Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Noongar People of West Australia may just have saved the southern section of The Great Barrier Reef from degradation by the foreign-owned Adani Group

In the beginning…

February 2016 statement:

We are a group of Noongar people from the South West region of Western Australia seeking funding to support our legal costs to oppose the 6 Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) settlements with the South West Land & Sea Council (SWALSC) and the State Government.

Our group was founded in December 2014 to oppose the 6 ILUA settlements and to campaign against the authorization meetings held from 31 January 2015 to 28 March 2015.

 With an estimated 35,000 Noongar people in the south west region. We believe that the ILUA settlements discriminate against our people. The Noongar people are required to surrender all land in return for small pockets of land set aside under the deal. We are required to surrender our traditional ownership and native title rights, to have the power and civil right to negotiate for any royalties forthcoming. Through this ILUA, we are also required to surrender ('relinquish') all rights to challenge against 'negligence' under 'duty of care' within civil law legal obligations, any hurt, suffering and pain from the enactment of the native title act and all other acts.

 The Noongar people and Non-Aboriginal people will have no say about land developments and the clearance of large areas of bushlands, thus preventing our say into any further destructions of 'natural resources' (food, fauna and habitat) for our native wildlife and surrounding environment within the South West lands. Additionally, to this we will have no say about corporate control via mining development entities and prevention of the devastating impact on the environment, they withhold. These are just a few of the 'unfair treatment' and blatant disregard of civil rights requirements of this ILUA settlement…..

See full text here.

High Court of Australia transcript McGlade v Registrar  Native Title Tribunal & Ors here.

The implications…..

Townsville Bulletin, 3 February 2017:

ADANI's $21 billion coal mine has been thrown into doubt by a shock Federal Court decision that threatens to void scores of native title deals across Australia.

Both the State and Federal governments were last night scrambling to secure legal advice on the implications of the decision, which has sent the nation's mining industry into meltdown.

The Bulletin has learned Attorney-General George Brandis has been poring over the judgment to determine whether urgent legislation was required to avert a crisis.

And Adani has sought assurances from the Palaszczuk Government that the decision, handed down in Perth on Thursday, will not derail its planned Galilee Basin mega mine.

In the McGlade v Registrar National Native Title Tribunal decision, the Full Federal Court ruled a native title agreement covering a vast area across the southwest of Western Australia invalid.

Industry insiders have warned the decision threatens the validity of scores of native title agreements worth billions of dollars struck between tribes and developers across Australia since 2010.

An Adani spokesman told the Bulletin the company had sought legal advice on the implications of the case on its project.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also requested urgent advice on what impact the decision will have on billions of dollars worth of development projects either completed, under way or planned.

Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham said he would seek discussions on the issue with colleagues in the Commonwealth, states and territories.

And he conceded the Federal Court decision would potentially also impact non-mining projects.

"Yesterday's Federal Court decision could be very significant nationally, and not just for the resources sector," he said.

"The government is awaiting advice from Crown Law on the implications of this decision for Queensland, and other governments are likely to be doing the same across the country."…..

The Western Australia case concerned an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) struck between members of the Noongar tribe and the WA Government.

The deal, in which the Noongar people were to receive $1.3 billion in cash, land and benefits over 12 years, took five years to establish and was hailed as the largest native title agreement in Australian history.

But the Full Court upheld a challenge by members of the Noongar claim who said that they had not signed the final agreement and that it must therefore be declared invalid.

The decision went against the ruling in 2010 case QGC Pty Ltd v Bygrave and Others, which found an ILUA could be registered if at least one of the named applicants was party to it.

Legal experts and political insiders last night said the only way to avoid mass confusion surrounding the validity of ILUAs would be to amend the federal Native Title Act.

"The mining industry, it is fair to say, is in meltdown over this,'' said one senior industry source.

"This has devastating implications — not just for mining but for any development that was subject to an indigenous land use agreement.''

A spokeswoman for Senator Brandis said the Commonwealth was carefully studying the decision…..

The Commonwealth is considering what steps may need to be taken to deal with the issues raised by the Full Court and provide certainty for all parties in the native title system."

A High Court challenge to the decision would take a minimum of 12 months to process.

Adani has already indicated that any protracted delays at this point would force it to walk away from the giant Carmichael mine project.

The project has become a lightning rod for the green movement, which has mobilised nationally to delay and obstruct it.

Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the Federal Government was seeking further advice on implications for mining and other developments.

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