corporations like Adani, that allows them to determine the future of our country without us," he said.

However, the W&J community have been divided over the proposed mine with 12 native title applicants having differing opinions on the mine.

 

Native title applicant Les Tilley
Native title applicant Les Tilley Jake Jones

One of the 12 applicants, Les Tilley wrote to the United Nations earlier this year in defence of the Carmichael mine project after the UN had reportedly asked the Australian government to consider suspending the mine, pending a consensus of Indigenous approval for the project.

He argued that despite the rhetoric from vocal W&J representative Mr Burragubba, the "majority" of W&J people supported the mine.

"We, the W&J People are a broad group of people, with formal rights as the registered Native Title applicants for this area," Mr Tilley said in his letter.

"While we recognise Mr Adrian Burragubba and his Family Council do not agree with the Carmichael Project proceeding, the majority of us do."

 

Erica Walker
Erica Walker Jann Houley

In January, elder and spokesperson of the Pitjara and Jagalingu people Erica Walker told The Morning Bulletin she had the documentation supporting her claim of having the strongest claim on the land covering the Carmichael site.

At the time she said, providing strict environmental guidelines were adhered to, the opening of the Galilee to mining had her support.

"Everyone can benefit (from the mining), all of Queensland, provided it's done properly, that they abide by the conservation policies that they've been given," she said.

 

Woongal Environmental Services' traditional owners field operators are now monitoring the water ecosystems at the Carmichael mine
Woongal Environmental Services' traditional owners field operators are now monitoring the water ecosystems at the Carmichael mine

In February, a team consisting of ten W&J people under Woongal Environmental Services was tasked to monitor water quality, aquatic and terrestrial ecology, the waxy palm cabbage and weeds or pests on the Carmichael site.

It is understood some of the information gathered by the group was included in the GDEMP approved last week.

The approval of Adani's Groundwater plan signified the last environmental hurdle for the miner before construction of the Carmichael could begin.



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