Showing posts with label Federal Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Federal Court. Show all posts

Friday, 22 May 2020

North Coast Voices received a takedown notice on 19 May 2020


On 24 April 2018 North Coast Voices published a blog post title "Hank Jorgen and Centrelink unleash the dogs…..".

On 19 May 2020 the blog received a Google takedown notice for that particular post, effective immediately.

Now apart from its title, the post only contained one sentence of comment by North Coast Voices:

"Forget establishing that an actual debt exists – this is 2018 and come hell or high water the Turnbull Government wants to use Centrelink to prop up its financial bottom line in time for the May 2018 budget papers."

The remainder of the post comprised of extracts from two online mainstream media articles - one by journalist Alice Workman published by Buzzfeed and the other by journalist Noel Towell published by the Canberra Times. These extracts were followed by inclusion of five tweets politely critical of 'robodebt' and two links to NotMyDebt.

Both media articles are still online.

So what sin had North Coast Voices committed?

Well apparently it had used a BuzzFeed extract which mentioned a business called Detective Desk - an IT company whose services were used by at least one debt collection agency (Australian Receivables Ltd) whom Services Australia had contracted until 3 February 2021 to assist with debt management/recovery under the automated data matching Online Compliance Intervention System process aka robodebt.

One can deduce this because the 2017 Buzzfeed article now has a new headline and is prefaced by a grovelling apology which runs thus:

CORRECTION

An earlier version of this article, which was entitled 'Your private information is being sent overseas by Centrelink', included some statements about Detective Desk which were corrected and are retracted by BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed regrets these errors.

One has to wonder if the unknown person or persons who decided to chase up mention of this company and remove any part of the original Buzzfeed article from view after all these years was doing so because a class action is now underway in the Federal Court of Australia which may expose the full lengths that Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison, first as Minister for Social Services, then Federal Treasurer and finally as Prime Minister, went to in order to unlawfully claw back money from vulnerable welfare recipients.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Morrison Government expects to be forced to refund est. $555.6 million unlawfully taken from at least 449,500 Centrelink clients






In July 2016 the federal Coaltion Government began to issue income compliance notices based on automated data matching.

At the time the then Minister for Social Social Services Scott Morrison expected to clawback an est. $1.7 billion dollars over five years from individuals who were, or had been in the past, receiving a Centrelink pension, benefit or allowance.


By 2019 at least 570,000 of those over 600,000 income compliance notices were considered to be unlawful. As were Australian Taxation Office garnishee notices associated with these alleged debts.


Refunding these wrongfully raised debts would see at least $555.6 million returned to Centrelink clients.


Becoming a member of a class action does not expose a ‘robodebt’ recipient to any additional legal liability with regard to the alleged debt.

However, the Morrison Government is possibly hoping many victims will not realise this and sign the Centrelink Opt Out Notice – Federal Court of Australia – ‘Robodebt’(Social Security Debt Collection) Class Action (VID1252/2019) notices it is currently sending out.

Gordon Legal has outlined possible court dates:

On 6 March 2020 the Honourable Mr Justice Murphy of the Federal Court ordered that the parties hold a mediation prior to 19 June 2020. This is an opportunity for the matter to be resolved with the consent of both parties.

Justice Murphy also ordered that, if the matter does not settle at mediation, a trial will begin in the Federal Court on 20 July 2020 (or if that date is not available, on 21 September 2020).

Services Australia (formerly the Dept. of Social Services-Centrelink) despite its denials continues to raise alleged debts and send out notices.


The Guardian, 18 May 2020:

Hundreds of thousands of Australians affected by the government’s robodebt scheme will receive notices from Centrelink about an upcoming class action under orders from the federal court.

Guardian Australia last month revealed secret government advice showing the commonwealth hopes to settle the case and has privately admitted more than 400,000 welfare debts were unlawfully issued under the scandal-ridden “income compliance program”.

But the parties are yet to reach a settlement, setting up a potential trial as early as July where law firm Gordon Legal will seek interest and compensation as well as the repayment of debts unlawfully claimed by the government.

Under court orders issued in March, the government has been told to identify all potential class action members and send out notices via MyGov or by post about the upcoming court challenge by 25 May.

More than 12,000 people have registered with the firm, but under Australian law people identified as members of the “class” are considered part of the action unless they “opt-out”, which would allow them to pursue their own individual claim.

Labor’s government services spokesman, Bill Shorten, said the government should “settle this case immediately, restore public confidence in Centrelink by allowing the court to be the independent umpire, and pay the victims back their money as well as interest”.

This would allow the hundreds of Centrelink workers working on limiting the government’s robodebt exposure to be moved back to the frontlines of helping their fellow Australians with their social security needs in this time of national challenge,” he told Guardian Australia.

Since July 2015, more than 600,000 debt notices had been sent out under the scheme, which the government conceded was unlawful in federal court in November, while thousands more received letters demanding they prove they were not overpaid by Centrelink.

Some debt recipients had their tax returns seized over the debts, while others were also forced to pay a 10% “recovery fee” on top of the alleged debt.

Gordon Legal believes the case would represent one of the largest class actions in Australian history.

Late last week, the government declined to answer several written questions about the robodebt scheme, successfully applying for public interest immunity in the Senate.

Services Australia declined to answer how many debts had been issued using the unlawful “income averaging” method or whether it would repay victims, including debts recovered from deceased estates.

This question relates to a court case that is currently before the federal court of Australia,” the agency said. “Services Australia will abide by any decision of the court.”

But a ministerial submission to cabinet, leaked to the Guardian, revealed the government hopes to settle the case and that Services Australia expects to “administer 449,500 refunds determined under the programme”, worth $555.6m.

The robodebt class action notices come as the government pushes ahead with plans for an inquiry into class actions in Australia.

Porter last week claimed a “lack of regulation governing the booming litigation funding industry is leading to poor justice outcomes”.

But Labor has argued the inquiry is a response to Gordon Legal’s class action against the robodebt scheme.

If the parties do not reach a settlement, a trial is expected between July and September.

The government’s legal advice shows it expects to lose the class action under Gordon Legal’s claim of “unjust enrichment”, although it believes the compensation claim is less likely to be successful.

This is likely to result in the commonwealth being ordered to repay debts within a timeframe set by the Court, and to pay interest and legal costs,” the advice said.

Court documents show the number of potential victims expanded in March after the government withdrew an earlier claim that people receiving Carer Payment were not subjected to the scheme.

The government has conceded in court that debts that relied on income averaging were invalidly raised, but claims it should not have to pay compensation because it does not hold a common law duty of care to welfare recipients…...

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Australia finally gathers its courage and takes Facebook Inc to court over Cambridge Analytica privacy breaches


Office of the Australian Privacy Commissioner, media release, 9 March 2020:

The Australian Information Commissioner has lodged proceedings against Facebook in the Federal Court, alleging the social media platform has committed serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law. 

The Commissioner alleges that the personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed to the This is Your Digital Life app for a purpose other than the purpose for which the information was collected, in breach of the Privacy Act 1988. The information was exposed to the risk of being disclosed to Cambridge Analytica and used for political profiling purposes, and to other third parties. 

“All entities operating in Australia must be transparent and accountable in the way they handle personal information, in accordance with their obligations under Australian privacy law,” Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said. 

“We consider the design of the Facebook platform meant that users were unable to exercise reasonable choice and control about how their personal information was disclosed. 

“Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy. 

“We claim these actions left the personal data of around 311,127 Australian Facebook users exposed to be sold and used for purposes including political profiling, well outside users’ expectations.” 

The statement of claim lodged in the Federal Court today alleges that, from March 2014 to May 2015, Facebook disclosed the personal information of Australian Facebook users to This Is Your Digital Life, in breach of Australian Privacy Principle 6. Most of those users did not install the app themselves, and their personal information was disclosed via their friends’ use of the app. 

The statement of claim also alleges that Facebook did not take reasonable steps during this period to protect its users’ personal information from unauthorised disclosure, in breach of Australian Privacy Principle 11. 

Commissioner Falk considers that these were systemic failures to comply with Australian privacy laws by one of the world’s largest technology companies. 

Background 

The documents filed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) in the Federal Court are: 
  • Originating application 
The OAIC is an independent statutory agency established to promote and uphold privacy and information access rights. It has a range of regulatory responsibilities and powers under the Privacy Act 1988, Freedom of Information Act 1982 and Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010. 

The Privacy Act includes 13 legally binding Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) which apply to agencies and organisations covered by the Privacy Act (APP entities). 

APP 6 provides that ‘if an APP entity holds personal information about an individual that was collected for a particular purpose, the entity must not use or disclose the information for another purpose (the secondary purpose), unless the individual has consented to the use or disclosure’ (or another exception applies). 

APP 11 provides that ‘if an APP entity holds personal information, the entity must take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances, to protect the information from misuse, interference and loss, and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.’ 

The Commissioner may apply to the Federal Court for a civil penalty order alleging that an APP entity has engaged in serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of s 13G of the Privacy Act. 

The Federal Court can impose a civil penalty of up to $1,700,000 for each serious and/or repeated interference with privacy (as per the penalty rate applicable in 2014–15).

Sunday, 9 February 2020

State of Play in Scott Morrison's Personal War On The Poor And Vulnerable: at least 9,600 angry people are taking on the federal government over 'robodebt'


These emails are just two examples of correspondance which has seen the light of day, concerning the legality of Morrison Coalition Government's Dept. of Human Services-Centrelink income compliance program or 'robodebt', since government made admissions in Amarto v The Commonwealth and was notified of an intent by certain persons to commence a class action arguing that the Commonwealth has taken money from Centrelink recipients unjustly.











The emails indicate the federal government's knowledge that sole use of the automated data matching system to calculate a 'robobebt' was unlawful. 

However they do not indicate exactly when the federal government became aware of this fact and Minister for Government Service & Liberal MP for Fadden Stuart Robert is refusing to disclose the exact date - in large measure because at least 9,600 people have now registered to take part in a class action being undertaken by Gordon Legal.

This class action asks the Federal Court of Australia not just to rule on the legality of 'robodebt', but also to determine whether the so-called collection fees levied by Centrelink should be refunded, whether those who have repaid all or part of those amounts should be paid interest and, whether the persons affected are entitled to compensation for any distress or inconvenience caused.

Gordon Legal has said it is pursuing the class action despite the government’s backdown, given that Centrelink has not promised to return the money taken from its clients nor promised to provide compensation for inconvenience and distress.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Australian Government admits that it has acted unlawfully since July 2016 with regard to the treatment of debt under its Centrelink income compliance program


On 27 November 2019 the Federal Court of Australia ruled in Amato v The Commonwealth of Australia that the use of data matching between Centrelink and Australia Taxation Office (ATO) records was not capable of providing proof that a debt exists under the Dept of Human Services/Centrelink Income Compliance Program ('robodebt') if that data matching was the only method used to establish such a debt. Therefore the debt was invalid.

The court also ruled that it followed that the garnishee notice given to the ATO was invalid and that the necessary preconditions conditions for imposition of a 10 per cent debt recovery fee were not met.  

The Federal Court made these orders, agreed to by both parties, after the Australian Government conceded that the averaging process using ATO income data to calculate the robodebt was unlawful.

Victoria Legal Aid has posted an explainer of this robotdebt case and its implications for other people who received a debt notice from July 2016 onwards.

Faced with three court cases, including a class action, on 19 November 2019 the Morrison Government finally admitted that automated data matching was a flawed tool, after mainstream media discovered and published the details of departmental email admissions to compliance staff. 

However, the Minister for Government Services has stated that government has no intention of abandoning this data matching scheme entirely. So welfare recipients must wait on the outcome of the class action in the hope that the Morrison Government will finally end its war on the poor and vulnerable.

The question remains as to how long has the Morrison Government has known it was acting unlawfully given it has finally admitted to receiving legal advice to that effect.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Morrison Government's union busting 'Ensuring Integrity Bill' defeated in the Senate


Prime Minister Scott Morrison's pride and joy, the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019, intended to weaken and perhaps even destroy registered unions in Australia was negatived in Committee of the Whole by the Senate.

The vote was tied at 34-all, with One Nation's two senators along with Senator Jacqui Lambie voting with the Greens and Labor.

It took 147 days for political commonsense to prevail but on 28 November 2019 the Senate politely told the prime minister and his hard right cronies where to go.

Another bill Morrison is reportedly hoping to pass before the parliamentary Christmas break is the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 which removes provisions for asylum seeker detainee medical transfers to Australia from Manus Island and Nauru ('medevac').

BACKGROUND

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), media release, 26 November 2019:

In a blow to the Morrison Government’s arguments for the Ensuring Integrity Bill currently before the senate the Federal Court has ruled the union regulator, the Register Organisations Commission (ROC) investigation into the AWU was invalid. 

Justice Bromberg has ruled that the ROC did not have grounds to order an AFP raid on the offices of the AWU and has ordered the return of the documents that were seized on behalf of the regulator in their first act after being established by the Liberal Government in 2017. 

The decision comes as the Morrison Government attempts to pass the Ensuring Integrity Bill in the Senate which would give the ROC the extreme power to determine which unions are deregistered and which officials are disqualified under the dangerous and hypocritical new union-busting law. 

Under the EI Bill the ROC would have the power to begin deregistration proceedings against a union which had made a handful of paperwork mistakes over a period of 10 years. 

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil: 

“The Morrison government has been telling Senators that the ROC is an impartial body which can administer the extraordinary powers granted under EI. The Federal Court has just found it conducted an illegal raid on a union office. 

“Giving union busters more power to drag unions into courts over minor paperwork breaches, some that would only cost a company an $80 fine, Will cost members and the taxpayer millions in legal fees. This is before accounting for the cost of not being able to campaign for higher wages, better working conditions and safer workplaces. 

“To defend themselves from the ROC’s harrassment the AWU was forced to expending significant resources over two years to get justice. If the Ensuring Integrity Bill passes, all unions could face this harrassment over paperwork breaches. 

“Questions also need to be asked of the ROC who is continuing to waste tax payer’s money to challenge this finding. “This ruling gives the crossbench senators a stark example of how the Morrison government targets unions and will stop at nothing to try and bust unions. Ensuring Integrity will become another tool for union busters and should be rejected. 

“The Federal Court decision is a vindication for the AWU but also a warning for the Senate crossbench who weighing amendments which would give this discredited body even more power.”

BACKGROUND

On 20 October 2017, Mr Chris Enright, the Executive Director of the Registered Organisation Commission (ROC) and a delegate of the Commissioner decided to conduct an investigation.


Judgment in Australian Workers’ Union v Registered Organisations Commissioner (No 9) [2019] FCA 1671 was delivered on 11 October 2019. The judgment concluded that; "the decision to conduct an investigation as to whether ss 285(1), 286(1) and 287(1) of the RO Act had been contravened was affected by jurisdictional error and is invalid."

Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity) Bill 2019 was introduced by the Morrison Coaltion Government in July 2019 and was currently before the Senate for the second reading debate when the ACTU penned the aforementioned media release.

*Images of ROC document come from the published Federal Court judgment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019  is apparently scheduled for a second reading before 5 December 2019.

This bill removes provisions in Schedule 6 of the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019These provisions (commonly referred to as the medical transfer, or medevac, provisions) established a framework for the transfer of transitory persons from regional processing countries to Australia for the purpose of medical treatment or assessment. The Bill also amends the Migration Act to allow for the removal of people brought to Australia under the medical transfer provisions back to a regional processing country once they no longer need to be in Australia.

On 27 November 2019 a nonconforming petition was tabled in the Senate asking for medevac provisions to be saved. It contains 51,299 signatures.

On the same day Professor David Isaacs, Clinical Professor, Paediatrics & Child Health, Fellow, Royal Australasian College of Physicians was joined by doctors in Canberra urging senators to reject the medevac repeal bill. Professor Isaacs carried an open letter signed by 5,040 doctors urging Senator Jacqui Lambie to save medevac.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Australian mainstream media learns another lesson as to why racism is bad policy



BuzzFeed News, 13 June 2019:

Channel Seven has failed in its bid to strike out a lawsuit brought by a group of Aboriginal people who say they were defamed during a now infamous panel discussion on breakfast TV show Sunrise about adopting Indigenous children.
Yolngu woman Kathy Mununggurr and 14 others from the remote community of Yirrkala, including adults and children, are suing the TV network after they were depicted in blurred overlay footage that played during the segment in March 2018.

In the discussion, hosted by Samantha Armytage, commentator Prue Macsween said of the Stolen Generations that “we need to do it again, perhaps”, and then-radio host Ben Davis said Aboriginal kids are getting “abused” and “damaged”.

The comments made by the all-white panel provoked protests outside the Sunrise studio in Sydney's CBD.

Mununggurr and the adults suing argue they were identifiable in the footage and that by playing it during the discussion Sunrise had suggested they abused, assaulted or neglected children, were incapable of protecting their children, and were members of a dysfunctional community.

The children suing say the program defamed them by suggesting they had been raped and assaulted, and were so vulnerable to danger that they should be removed from their families.

The group is also suing for breach of confidence and breach of privacy, as well as misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.

The TV network tried to strike out all aspects of the lawsuit in a Federal Court hearing on Wednesday afternoon, but was slapped down by Justice Steven Rares, who said all the issues could and should be argued at trial…..

"This is about an Aboriginal community. They’re all very close. The neighbours know each other, they all know each other," the judge said.

"You’ve got a whole community up there, most of whom will be able to recognise each other, obviously some of whom who watch Sunrise, or whatever the show is called."…...

Rares accepted there was an argument that Davis and the radio station 4BC were being promoted during the segment, but was less convinced when it came to Macsween.

“To me she’s a nobody. I’ve never heard of her and I’ve got no idea what contribution she possibly could have made to the program,” he said.

Nonetheless Rares sided with Catanzariti and declined to strike out the claim.
Seven's attempts to strike out the remaining claims of breach of confidence, breach of privacy and unconscionable conduct were similarly rejected.

Seven was ordered to pay the costs of the hearing.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

David Leyonhjelm out of a job and on his way to court


After prematurely claiming victory before the full Legislative Council ballot count was completed, only to find himself among the losers at the recent NSW election, former federal senator David Leyonhjelm now has to face court on 29 April 2019......

ABC News, 17 April 2019:

Senator Hanson-Young is suing Mr Leyonhjelm for defamation, claiming her character had been attacked through statements that she was a misandrist and a hypocrite in television and radio interviews last year.

The former Liberal Democrat senator, who recently failed in his election bid for the NSW Upper House, has denied he defamed the Greens politician.

Today, the Federal Court heard Senator Keneally was among 10 witnesses who were expected to provide evidence to the trial.

Senators Derryn Hinch and Stirling Griff are expected to be called to give evidence, while Senator Hanson-Young and Mr Leyonhjelm will also testify.

Sue Chrysanthou, the lawyer for Senator Hanson-Young, said several senators would be expected to undergo a short cross-examination at court.

She requested the witnesses be allowed to appear via video link due to the "exorbitant" cost of flying them to Sydney.

However, Justice Richard White was reluctant to agree, and said the witnesses were available and had been given plenty of notice.

He told the court he had warned the parties that the timing was likely to coincide with an election.

Ms Chrystanthou and Mr Leyonhjelm's lawyer, Kurt Stoyle, both confirmed that attempts to find a resolution through mediation had failed.

'This is something I feel very strongly about'

Senator Hanson-Young is seeking re-election while Mr Leyonhjelm has conceded his "life as a politician is over" following the NSW state poll.

In a blog post published earlier this week, Mr Leyonhjelm was particularly critical of the Liberal Democrats, which he led for more than a decade.

"While this is not a personal tragedy for me [I was always a fairly reluctant politician], it is concerning for the Liberal Democratic Party," he wrote.

"I wish I could say the party is in good hands, but I fear that is not the case.
"The National Executive does not inspire confidence."

Friday, 2 November 2018

“In an unprecedented move, the Morrison government has questioned the Federal Court's authority to commence cases that allow sick children to be brought to Australia for emergency medical care.”



The Guardian, 26 October 2018:

The Australian government is challenging the legality of the federal court hearing applications for urgent medical transfers of refugees and asylum seekers held on Nauru.

The move comes amid a rush of transfers, and appears in contrast to claims made by Australian Border Force to those detainees that the delays are due to the Nauruan government.

Should the federal court action be successful it has the potential to void some previous orders, forcing those cases to refile in the high court.

The rate of medical transfer orders has ratcheted up as the health crisis worsens, criticism of the policy strengthens, and the Nauruans appear to have stopped attempting to block departures.

The home affairs department raised the jurisdictional challenge in a case involving a child detainee, her mother and two siblings, Fairfax Media reported.

The family have already been transferred to Australia. But lawyers for Peter Dutton’s department have continued to argue that under section 494AB of the Migration Act, the federal court cannot hear legal proceedings against the commonwealth relating to a “transitory person”. It is believed to be the first time the government has made this argument in about 50 cases relating to the transfer of people from Nauru.

On Thursday two federal court judges ordered both parties to submit their arguments in coming days for a yet-to-be scheduled expedited hearing, expected next week. The child, an 11-year-old Iranian girl, is being represented by the law firm Robinson Gill and the Human Rights Law Centre.

“This has come out of the blue, and there’s a risk it could make it much harder for desperately unwell children to get the urgent, lifesaving medical care they need,” said Daniel Webb, director of legal advocacy at the HRLC.

The challenge appears at odds with the government’s messages to detainees laying the blame for transfer delays with Nauruan authorities. Guardian Australia is aware of ABF writing or verbally suggesting to people or their lawyers that the department had approved their medical transfer but Nauru was holding up cases.

The Sydney MorningHerald, 24 October 2018:

The legal point was raised last week in the case of an 11-year-old Iranian girl held on Nauru who had not eaten in more than two weeks.

Medical experts gave evidence she was facing “imminent death” if she was not treated by paediatrics experts in an Australian intensive care ward.

However, lawyers acting for the Home Affairs Department argued that under section 494 AB of the Migration Act the court could not hear the case as it did not have jurisdiction because she was a “transitory person.”

Friday, 29 June 2018

Adani Group At Work: using backroom political deals & big money to make fools of us all



The Wangan and Jagalingou Peoples registered a Native Title application on 5 July 2004 and their interests are often presented to the media via the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council

According to ORIC Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC was originally registered on 5 July 2011 as Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation and its name changed on 6 March 2013 and, according to ASIC Juru Enterprises Limited was registered on 23 April 2012.  

On 11 July 2014 and 26 June 2015 the Juru People were granted Native Title by the Federal Court over land in north Queensland.

Then foreign multinational resources and energy corporation, the Adani Group, went to work...... 


The Wangan and Jagalingou people gathered two weeks ago at a convention centre in Carseldine north of Brisbane.

They were there to vote on a proposal to make sure those responsible for their native title claim were truly representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou people. These are the traditional owners of the land in the Galilee Basin, precisely where Indian company Adani aims to build Australia's biggest coal mine, the controversial $16 billion Carmichael project.

Twice in three years, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) had rejected Adani's advances to sign a land deal for the mine, and twice Adani had dragged them off to the Native Title Tribunal and sought approval for the state to override their opposition to the mine.

It was just after 9am on Saturday, June 20, when two charter buses turned up at the Tavernetta Function Centre in Carseldine. Adani had bussed in 150 people in a sly bid to force consideration of a new memorandum of understanding they claimed to have with W&J, despite the previous 'no vote' from W&J. It was an Adani ambush, and it must have cost a fortune: three days of food, accommodation and transport for 150 people.

"We saw the buses turn up and we were wondering what was going on," says traditional owner and W&J lead spokesman Adrian Burragubba.

"They tried to organise their own meeting after ours in order to get the people to agree to their MoU - a kind of tricked ILUA [Indigenous Land Use Agreement] when they knew they didn't have one. Right now we're in the Federal Court precisely because we refused an ILUA and they have tried to override us."

But Adani's cunning stunt backfired. They hadn't counted on their 150 voters changing their minds after impassioned speeches from the likes of Burragubba. W&J tribal elders are deeply concerned about the effect of the mine on their cultural heritage and the risks it poses to water and wildlife.

By the end of the day, Adani's reps had been asked to leave the meeting. Of the W&J's 12 "new applicants", or claim representatives, at least seven were against Adani, despite all the money flying about to skew the vote, and three were in favour. The views of the other two appear in the balance….

Its latest public missive on the subject came three days before the W&J meeting: "Adani deepens partnership with Traditional Owners."

As far as W&J are concerned nothing could be further from the mark. While Adani has signed up ILUAs with other Indigenous groups – the Juru, Birriah and Jangga Aboriginal people – whose land lies either on the rail corridors from the Galilee or on the coast at Abbot Point where the coal is to be shipped to India, there is only a draft memorandum of understanding intended for the W&J, and one which is not representative of the majority of families at that.

It is getting messy. W&J now has a claim before the Federal Court alleging Adani misled the W&J people. The Native Title Tribunal and the state of Queensland are also listed as defendants for failing to properly follow process…..

NITV, 1 April 2016:

In a stunning video, traditional owners Aunty Carol Prior and Andrew Morrell call on the Queensland government to protect their cultural heritage from the Adani Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin.

Juru country sits to the east of the proposed mine, but the existing Abbot Point coal port resides on the Juru coast. This means the proposed rail line linking the mine and Abbot Point will go right through Juru country.

Traditional owners say the rail line will block access to ancient rock art sites and ochre ground near Mount Roadback, and an expansion of Abbot Point will be built just five metres from sacred burial grounds.

They’ve created a petition calling on the Queensland government to register their cultural sites under the Queensland Cultural Heritage Act as ‘significant Aboriginal areas.’

Green Left Weekly, 16 February 2018:

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) traditional owners of the land on which Adani has approval to build its Carmichael coalmine are concerned that the Queensland government will act to extinguish their native title rights prior to a Federal Court hearing scheduled for March 12–15.

This follows the decision by the Federal Court to not extend an interim injunction, which had been in place since December 18, restraining the Queensland government from extinguishing native title under the terms of the purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA).

The W&J traditional owners have never consented to the mine going ahead. They say the group has voted four times since 2012 to reject an ILUA with Adani, most recently on 2 December.

On December 8 the Native Title Tribunal registered Adani’s ILUA documents. The validity of the purported ILUA is being challenged by W&J Traditional Owners in a Federal Court hearing scheduled for March. It will consider evidence that the meeting that is claimed to have authorised the ILUA was stacked with people who had no authority to authorise a deal and sign away W&J country.

Adrian Burragubba, Murrawah Johnson and Linda Bobongie for the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council said: “A substantial injustice may be done if we are denied an appeal and the interim injunction is lifted before the trial.

Nothing can hide the facts that Adani has worked to divide our community, overturn our decisions, buy off individuals, split our claim group and engineer a sham meeting to ‘authorise’ a sham ILUA. And the Queensland government has aided and abetted them. This deal is illegitimate and should never have gone through.

“The Queensland Labor government has the power to do something about this, and it’s time they did!

“If we cannot restrain Adani with an injunction, then the Queensland Government must hear loud and clear that our land rights and culture cannot be surrendered for Adani’s profit.

“For us, this campaign has never just been about Adani. It has always been about protecting and conserving our land and culture so we can determine our own path forward for our people. One based on strong respect for our law and culture, the health of our Country and a resilient community — and clean enterprises and jobs in the new growth industries like solar energy generation.”

In a 24 May 2018 the Federal Court of Australia ruled that the Juru People themselves had not agreed that Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC should replace Juru Enterprises Limited as the nominated body negotiating an agreement with Adani Australia Pty Ltd. At time of judgment Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC was under administration.

The Guardian, 22 June 2018:

A north Queensland Indigenous organisation kept secret more than $2m in payments by the Adani mining company, federal court documents show.

Guardian Australia has obtained court documents that show the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation did not account for payments by Adani, then paid its own directors up to $1,000 a day cash-in-hand to conduct now-invalidated cultural heritage assessments for the Indian mining company.

The federal court last month delivered a ruling that may void the assessments, which are required to protect sacred sites from development.

It ruled that another Indigenous business, Juru Enterprises Limited, was the proper “nominated body” to represent traditional owners on a land-use agreement with Adani.

The impact of the decision could be wide-ranging. Traditional owners from near Bowen say they are “hugely worried” Adani has conducted work at its Abbot Point port based on improper or conflicted advice from the cultural assessment surveys.
Juru Enterprises could now demand Adani “redesign or reconfigure” any plans or works near sacred sites.

The court case has also exposed how Adani funding was central to alleged rorts conducted by Kyburra board members. Guardian Australia has seen letters, minutes of meetings, police reports, auditors reports and sworn affidavits that detail how Kyburra kept money paid by Adani off the books and then funnelled it to directors through “fees” and “loans”.

Kyburra declared only $50,000 total income in consecutive years: 2014/2015 and 2015/16. About $2m was paid to the organisation by Adani in 2014 and 2015, including an estimated $800,000 for cultural assessments. But none of it showed up in Kyburra’s annual financial statements.

Traditional owners said in a 2016 complaint letter they were suspicious about “secret payments by Adani”.

The issue before the federal court was whether Kyburra validly appointed itself as the Juru nominated body to represent traditional owners on a land-use agreement with Adani. The Indian company filed a notice submitting to any order the court might make, except as to costs.

Adani has rejected suggestions it should have been aware of mismanagement at Kyburra and alleged rorts by directors, and there is no suggestion the payments themselves were improper. The company said it was only made aware of “financial matters” through the court proceedings.

Guardian Australia can reveal that both the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (Oric) and the Australian federal police were aware of concerns about Kyburra in 2015 and 2016….

In 2016, a lawyer representing disgruntled members of Kyburra wrote to Oric asking for an investigation into the organisation. The letter was also submitted to the court in the proceedings but not tendered at hearing.

It outlined what Oric later confirmed in an audit – that Kyburra failed to declare significant income each year from land-use agreements, including the lucrative deal with Adani. By declaring only $50,000 annual income, the organisation was exempted from having to provide audited financial statements. Money from Adani, notionally “for the benefit and use of the Juru people”, was not accounted for.

 “In our submission Kyburra actually received monies from Adani Mining Pty Ltd ... in the amount of $1,225,000. In addition ... Adani transferred $825,000 to Kyburra for cultural heritage survey activities,” the letter says.

“Further, our clients advise that the surveys are conducted by directors alone – about six directors would be present at any survey – with a daily rate of approximately $1,000 paid individually to them.

 “Our clients are suspicious of similar secret payments by Adani on behalf of Kyburra.”…..

Morrell[ traditional owner] told Guardian Australia on Monday he could not explain why Kyburra moved in 2015 to replace Juru Enterprises as the “nominated body” representing the Juru people on a land use agreement with Adani. He also questioned why Adani had simply accepted the switch.

 “I really could not tell you that one. That one really has me baffled.”

He said the court ruling meant any work carried out by Kyburra for Adani had “not been carried out under the agreements” and was voided.

“We’re happy to do the work again. Kyburra and Adani have never forwarded or allowed anyone to see any of the work being carried out, any of the reports on the work being carried out. That’s left all the Juru people wondering what was going on.

“We’ll work with them, but everything that has been done will need to be revised and reviewed and we haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet……

“We’re hugely worried. Throughout the state development area at Abbot Point alone there’s numerous places where we have burial sites, rock art, rock carvings, sacred sites. If any of those areas are being impacted they need to have that impact removed from that area.