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A message to Australia’s children – might Matt Canavan be lying?

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 One family representative, Craig Dallen, has since withdrawn his support for the mine, alleging Adani paid him and others to recruit mine supporters, including Indigenous people outside the W&J with no link to the mine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?

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  1. David Evans

    That Couldn’t Happen In Australia,.Could It?

    Yet another well researched, accurate article from Kaye Lee.

  2. Pilot

    Hopefully the lying, mongrel bred, hotch-potch or bigotry, racism and lies, currently masquerading as a government will be thrown out before May.

    Their actions have been atrocious over the life of their time in power.

    Oh for an ICAC with teeth and retrospective powers. This will be a boon for the prison industry……

    We can only hope that the due NSW State Election kicks the living crap out of the Libs followed by the Feds.

    Personally, I’ve had enough of their lies, innuendo, poor bashing and factless gibber.

    Hope everyone had a safe and Merry Christmas. Wishing all the best for 2019

    BTW, what happened to the login?

  3. Kaye Lee


    I can’t answer questions about login. We had some issues recently where some of us, including me, got locked out. Michael spent some stressful days fixing it.

  4. pierre wilkinson

    Is there anyone in this rabble of a go0vernment that does not serially lie, obfuscate or simply avoid answers?
    I know ProMo loves the donald, but does that entail adopting the practice of never telling the truth and has that passed on to all government members?
    Thank you again for your well researched, informative articles and I look forward to your critical appraisal of our new incoming government hopefully in March, 2019.

  5. Andreas Bimba

    If our politicians and governments were agents for the people then we wouldn’t have to witness these abuses. Australia is a banana republic where the wealthy believe they own the nation’s natural resources and that they can do as they please. Not only have indiginous land owners been illegally dispossesed, the existential threat of global warming has been ignored and the nation’s natural resources will again in the main be stolen.

    Political harlots for hire like Matt Canavan should not hold public office.

  6. Pilot

    Ah well, not to worry, lol.
    Maybe next time.

    Thanks Kaye Lee.

    May as well bang in some more rich bashing while I’m here.
    We’ve got crooks in the banking system, thieves in the mining industry, BOTH in government, what the hell has happened? We were used to the “little white lie” or extended truth for our pollies, par for the course. But this current mob have done the Howard era liars proud. They have eclipsed the old master liar Howard and reset the bar below ground level. Howard set it at snake’s belly low, but this mob, well, they dug the hole and hopefully we can kick them in and bury them once and for all.

    Cheers people 😉
    🇦🇺 🍺🍺

  7. Michael Taylor

    Pilot, you don’t have to worry about logging in anymore. Just comment as normal. Logging in is now just for the authors and admin.

  8. Shaun Newman

    At least the tories (L’NP) are consistent, consistently anti-people and pro corporations a third of who pay no income tax on their billion dollar incomes. One has to wonder whether or not that will change if a Labor government is elected at the coming election?

    As far as I understood the trade-off of having these mostly foreign corporations operating to fleece the Australian public of their hard-earned funds was that they would pay income tax. With a third of them paying nothing because of tax breaks and a myriad of taxable deductions not enjoyed by working people it seems wrong to me on a multitude of levels.

    This L’NP government will not take any notice of children’s legitimate concerns, and more than they take notice of voters concerns about Climate Change which are exacerbated by the burning of coal to produce electricity. We can all see this clearly, but not the religious fanatics who occupy some of this governments front bench. The backbenchers must be getting nervous.

  9. totaram

    Kaye Lee: You deserve accolades for all the energy and patience you put into your research.

    I know it won’t make any immediate difference, but we too should be playing the long game: can we distribute this article to all the school children who took part in the march? They won’t be voting for many years to come, but perhaps they will influence their grandparents/uncles/others. And a decade down the track, there will be less votes for the coalition or whatever it has morphed into by then.

  10. New England Cocky

    The machinations reported here reek strongly like the Australian water holdings saga in NSW under the Eddie Obeid ALP government. W&J Traditional Owner and lead council spokesperson Adrian Burragubba has been posting for some time on another reputable website about this matter and deserves our support.

    Then an ordinary person on a Bondi bus could be reasonably assume that, given the disendorsement of Andrew “Sugar Baby” Broad by the Notional$ for actions less than the betrayal of National$ “family values” by Auntie Gina’s favourite Adulterer-in Chief and practising Alcoholic Barnyard Joke, then personal pecuniary interests are considered more important that national interests.

    It’s time ….. to dispatch these self-serving Liarbral Notional$ politicians and misgovernment to the wpb of Australian political history.

  11. DIANE larsen

    Great read Kaye

  12. BradKB

    I’ve often had the feeling in the past 10 years that the country is being run/controlled by people with the same ethics, the same motivations and probably a similar intellect to that of a drug pedalling, bag snatching, coward punching, boys only, street gang, only worse!

  13. Miriam English

    Thanks Kaye, for the history behind all that. I’d just like to note that the Wangan and Jagalingou people have managed to raise the $50,000 after an appeal to supporters around Australia (I am one who donated). Here’s hoping the W&J people can succeed in killing off Adani’s Carmichael mine where we couldn’t.

  14. Kronomex

    Corruption is like a bag of chips, once you start accepting money and favours, you just can’t stop.

  15. MattersNot

    Re Shorten and Adani – some days ago paul walter provided a link that explained Labor’s caution:

    There is a bigger risk for a future government which might choose to cancel the licence. Adani could sue the Australian government for millions of dollars through the process known as Investor-State Disputes Settlement (ISDS), using the now terminated Australia-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.

    The article in question also pointed out that when we win – we can also lose. Remember the Phillip Morris case that Australia won:

    It took over four years for the tribunal to decide that Philip Morris was not a Hong Kong company. It took an FOI case to reveal that it cost the government $38m of taxpayer dollars in legal fees to defend the case.

    Perhaps Shorten’s being prudent with Government money?

  16. Kaye Lee

    Adani, along with Canavan, are lying about there being an ILUA in place. It is still subject to appeal. They have also not done their water research about the natural springs or an environmental plan for the black-throated finch (?)

    Native title, water usage, and endangered species leave them a long way short of approval and if they have been bribing people to get that approval, along with breaching current environmental conditions……I would love them to try an ISDS. There is SO much evidence of their lies and their corruption and their dereliction. A decent barrister would chew them up and spit them out,

  17. Matters Not


    A decent barrister would chew them up and spit them out,

    Possibly so – but the ISDS process is not like a Court of Law with rules of evidence (what’s admissible and what’s not) and all that. That’s why the opposition to same is so vehement and so well-foundered. And there’s no appeal to boot.

    For Shorten, there’s also an important political dimension with several Federal seats containing coal mining operations. Seem to me that Shorten is not a political risk taker so why kill any projects that will die a natural death anyway?

  18. Kaye Lee

    I also believe that to be Labor’s approach MN…..there is no need, or for that matter ability, to say they will cancel the project. But the native title case will hold them up as will the water approval. I understand all the stuff about sovereign risk and ISDS but when you can PROVE that the company has bribed people and ignored/contravened/broken restrictions…..go for the throat IMO. After the election will do.

  19. DrakeN

    Great work as always, Kaye.
    Thank you.

  20. Kaye Lee

    October 11, 2018

    The Queensland Government has quietly approved Adani’s plans to expand the capacity of the Abbot Point coal export terminal on the Great Barrier Reef coast from 50 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 60 mtpa.

    Documents made public today by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) show the expansion was approved by the Queensland Coordinator General on 2 October 2018.

    Abbot Point is currently running at 50 per cent capacity. Conservationists fear Adani is banking on its Carmichael mine getting off the ground to make an expanded port viable.

  21. Aortic

    And Chris Kenny in the UnAustralian writes to say we cannot afford a future Prime Minister subject to the dictates of the left. I assume he then is thrilled to witness the present rabble which has been subject to the dictates of the right ( read Abbott, Andrews et al) since its inception. I think Bill Shorten is surely pragmatic enough to ensure all voices are heard and policies devised to reflect this. Can’t come soon enough.

  22. Max F. Ekt

    Another nail in Adani’s coffin…?

    Yesterday (30.12.18) it was reported in the media that Adani had secured permission to drill bores to assess groundwater levels at and around springs within the proposed mine site. An area of over 5 hectares was cleared for that purpose. The media reports stated that a number of bores sunk did not appear to be monitoring bores, but extraction bores, which were not part of the deal.

  23. Andreas Bimba

    The Carmichael mine simply cannot proceed as originally proposed as it is enormous, it opens up the Galilee Basin coal deposits with another half dozen mega coal mines then likely to follow, the coal is low grade steaming coal which will produce even more CO2 than higher grade coals and the world already has way too much coal mining capacity that will need to be closed down well before their design lives have been reached.

    Even without carbon taxes, new electricity generation capacity using coal is now about twice the cost it is from renewable sources. New build renewable energy is even cheaper than electricity from existing coal fired plants that have long ago paid off their capital construction costs.

    The Carmichael coal mine will squander capital and provide negligible revenue to the Queensland and federal governments.

    Large capital intensive export industries actually result in net job losses across the nation through currency appreciation which makes other more labour intensive exports like agriculture and manufacturing less competitive, tourism for foreign visitors less affordable and imports become cheaper again displacing local industries and employment.

    To avoid catastrophic climate change, going beyond the point of no return and even a runaway greenhouse effect the earth’s atmosphere cannot be permitted to go beyond a fixed and rapidly approaching CO2 concentration. The most credible scientific evidence is that we must rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions now and capture a substantial portion of the existing atmospheric CO2 using reforestation and improved agricultural practices on a truly massive scale. Currently CO2 concentrations are just over 400ppm and still rising at an INCREASING rate but we need to get this back down to 350ppm. The slower our greenhouse gas emission reductions, the higher the ultimate economic cost, the greater the environmental damage and the greater the risk of failure and even extinction.

    No new coal mines, coal mine expansions, oil field expansions, tar sand or oil shale extraction, fracking, new natural gas extraction or fossil fuel exploration can be permitted.

    A steadily rising fee must be applied to fossil fuels preferably with a full refund to citizens – a carbon fee and dividend. If fossil fuels remain cheap they will never be phased out in time. Emission trading schemes are very vulnerable to corruption and are great for business consultants and investment bankers but terrible for industry, consumers and the planet.

    Carbon Fee and Dividend Policy and FAQs

    We all know the LNP are moving us in the opposite direction to what is needed but the ALP also in general fail to appreciate the urgency and gravity of our predicament.

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