Traditional owner, Lyndell Turbane launches bid to stop Adani clearing 3000 cubic metres of land

Traditional owner, Lyndell Turbane launches bid to stop Adani clearing 3000 cubic metres of land

Adani

Wirdi woman Lyndell Turbane has launched an immediate bid for the Queensland state government under Queensland’s Aboriginal Heritage Act to stop Adani from clearing and transferring 3000 cubic metres to another location as early as today. 

On Friday, Turbane, a traditional owner and registered Clermont Belyando native title applicant, made a last-minute attempt to stop Adani from disrupting a significant cultural heritage site containing the greatest number of artefacts yet discovered at Queensland’s Carmichael mine. 

Reporters from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have seen Archaeological surveys which identify the area as a “utilised stone resource” once used to gather stone for making flake tools. 

The documents claim that since 2017, hundreds of artefacts have been found within the site.

Queensland government received Turbane’s letter which raises concerns about Adani’s plan to move the material to another site with high cultural and historical significance.

“The land contains our whole cultural history … as Wangan and Jagalingou people, we do not wish to have major sites of cultural significance recklessly destroyed and poorly managed,” the letter expressed. 

“This process which is under way, and the plan to disturb this site and manage the artefacts, must be immediately reviewed, starting with an urgent stop-work order.”

A Bravus spokesperson (Adani’s Australian unit) added that the cultural heritage works at their Mining and Resources’ Carmichael Mine are managed “…according to the legally binding agreements in place between our company and the Clermont Belyando Native Title applicant group (formerly known as the Wangan and Jagalingou).” 

Turbane, who is the Director of Wangan Jagalingou Aboriginal Traditional Owners Corporation – a Paddington (QLD) based charity that aims to advance the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, said she was “deeply distressed” about Adani’s proposed clearance works and that she had not been given much information about the plans. 

“That’s our birthright … we have a right to know what’s going on,” the Wangan and Jagalingou Country resident said. “They [Adani] don’t care about our language, our dreaming, our spiritual connection to the land.”

The works were approved by Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners’ Cultural Heritage Committee after the group voted 294 to one in favour of the Carmichael project’s land-use agreement four years ago. 

Since 2016, a Federal Court case has been launched by Turbane and four other traditional owners, claiming the adjudication of whether the traditional owners who voted on the agreement had legitimate native title claims “lacked rigour”.

In 2019, their appeal was dismissed. 

Earlier this month, a group of First Nations people occupying the site of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine were told by Queensland police that under provisions of the 2019 Queensland Human Rights Act, they had the right to conduct the ceremony.

The police said they had no intention of removing the group from the area despite Adani claiming the group are “anti-fossil fuel activists” who are “trespassing under the guise of traditional activity”.

Since late August, the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners were opposing the coal mine project by conducting cultural ceremonies within the lands of Adani’s mining lease. 

Queensland police said they had previously attended the site in response to the complaint filed by Adani.

“Initially we were here [because Adani] were making a complaint against you guys being here, at this time that is not the case. Please note we are not the enforcers here. If they want to do something they’ve got their legal avenues they need to take,” an officer said.

Adrian Burragubba, a Wangan and Jagalingou Tribal Leader and Nagana Yarrbayn Senior Cultural Custodian went on ABC radio to retaliate, saying their activities on the mine site maintain their connection and responsibility to Country.

“There’s no form of protest, we’re not interfering with the mine, or the construction or development of the mine,” he said.

“We’re not posing any safety risks to anyone, we’re just going about our business. And practising our culture. I don’t know what Adani’s talking about.”

“We are connected to the land and the waters and we have a responsibility to the land and to the waters, and to maintain our spiritual and cultural identity and our livelihood and the use of those resources and water [is] a part of our cultural activity.”

It comes after a “statement of regret” was issued by the Queensland police after they removed the group earlier in the year. 

In July, the Wangan and Jagalingou Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians renewed the alarm over environmental practices by Adani Mining, releasing a statement as part of NAIDOC week to express their dismay over the Queensland Government’s poor handling of their call for urgent action to address the threat to the culturally significant Doongmabulla Springs in central north Queensland.

“We have seen the destruction that the operations of the Carmichael Coal Mining Project are already causing in our Country, and we are deeply disappointed by the Government’s inadequate response to our request for urgent action,” Senior W&J cultural custodian, Adrian Burragubba said. 

“We are calling for an immediate halt to the construction of the mine, and for full and independent scientific assessments and monitoring of the threats to our sacred Doongmabulla Springs.” 

“Damage to the environment is damage to our Country and culture and is a breach of our human rights as First Nations people. We need to know that our cultural heritage is beyond the cavalier disregard displayed by Adani and its contractors, and beyond the political interests of the Government of the day.” 

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