Senators to decide Adani
Future of Carmichael mega-mine in the Galilee gets more clouded.
Wednesday 22 February 2017
The Queensland Resources Council has confirmed this week that the hard fought Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for the Carmichael mine in the Galilee will be void if current changes to legislation aren't passed through the Senate.
After years of negotiation and expense, Adani finalised its ILUA for the Carmichael project in early 2016, when 294 Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people voted in support of it, with just one rejecting it.
“The W&J people have voted overwhelmingly at a properly convened, independently chaired meeting in accordance with established statutory process to deliver intergenerational opportunities to their communities and their children, and grandchildren,” Adani said at the time.
However, a historic decision by the full bench of the Federal Court a fortnight ago regarding a mining project in Western Australia found that a single member of a claimant group could stop an ILUA from being registered.
Or in other words, the court established a precedent ruling that any ILUA without 100% support could be invalid.
In the case of Adani, the one dissenting voice for the ILUA at Carmichael mine has been from traditional owner Adrian Burragubba, one of the 12 native title applicants in the W&J group.
In 2016 Mr Burragubba unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the ILUA meeting calling it a “sham” with an “engineered” outcome.
Mr Burragubba has been advised in the past by long-time environmental campaigner and lobbyist Anthony Esposito.
QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane released a statement this week saying they congratulated the Turnbull government's amendments to the Native Title Act to remove the 100% support rule, and hoped that Senate politics would not derail them.
“These measures are urgently needed to ensure the security of agreements that are currently in place, and those struck in the future,” he said.
“And to reverse the February 1 ruling of the Federal Court in Western Australia which would have left current ILUAs void.
“I call on all politicians to raise up above politics and to push the amendments through the Senate, otherwise, if the Bill does not pass, it has the potential to affect hundreds of mining leases in Queensland and cost thousands of jobs.”
In the best case scenario, Senate passing the amendments will simply mean one of the significant uncertainties surrounding the Adani project is removed (for the second time).
However, Adani still needs to resolve some court cases, get important local and state government approvals, and of course make a final economic decision as to whether to go through with the mine.
In the worst case scenario, if the Senate does not adopt the changes, Adani faces possibly years of further ILUA negotiations at a time when the company is at wits end about the seeming endless approvals process.