Indigenous man Patrick Malone, critical of the involvement of the green lobby in a native title claim relating to the Adani coal project, in Canberra.
Indigenous man Patrick Malone, critical of the involvement of the green lobby in a native title claim relating to the Adani coal project, in Canberra. Ray Strange

Activists 'hijacked' Adani debate

GREEN activists have been accused of hijacking the debate around the Adani megamine and wanting the traditional owners to lose all opportunity.

The traditional owners backing the Adani mine say the choice is to either support the mine or continue to have lives dogged by generational disadvantage.

Traditional owner and signatory to the Adani agreement, Patrick Malone, said there was only a small group led by Adrian Burragubba who opposed the project compared with the 294 to one vote in favour of accepting the Adani deal.

"Green activists are happy to maintain the status quo for the Wangan and Jagalingou people of low socio-economic outcomes while they enjoy jobs, education, housing etc and I guess electricity generated by coal fired power stations. They want to stop the mine at all costs and unfortunately that cost will be born greatest by the W & J people,'' Mr Malone said.

The latest move by the group known as the W & J Family Council led by Mr Burragubba and members of his family, has been to file an injunction to try to prevent the State Government from moving to extinguish native title, a move the Government has previously said it would not do. "We did not go out and invite the mining industry onto our lands, but our lands are mineral rich and the miners have arrived,'' Mr Malone said.

"There are no Federal or State programs targeting W & J people ... which will deliver anything near what Adani and the other seven existing and proposed mines on our country have the potential to deliver.

"Without the employment and economic opportunities that will flow from these mines our people are destined to be passive recipients of ongoing generational disadvantage rather with participants in the education, employment and business development contributing to the future for their families.''

Mr Burragubba's group believes the Adani deal, known as an indigenous Land Use Agreement, or ILUA, is substandard and the project will destroy cultural heritage and the environment. "Of course we would always like more,'' Mr Malone said.

"W & J lands ... have been under attack since the arrival of white settlers. The ILUAs with the mining companies are the first time we have been given an opportunity to be partners in the ongoing management of our country.''

The ILUA and the indigenous Participation Plan (IPP) provide long term direct and indirect benefits for W & J people not available currently through any other source. They will provide education support, employment and business opportunities which will contribute significantly to intergenerational sustainable economic development for our people.''

JOHN MCCARTHY



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