Melbourne: Indian mining giant Adani’s $ 21.7 billion coal mine project in Australia on Wednesday faced a fresh legal hurdle after traditional owners of Queensland’s Galilee Basin challenged the leases granted to the controversy-hit project.
Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) representative group said it has filed an interlocutory application in the Federal Court of Australia challenging the leases. The application would argue that the mining leases, announced by Queensland state’s mines minister Anthony Lynham this month, were not properly issued. “The Queensland government issued the mine leases in the absence of the consent of the W&J people to Carmichael mine, and in the face of their three-time rejection of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani,” a statement said.
The W&J representative group also released a letter dated 15th October last year, in which Lynham said he would consider the lease applications after all legislative requirements were satisfactorily explored.
W&J spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said, “We have formally rejected this disastrous project three times. In this light, Lynham’s issuing of the mining leases is a shameful episode in the trashing of Traditional Owners’ rights by the exercise of government power. In a letter to our legal counsel on October 2015, and again this year, Lynham said that he intended to await the outcome of our Federal Court Judicial Review before issuing any leases. His letter was clearly not worth the paper it was written on, and is now a demonstrable show of his bad faith and the betrayal of us by the Government.”
Burragubba said, “Lynham’s decision is also reckless politics. As he himself indicated publicly, issuing the mining leases prior to the determination of our legal challenge to Carmichael puts the leases at risk. The Minister’s treatment of us, and his failure to allow legal due process to play out, calls into question his integrity and the exercise of his powers. In filing this action on Wednesday, we are making good on our pledge to oppose this mine every step of the way. We will continue to pursue all legal avenues, Australian and international, and test the limits of the law in this country,” he said.
The W&J representative also announced that they have filed a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on the systemic discrimination in the administration of Native Title system in Australia. “These actions show we are standing strong,” Burragubba said.
Adani’s plan to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Australia has been hampered time and again.
A federal court in August last year had revoked the original approval due to environmental concerns.
In October last year, the project got a new lease of life after the Australian government gave its re-approval.