When thousands of school children took to the streets to protest against the Adani coal mine and the government’s inaction on climate change, they were met by patronising condescension from the Prime Minister who said he does “not support our schools being turned into parliaments” and that he wants “more learning and less activism in schools.”
The Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, went further tweeting:
“It is sad that all of those young people protesting today don’t seem to care for the rights of indigenous Australians. The W&J peoples voted 294 to 1 in favour of Adani mine. The views of the traditional owners should prevail!”
Well kids, sit up straight and pay attention as we do some learning.
The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people hold the Native Title to the area where Adani wants to build the Carmichael coal mine. The title applicants represent 12 families.
After Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) was rejected by them in 2012 and again in 2014, in 2016 Adani paid money to seven of the representatives to bring as many people as they could to a meeting to vote in favour of the mine. Many of these people were paid to attend even though some of them had no idea what they were voting on. Both the legitimacy of the people voting and the count were challenged.
This was the 294 to 1 vote that Canavan refers to. One family representative, Craig Dallen, has since withdrawn his support for the mine, alleging Adani paid him and others to recruit mine supporters, including Indigenous people outside the W&J with no link to the mine site. That makes the vote 6 for and 6 against.
In August this year, a Federal Court decision upheld Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the W&J people, paving the way for the State Government to cancel all native title over the mine site and hand freehold to Adani, a decision the W&J people are appealing in the High Court.
Adani then filed an application to have the legal challenge thrown out unless W&J mine opponents deposited $161,000 into the court by cash or Australian bank guarantee within a fortnight, to secure potential legal costs if it wins.
The lawyers said Adani’s opponents had to date ignored its demands for payment of $637,000 with costs orders now totalling $870,000 from previous Supreme and Federal Court proceedings.
The judge ruled that Adani’s demand for $160,000 was “disproportionate and unpersuasive”. Instead, the W&J opponents have to put forward $50,000 by the end of January. The representatives fighting this challenge have no money or property.
“The threat of high cost orders is meant to stop us standing up to protect our human rights and our country. We have received threats of massive economic damages and bankruptcy,” said W&J Traditional Owner and lead council spokesperson Adrian Burragubba.
And it gets worse.
On December 21st, it was reported that “A traditional owner employed by Adani has been referred to Australia’s corporate watchdog for investigation over the collapse of a million-dollar trust fund set up to hold mining income for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people.”
Irene Simpson, who took a job with Adani after negotiating the contentious land access deal for its Queensland mine, was the controlling director of the trustee company, Cato Galilee.
According to Mr Burragubba, “Cato Galilee was controlled by several members of the W&J Applicant who received unauthorised financial benefits. Adani, along with the Qld Coordinator General, worked with these people to undermine our traditional authority and decision making.
“Cato Galilee directors betrayed us and went into private, unauthorised discussions with Adani after the W&J claim group voted ‘no’ for the second time in October 2014.
“In 2015, under the direction of Ms Irene Simpson, and fellow director at the time, Mr Patrick Malone, Cato Galilee entered into an unauthorised Memorandum of Understanding with Adani on behalf of W&J.
“This occurred after the claim group had rejected the Adani ILUA, and the authorised Family Representative Group instructed the applicants to oppose the deal. The MoU was subsequently rejected by our people at an authorisation meeting in that year” he said.
Ms Simpson, is employed by Adani as an Indigenous engagement officer. Mr Malone heads a Western Kangalou company, while working with Adani on W&J’s cultural heritage.
On December 13th, Matt Canavan hit Twitter again.
“Great to see first Australians already benefiting from Adani. Today Woongal – a W&J certified business – was awarded the contract for surveying services at the Carmichael site. In 2016 the W&J traditional owners voted 294 to 1 in favour of the mine. Time to get on with it!”
It just so happens that Patrick Malone’s son, Mr Jonathan Malone, has majority interests in the pop-up company, Woongal Environmental Services which has been given a contract to monitor environmental outcomes on Wangan and Jagalingou country.
But it’s all a front according to the other Native Title holders who oppose the mine.
“We have condemned Adani’s recent announcement that Woongal Environmental Services is a ‘W&J certified business’. This ‘certification’ is false. This contract is not with the W&J people and its supposed benefits are typically meagre. Adani are taking ‘green washing’ and ‘black cladding’ to a new level.
“Companies like Cato Galilee and Woongal Services are being used as fronts. They undermine the foundations of our society and proper governance”, Mr Burragubba said.
This is not an isolated incident, as Matt Canavan must know.
In May, it was revealed that a north Queensland Indigenous organisation kept secret more than $2m in payments by the Adani mining company. 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’s Abbott Point port expansion.
A letter from the AFP stated “It is … alleged that Kyburra chairperson Angelina Akee, and (others) are diverting Kyburra funds for their personal gain. It is suspected that the remaining directors are complicit in these activities and may also be deriving personal benefits”.
Matt Canavan’s twitter feed is a wealth of information – not from him but from the people who respond exposing his lies.
Another interesting piece of information to emerge from late June this year…
Glencore has focused efforts to sell its Rolleston coal mine in central Queensland on Winfield Energy Group; a new entity set up by ex-Peabody executives Rob Hammond and John Canavan.
Based on a price for thermal coal at $US75 a tonne, the new owner could expect $567.5 million EBITDA in 2018 and, perhaps more relevantly, $160 million mining pre-tax cash flows
Rolleston has also received government approval to extend its mine life to beyond 2040.
Way to go bro.
There endeth today’s lesson on greed and corruption. And lies?