Machinery has arrived at Adani's Labona Camp in central Queensland to begin construction on the Carmichael megamine.
Machinery has arrived at Adani's Labona Camp in central Queensland to begin construction on the Carmichael megamine. Cameron Laird

Traditional owners take their argument to Canberra

TRADITIONAL owners of the area around Adani's Carmichael coal mine addressed parliamentarians in Canberra yesterday, calling on them to not be distracted by activists with little or no understanding of the project.

Federal Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, said the opportunities and the will of the Wangan and Jagalingou people must be respected.

"Those actively campaigning against the Carmichael mine are doing more than creating some noise, they are actively working to undermine the job prospects of indigenous Central Queenslanders."

Ms Landry said a campaign of insincerity culminated in a misguided United Nation's committee writing a letter suggesting Australia scratch the Carmichael mine because traditional owners hadn't been consulted.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," Ms Landry said.

"We know that the W&J voted in favour of the ILUA with Adani, 294 votes to 1.

"With Aboriginal unemployment in Rockhampton sitting at 25 per cent and in Woorabinda at 75 per cent, projects with real Aboriginal engagement are so valuable.

"Adani's ILUA with the W&J people will see $250 million in contracts for indigenous organisations to tender for.

"When teamed with the 7.5 per cent indigenous employment guarantee, which also applies to the workforces of contractors, that means a great deal for the future for W&J people."

Last week, native title applicant Les Tilley said the W&J people wanted the Adani mine to go ahead and it was about time their voices were heard.

After years of silence, he said, the traditional owners felt disrespected and concerned by interference from the United Nations without any attempt to consult them.

Mr Tilley, on behalf of the applicants, wrote to the chairman of the UN committee, expressing deep concern that Australia was asked to consider suspending the mine and rail project until there was consent from all indigenous people.

"We were dismayed to read that you have written to the Australian Government on a matter of great importance to the W&J People without affording (us) the courtesy of a meeting or any formal communications," the letter read.

"We object to your requested suspension of the Adani Carmichael Project and are insulted by your clear disrespect for the decision made by the overwhelming majority of the W&J People claim group."

Mr Tilley said that while the applicants recognised Adrian Burragubba and his Family Council do not agree with the Carmichael Project proceeding, the majority do and they had finally spoken out because they were tired of Mr Burragubba being seen as the voice of the W&J People.

"He is only one voice. He does not represent the majority as can easily be seen in Federal Court decisions," he said.

"We followed due process under the Native Title Act.

"Wangan/Jagalingou people have spoken; ILUA vote count 294-1."

Multiple court cases have upheld the original decision.

Mr Tilley described Mr Burragubba as a "puppet" of anti-Adani campaigners who were taking advantage of him.

"All we do is cop abuse for it if we speak up ... that's the way it's always been with Adrian Burragubba.

"He wants to be the voice and in the limelight and anyone who tries to speak up gets shut down.

"He was never voted in to be a spokesperson or to take on any of these court actions. It's a breakaway faction."

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