The Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners have blocked the Carmichael coal mine project by Adani Australia in Queensland. They have named their movement ‘Standing Our Ground’ because they intend to stand their ground to defend their rights as First Nations people.
The Wangan and Jagalingou people are one of the many indigenous communities whose ancestors lived in Australia before British colonization. On Standing Our Ground, they wrote that they are “the original sovereign people of a vast area of unceded land in the Galilee Basin in central-western Queensland”.
BREAKING: We are serving Adani with an eviction notice for illegally trespassing on Wangan and Jagalingou land and demanding they cease all mining and extractive activities on our Country. They’ve got to stop work, and get out.Adani’s operations seek to destroy our Country, and decimate our heritage. This is unlawful and will be resisted. Soon they'll start draining the water table and digging their mine. That's going to drain the life out of our country and kill our dreaming. Adani have given us no choice but to intervene to protect our land, water and culture.We intend to stand our ground to defend our rights as First Nations people. We have not ceded sovereignty. Our inalienable rights to this land cannot be signed away. We will continue to fight to have Adani removed from our land. To protect its water and to fight for the future generations #StandingOurGround #EvictAdani
Posted by Wangan and Jagalingou – Standing Our Ground on Wednesday, August 19, 2020
According to an Australian common law doctrine known as ‘Native title’, Australian law recognizes that Indigenous Australians have rights and interests to their land that derive from their traditional laws and customs.
However, last year, the Queensland government extinguished native title over 1,385 hectares of Wangan and Jagalingou country, granting Adani freehold title. This was done without consulting traditional owners of the land and was opposed by many from the community.
In order to stifle the opposition, Adani engaged a private investigator and equipped security guards with body cameras to film a verbal confrontation that led to a Supreme court order which exposed two traditional owners to possible jail time if they returned to a ceremonial camp on Adani’s mine site.
Thus ‘Stand Our Ground’ said that Adani has already destroyed their culture and their country, and soon they will start draining the water table and digging their mine. They wrote, “That’s going to drain the life out of our country and kill our dreaming”.
On August 20, they announced that they are serving Adani with an eviction notice for illegally trespassing on Wangan and Jagalingou land and demanding that Adani cease all mining and extractive activities in their Country.
At present, they have re-established tribal control of their lands in central Queensland, and have blocked workers from reaching the mine construction site. They said that they will restrict Adani Australia and contractors’ free movement within Wangan and Jagalingou lands, but these restrictions will not apply to the general public or local farming families.
According to a report on The Guardian, this incident highlights issues in the law that gives traditional owners few rights to block development. According to the native title system, First Nations people can only obtain royalties or compensation for their land if they sign a land-use agreement with the proponent. If an agreement is not reached, the native title tribunal then makes a decision and rarely rejects mining leases.
The Wangan and Jagalingou people have refused to acknowledge what they have called the Queensland government’s “illegal land grab” and “sham Adani agreements” created without the free, prior, and informed consent of the community. They have demanded that Adani Australia abandon the Carmichael mine project immediately.