First Nations Native Title Appeal

Adrian Burragubba and members of the Wangan & Jagalingou people (W&J), the Traditional Owners of the land in Queensland’s Galilee Basin have been fighting to protect their land from the Adani Carmichael mine. When they applied to the Federal Court to challenge the process used by Adani to obtain consent from the Traditional Owners for approval, the case almost didn’t make it. As the deadline drew tight Grata was able to step in and provide the money needed for them to have their day in court.

Adrian Burragubba speaking at a rally

Sadly in July 2019, the Full Federal Court dismissed the application from the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council to have the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) invalidated. 

The Court dismissed the application on the basis that once the ILUA was registered it was valid according to the legal requirements of the Native Title Act. The Court did not consider the extremely contested process Adani used to obtain the ILUA or the question of free, prior and informed consent from all Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners.

One judge, Justice Melissa Perry, said that the decision was  “notwithstanding any deficiencies which might have tainted the validity of the certification”. This means that the fact the Court decided to dismiss the appeal doesn’t mean the process Adani followed for gaining Traditional Owner consent for the ILUA was just or fair. That’s what the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council have said all along.

Adrian Burragubba, said, “we don’t intend to give up”. The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council are now looking at other legal remedies. For them, the fight will go on.  

While the decision is disappointing, Grata Fund is proud to have supported Adrian Burragubba and the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council to access the Court. 

The case almost didn’t make it to court because of an order for the five appellants to pay $50,000 into court within a matter of weeks or drop the appeal. Too much for the community to cover alone, with your help, Grata Fund was able to step in and cover the costs. 

For so many communities, justice is simply unattainable because of the impossible costs of access to courts, even in public interest cases like Adrian’s. 

Without the generous support of Grata Fund supporters, Adrian and the members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council would not have had their day in court. 

Together we will continue to support First Nations communities to advance their human rights through the courts.