We Suspect Silence

What you don't say and what you don't do will define you.

A thought exercise for StopAdani coalition stooges

On December 6 I shared a thought exercise on my Facebook page and on my Twitter account. It’s something I’ve been considering for a while and an attempt to sum up the difficult tension between wanting to protect the environment and at the same time deal truthfully with the reality of the economic life of traditional owner communities.

I was prompted to post the thought exercise after reading this piece by John McCarthy in The Courier Mail/Townsville Bulletin and reading a quote from Wangan and Jagalingou man Pat Malone who is in favour of the Carmichael mine. The Pat Malone quote was shared on Twitter by the deputy editor of the Townsville Bulletin, Damian Tomlinson, a noted critic of the StopAdani coalition whose Twitter page features a photo of a bumper sticker that says “Don’t take away my coal job and I wont take away your soy latte”.

screenshot.584

Here is the thought exercise.

Imagine if we could out-bid Adani and pay the four traditional owner groups that exist within the Galilee Basin coal complex area the money they need to care for country and community.

Imagine if the green bloc bothered to consider the Juru, Birriah, and the Jannga peoples who signed ILUAs in 2014/15 under the threat of compulsory acquisition.

The responses from 2 key Aboriginal leaders interested me. I’m going to share them here and attempt to explain my feelings about their statements.

Warren Mundine replied to my thought exercise with what reads like a strawman argument insinuating that I am yet another white man who thinks that throwing money at blackfellas will solve their problems. In my defense I would say that I am trying to capture the sentiment put forward by Pat Malone that limited economic opportunities need to be grasped, especially when choices about how to respond to the heavy weight of callous state governments who employ the threat of compulsory acquisition which imposes a sense of the inevitability of mining companies coming onto country and doing damage as they always do leaving traditional owners with the difficult choice of fighting what will probably be a losing battle or going into business and becoming a stakeholder in the economic opportunities that mining companies and state government may bring.

screenshot.585

Marcia Langton’s response defies what I have learned in my research into the native title system. What I have learned is this: Things are complicated, history is complicated; The Native Title Act has been manipulated in favour of governments and mining interests leaving Indigenous people as the perennially weaker party in negotiations; The Native Title Act informs the functions of the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) in inscrutible ways; NNTT case managers employ procedures that fail to capture the appropriate data to arbitrate disputes over voting meetings for Indigenous Land Use Agreements which are rock solid corporate contracts that are often made with mining companies; NNTT case managers are unable to fully explain why the procedures they employ exist and why they function the way they do.

screenshot.586

As a final note I want to share an observation I have made about the Aboriginal people whose lives and dealings I have looked into in the last year or so.

Down to the last person, every Aboriginal person whose business I have looked into, every person in a position of leadership or influence has had the care of country and their community front and centre. I’m not bullshiting you. Every single one. No matter how much I think they are being manipulated or co-opted. No matter how much I despise their allies, they have all had the sharing of wealth and the desperate desire to begin to heal their communities at the heart of their efforts and intentions.

Advertisements

Completely Spooked or Relieved of Duty?

It seems likely that the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) has half of the organisations that form the StopAdani coalition under investigation. I can confirm that 350.org.au has been under investigation for more than a year.

I’ve have watched in dismay as the StopAdani coalition members have largely ignored 3 recent direct actions in the Galilee Basin that have stopped work on the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. These direct actions occurred on October 25, October 30, and November 15, 2017.

My first reading of the situation which was based on the observations I published in a blog post on October 25 was that StopAdani coalition members were withholding reach in order to protect their narrative by avoiding acknowledging that these direct actions were happening on the rail corridor that they never name.  Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC) indicated that the first direct action on October 25 occurred on Jannga country where Adani have successfully secured Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs). The November 15 direct action may well have occurred on Birriah country where Adani also have an ILUA.

Now I’ve come to the conclusion that the StopAdani coalition members have been spared from unpacking the rail corridor, the deals done with traditional owners, and the role of the Queensland government and the native title system in securing agreements. These are things they’ve never shown any willingness to unpack and things that would threaten their particular narrative.

The most important signifier that the StopAdani coalition members are happy to be relieved of their duty is that they haven’t pulled out all the stops to get the message out about the recent direct actions. None of the Stop Adani ambassadors have stepped in to get the message out. Where was the support from Missy Higgins, Michael Caton, Nell Schofield, Tim Winton, John Butler, and Peter Garrett? The StopAdani coalition have many avenues to empower individuals with reach into social media audiences in Australia to share news and content from FLAC direct actions.

Most disturbing to me is the apparent disinterest in the recent Galilee Basin direct actions by Fairfax, The Guardian Australia, and the ABC who seem to be leaving reportage of the direct actions to NewsCorp papers like the Townsville Bulletin and The Courier Mail. This effectively leaves the news of extremely important direct actions inside NewsCorp’s paywalled silo. I would argue that if the Guardian, Fairfax, and ABC journalists were reporting as vigorously on direct actions in the Galilee Basin as they do on other less illegal StopAdani campaign actions that Stop Adani coalition members would find it hard to avoid discussion of these direct actions.

It’s my opinion that Michael West who has done research for the Australian Conservation Foundation has definitely done his bit for the accepted narrative. He wasn’t interested in Galilee Basin direct actions when I challenged him to share content and news back in October. He tweeted this flippant response to my request that he share content and news.

“Start with the rail line to Abbot Point” though NAIF is yet to approve it? Surely not with non-taxpayers’ money.

On November 14 he published a piece called ‘Corporate lobby in clover, charities SLAPPED’. It’s a comparison of the privilege and favour that private and industry lobbyists receive over not for profit organisations. He goes into some detail about the ACNC and the attacks against various NGOs with charitable status. The below quote highlights just how little these organisations are prepared to say publicly about the threats to their existence.

A number of [Not for Profits] were contacted for this article. All spoke but most on condition of anonymity. There has been a chilling effect on advocacy; the charities are afraid to speak out.

Before she blocked me – unfairly of course – 350.org.au CEO Blair Palese and I had a brief email exchange regarding my issues with the lack of sharing content and news of direct actions. In an email dated October 30 Palese outlined what could be described as an existential threat to her organisation. Now that I’ve been – unfairly – blocked I’ve decided to share a quote from that email.

In the mean time, if we post directly, we will cease to exist as an organisation until we can challenge the ACNC’s interpretation of what promotion of illegal activity means.

I’m of the opinion that it’s crunch time. Adani have begun work on the rail line and it’s time to confront the machinery. Because I believe that stopping the means of export is the only way to stop a coal complex from being developed, I also believe that we need to stop the rail line being built by every means possible. We need to do everything we can to support direct action that stops the machinery. The StopAdani coalition members ought to consider the value of falling on their swords or allowing themselves to be martyrs for the cause. What is the value of protecting an institution, a brand, a chunk of market reach when the most important front, the one where the machinery of destruction gets stopped, is being neglected?

 

PS. Check out the digital2 page on the Frontline Action on Coal website. Digital2 are the remote support team working to get news and content from direct action out to the public. It is very clear that they are determined to get content and news to travel far and wide. They are working in very remote areas which poses enormous challenges to getting communications out. https://frontlineaction.org/digital2/

 

Withholding Reach: The Stop Adani coalition has a problem supporting direct action

Today was the first day of the battle to stop Adani building the rail line in the Galilee Basin linking the Carmichael mine to the Abbot Point port. But looking at the social media feeds of Stop Adani coalition partners 350 dot org, GetUp, the Australian Conservation Foundation, and StopAdani dot com, you wouldn’t know there was a marathon 11 hour lock-on in stifling conditions in the Galilee Basin on the rail corridor where Adani and their contractor AECOM have machinery set up for building the rail line.

The reason you wouldn’t know that today’s direct action was happening was because these key partners shared nothing about the protest. No retweeted photos from the direct action organisers Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC) though Bob Brown, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition retweeted photos shared by FLAC.  There was no sharing of stories from the Courier Mail or the Townsville Bulletin, nothing, on Facebook or Twitter, nothing.

Townsville Bulletin: http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/antiadani-protesters-chain-themselves-to-machinery/news-story/5e318b4362b8f3834048f75856687ff1?nk=edc9bc18ba7fc11278a22ebc3e1bdd60-1508902888

Courier Mail quote:

The protest is in the state development area on the Gregory Highway 35km from the Belyando Roadhouse.

At 8 pm this evening FLAC provided this announcement:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FFrontLineActionOnCoal%2Fposts%2F1385041661608720&width=500

At this time, which is about 8.30 pm October 25, 2017, Missy Higgins is trending higher than today’s direct action under the #StopAdani hashtag. Missy Higgins, it was announced about 6 hours into the lock-on, is the latest ambassador for the Stop Adani coalition. Did Missy Higgins make her first action as ambassador the exuberant celebration of the efforts of the 3 activists, 2 of which were arrested? She did not.

I’m not the only one who noticed the absence of allies with reach sharing content from today’s direct action. At about 5 hours into the direct action CounterAct coordinator Nicola Paris (@peacenicsta) tweeted:

it sure is – not much online support from people with big followings – help us boost the call! x

The Regulator Takes Over: ORIC appoints ‘special administrators’ to deal with Adani and Abbot Point native title holders

Today the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) has announced that they will be placing the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation (KMYAC) under ‘special administration’.
The ORIC media release provides a quote from the registrar:
‘Kyburra is currently facing many complex issues, and despite the passionate leadership and good work of its directors, the corporation requires external assistance’, said Mr Beven. ‘The special administrators will assist the Juru people and their native title corporation through this difficult period and then return the corporation to its members.’
That means that the Aboriginal corporation responsible for dealings with Adani over the rail corridor on which Adani are reportedly about to start digging has for a third time refused to show their books to the regulator.
ORIC has a fact sheet page explaining what happen’s during special administration. Here’s a quote from the fact sheet:

A special administration is when the Registrar appoints an independent and suitably qualified person (a special administrator) to take control and oversee the running of a corporation while, at the same time, helping it to fix its problems. These problems may be short-term financial troubles or the result of poor business practices, poor governance and/or a weak organisational structure.

The aim of a special administration is to restore the corporation to financial and organisational health and, once this is achieved, to give back control to the members.

In my August 2017 blog post titled ‘The Invisiblised Struggle of an Ally: Who will take notice of ORIC’s ‘show cause’ letter to KMYAC?’  I provide the background to the complaint made by a group of Juru people in September 2016 lead by elder Carol Prior. I’m sad to say few people took any notice of ‘show cause’ letter.
KMYAC are also currently in the middle of court proceedings to determine which Juru organisation is to receive funds from Adani over an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) on the Abbot Point port: KMYAC or Juru Enterprises? Only one article has been written about this court case which involves large sums of money may be determined in late November 2017.
It should be noted that KMYAC director Angie Akee is also on the board of directors of the North Queensland Land Council and is on the Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee for GBRMPA. My blog post from September 2017 titled ‘Do you want Indigenous autonomy and to stop Adani?’ explains in some detail the networks that surround Angelina Akee including Juru Enterprises 2014 dealings with Adani before the NGBR ILUA.
I will reiterate what I have been saying since I first heard Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh’s speech on Indigenous autonomy. We need to look at all the business around the North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUAs and dealings with Adani to determine if the native title system has delivered opportunities for Indigenous autonomy to be strengthened.
My strong position is that the Stop Adani coalition have chosen their spearhead traditional owner group and that all discussion about native title issues dealt with by amplification and funding of the chosen spearhead group leaving all other traditional owners out of the spotlight including those traditional owners who, having very little choice economically, choose to work with Adani.

Not Ready to Blockade: The Impact of Graeme Wood

“If we can’t stop it in the parliament, we’ll stop it by standing in front of those bulldozers. It won’t go ahead,” Senator Richard Di Natale, 15/10/17.
 
The bulldozers will start digging the Carmichael rail link (whose name barely anyone knows) in just a few days according to reports based on a statement not published on the Adani website. The reason barely anyone in the general public knows the name of the rail link ( North Galilee Basin Rail Project) is because the Stop Adani coalition members, their allies in the think tanks and NGOs, the Greens, all the other political parties, and the mainstream media (this includes The Guardian Australia) barely even say it’s name. In not saying it’s name they cut off in advance any discussion or exploration of the struggles of traditional owners along the nearly 400 kms of the proposed rail corridor, many of whom have signed with Adani. In refusing to acknowledge the rail project name as confirmed by Matt Canavan in February and May, all of those I previously listed act to mask the economic reality of traditional owners who are already burdened by the native title system which heavily favours mining companies.
 
Journalists like Michael West and Joshua Robertson see very little reason to name the rail project or explore the implications of the indigenous land use agreements signed along it’s length back in 2014. They tell me they’ve read my writings but, even at this time when Adani have announced that they’ll start digging in “days”, they don’t see why I’m so concerned with naming the rail project for the public.
 
The first senate NAIF inquiry hearing explored the issue of our collective knowledge of the rail project earmarked for the 1 billion concessional loan. Two people discussed the source of this knowledge during the first hearing, Tom Swann and David Barnden. Both spoke of a December Courier Mail article as the primary source of information regarding the likely project. While David Barnden mentioned the rail project named in that CM article, Tom Swann raised doubts about the voracity of certain claims in the article. As it turns out both men knew coming into the hearing that Matt Canavan had placed the rail project name on the public record. Tom Swann has acknowledged this in a tweet to me and the Environmental Justice Australia submission to the inquiry references the answer to question on notice SI.36 in which Matt Canavan first passes on the message given to him by his department on behalf of the NAIF. 
Following the NAIF inquiry The Australia Institute submitted their own answers to questions on notice. These answers included references to previously mentioned QoN SI.36. This is the first public reference of any kind to the acknowledgement by the NAIF board of the name of the rail project, and therefore the likely proponent and project location. I explain the importance of the TAI response in this blog post
Clearly Richard Di Natale should be publicly pushing for another NAIF hearing and encouraging Senator Janet Rice to push as well. Di Natale should be asking Senators Ian MacDonald, Jane Hume and Murray Watt to agree to a second hearing. 
Are we ready to blockade?
We are not ready to blockade. We don’t collectively know the name or nature of the rail project Richard Di Natale says he’s so keen to stop. Di Natale did not take the opportunity at the first NAIF inquiry hearing to mention the rail project name and that it had been placed on the public record. Nobody in the party he leads, despite the fact that they had 6 months and 2 senate estimates hearings, and a inqiury hearing has raised the issue or acknowledged Matt Canavan’s communication. What makes things worse is that Matt Canavan contradicted his own statements from December that the project name, location, and proponent were “commercial-in-confidence”. Why was this contradiction not enough to make the Greens politicians motivated to name the rail project?
Richard Di Natale’s statements about standing in front of bulldozers are hollow and improvised. He is siding with and wearing the logo of the coalition NGOs working with plans funded by impact philanthropy. It just so happens that the single biggest donor to the Greens, Graeme Wood is the impact philanthropist who has been intimately involved in funding or facilitating funding for the groups that form the StopAdani coalition. If Graeme Wood was seeking to have impact in stopping the mine he has failed, but if he was seeking to control the resistance, to not test the foundations of corporate law and the native title system, to place a single traditional owner group in the spotlight and cast almost all others in shadow, then he has succeeded.

Do you want Indigenous autonomy and to stop Adani?

Warning: This blog post looks closely at the Juru people’s business and corporate relationships relating to the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex. I do this only to provide context to Juru Elder Carol Prior’s recent calls regarding the need for greater efforts to protect Juru country and to give consideration to the desires and ambitions of those who choose to work with mining companies, governments, and other bodies involved in regional development.

*For an understanding of Indigenous autonomy listen to this recent speech by Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh.

Everything I’ve included in the blog post below is provided to explain the type and extent of networks and incorporated entities that can inform our understanding of Carol Prior’s complaint against her Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC), Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation (KMYAC).

I’ve focused on a very visible leader among the Juru people, Angelina Akee who is the 1st director of KMYAC. Ms Akee holds a number of positions that are of significance. Any day now we will discover if KMYAC have been placed under ‘special administration’ for failure to cooperate with 2 examiners appointed by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) in September 2016 and May 2017.

Read my previous blog posts here for some background: https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/the-invisiblised-struggle-of-an-ally-who-will-take-notice-of-orics-show-cause-letter-to-kmyac/

 

Angelina Akee – Networks

 

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

Angelina Akee is a member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee:

Angie is a Juru Traditional Owner and is the chair of the Kybra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation which is the prescribed body corporate for the Juru Traditional Owners.

http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/about-us/reef-advisory-committee/indigenous-reef-advisory-committee

A recent statement by Agelina Akee and Gavin Singleton at the GBRMPA Reef Summit 2017:

First nations people of Australia continue an age old long established spiritual and physical bond with the Great Barrier Reef that has existed for over 60,000 years. The Reef is a place that is highly significant for sustaining cultural celebration and community wellbeing for over 70 Traditional Owner groups. Recent events occurring on the Reef, both natural and manmade have had a disastrous impact on its state of health. Our tears of joy when connecting with the reef as young people has turned to tears of deep sadness as elders. We watch this wonder of the natural world show us that it needs our immediate care. We the first nations people of Australia send an urgent call to all people of the world to please give us your help to turn back the clock of deterioration. We believe it is no longer a question of resilience but a desperate need for intervention. With deep respect, we call out to all global citizens and international story tellers who have, in the past, and wish to in the future, experience the majesty of the Reef, to walk with us on this journey of courage, to give back her dignity, by nursing her back to health. We the first nations people of Australia, acknowledge the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is a natural wonder and a global asset and as such requires solutions to come from the global village to stop this tragedy from happening in our lifetimes. Let us be a generation of action and restoration. We must ensure the universal songlines of the Great Barrier Reef continue to endure for many generations to come. Indigenous Reef Advisory Committee (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) 2017

http://elibrary.gbrmpa.gov.au/jspui/bitstream/11017/3203/1/GBR-Summit-proceedings-and-outputs-report.pdf

 

North Queensland Land Council (NQLC) – Townsville/Ayr Ward

Angelina Akee is on the board of directors of the North Queensland Land Council and is responsible for the Townsville/Ayr ward.

http://www.nqlc.com.au/files/9414/7908/0841/NQLC_Annual_Report_2015-2016.pdf

Statement by Angelina Akee upon the 3rd consent determination from the Federal Court, June 22, 2015:

The Juru People can now move forward with a strategic plan for the management of our land and sea country. This highlights the importance of recognition of the our people’s land and sea. – Angelina Akee (Kyburra Chairperson and NQLC Director)

https://nqlc.com.au/files/3614/4184/9047/20150902_MS_Q3_FINAL_WEB_v2.pdf

 

Local Networking

2015 Bowen Basin Mining Club – contractor networking event 2015

Photos:

1. Angie Akee with Adani, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (DATSIP) Partnerships, and Department of State Development Infrastructure and Planning (DSDIP) staff

screenshot.443.jpg

2. Juru Enterprises Limited (JEL) staff Trevor Prior and Damein Aidon

screenshot.444

https://issuu.com/miningadvocate/docs/qia_march_2015

 

KMYAC and JEL connection

Juru Enterprises Limited provide employment, health, education, and cultural services within the Juru determination area boundaries including jobs in the mining industry.

Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Juru-Enterprises-Limited-1505795609645605/posts/

Juru Enterprises Limited

20 January

Juru Enterprises will no longer receive any bursary funding.
Please contact Kyburra Munda Yalga
5 Charles Street Gulliver, Townsville QLD 4812
E-mail: admin@kyburramundayalgacorp.com
Phone: (07) 47281117
Fax : (07) 4775222

In 2014 shortly before voting meetings on the ILUA with Adani over the North Galilee Basin Rail Project, KMYAC and JEL held their AGM and an SGM at the same event.

Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Juru-Enterprises-Limited-1505795609645605/posts/

Juru Enterprises Limited

27 March 2014

Good Afternoon Everyone

A Special General Meeting will he Held in:
Townsville at the Centre Base Child Care, 33-37 Aitken Street Aitkenvale on the 29.04.2014

This Special General Meeting is to movie a resolution to Amend the Constitution to Accept the Rosie Wake Family.

Agenda:
5:00pm Dinner (Buffet Style)
6:00pm Kyburra Munda Yala Corporation – AGM
6:45pm Juru Enterprises Special General Meeting
Close of Meeting 9:00pm

Letters will be Mailed out to Juru Members this week

Thank you

An excerpt from the May-August 2014 edition of the JEL newsletter:

Adani Mining In July, a delegation of Juru representatives will be meeting with representatives from Adani Mining to discuss employment opportunities for the Juru people. While in Brisbane, the delegates will also be meeting with prospective Adani contractors to discuss the possibilities of joint ventures.

http://www.juruenterprises.com.au/assets/newsletter-issue-4.pdf

 

Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation

Documents from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations show that Angelina Akee is a director of Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation.

http://register.oric.gov.au/reports/generatereports.aspx?rpt=cmpext&fmt=pdf&concernID=2035210

 

 

 

Confirmation that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the Adani rail project being considered by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

 

Yesterday, in response to questions on notice arising from the August 11 hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Governance and Operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), The Australia Institute and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) provided detailed answers relating to their knowledge about the NAIF. A series of answers provided by Senator Canavan’s Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio to questions on notice was referenced and quotes provided that show that on two occasions, the first in February and the second in May, Senator Canavan informed senators of the name of the specific project that Adani and the NAIF were considering, the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR).

Senator Canavan not only mentioned the name of the project, but he also contradicted earlier statements that naming the project would breach “commercial in confidence” provisions with the NAIF. No submissions to the NAIF inquiry referenced Senator Canavan’s answers to questions on notice that named the Adani project. Nobody at the hearing mentioned the senator’s answers even though at least two of the NGO submissions mentioned NGBR. The transcript from the NAIF inquiry shows that both Tom Swann representing The Australia Institute and David Barnden representing Environmental Justice Australia discussed the Renee Viellaris exclusive from December 2, 2016 which broke the news of the Adani-NAIF loan and is cited in TAI’s ‘Don’t be so Naif’ in reference to working assumptions that NGBR is the specific rail corridor under consideration.

The TAI and DIIS responses are downloadable here:

http://www.aph.gov.au/sitecore/content/Home/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/NAIF/Additional_Documents

The Australia Institute provided a response to questions on notice to the Senate Economics Committee dated September 5, 2017 which includes references and quotes from two key documents from Senator Canavan’s portfolio QoN numbers SI.36 and AI.70.

Quote:

ANSWER

During Senate Estimates on 20 October 2016, the Office of Northern Australia took a

question on notice on behalf of NAIF.

The Answer was submitted on 16 February 2017 by the Office of Northern Australia:

“Adani is one of the 13 projects. Adani has expressed interest in accessing the NAIF

for purposes of supporting the North Galilee Basin Rail Project”.9

Reference:

SI-36 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Adani 16/02/2017

9 http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup16

17/Industry/index

Quote:

22 May Office of Northern Australia advises Senate Estimates:

“there has been no public formal announcement from Government.

The NAIF had informed the Minister via email that Adani had

consented to disclose the following: ‘Adani has expressed interest in

accessing the NAIF facility, for the purposes of supporting the North

Galilee Basin Railway Project.’”xliii

The ONA does not say what date this information was provided.

Reference:

AI-70 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia NAIF interaction with Minister’s office 23/05/2017

http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/economics_ctte/estimates/add_1617/Industry/answers/AI-70_Waters.pdf

I have communicated with Tom Swann via Twitter and asked “Who knew about SI.36 when they were at the senate NAIF inquiry?”, he confirmed that at the time of the August 11 hearing he was aware of SI.36 saying “I did, but couldn’t recall date\ number etc. Who would’ve thought Committee demand evidence Adani’s had applied?!”.

In fact Tom Swann knew of the existence of SI.36 in early July. His report titled Palaszczuk’s Promise’ which makes no mention of the NGBR and has a creation date of July 10, 2017 references SI.36 in relation to a February 2016 letter:

Quote:

On 18 February 2016 the Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt wrote to the federal government requesting that it consider a subsidised loan of nearly $1 billion to Adani for its rail line, via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).4

Reference:

SI-36 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Adani 16/02/2017

4 http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/economics_ctte/estimates/sup_1617/Industry/answers/SI-36_Waters.pdf

Reference:

Palaszczuk’s Promise’

http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/Swann%202017%20Palaszcuk%20subsidies%20for%20Adani.pdf

 

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science provided written responses to questions on notice to the Senate Economics Committee in a document created September 7, 2017 which includes a clarification citing the same key document referenced by TAI, QoN number SI.36.

Quote:

Senator Hume: We don’t even know whether Adani is approved or part of the due diligence process or short-listed (transcript page 16).

Clarification: Question No. SI-36, SI-140, Supplementary Budget Estimates, 20 October 2016, confirmed that the Adani Group has expressed an interest in the NAIF.

 

QoN SI.36 was created by Senator Canavan’s portfolio and published on February 20 in response to questions placed on notice at the Senate Estimates, October 20, 2016. QoN SI.33, SI.35, and SI. 39 which were all created by the senator’s portfolio and published on or shortly after December 16, 2016 argue that “commercial-in-confidence” considerations include details like the name, proponent and location of NAIF projects. It’s clear that in naming the project in SI.36 and AI.70 the senator has contradicted himself.

I will go through each question on notice and explain how naming the project automatically gives you the location and proponent.

SI.33

Quote:

In accordance with Clause 17(2) of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Investment Mandate Direction 2016, within 30 business days of an Investment Decision, the NAIF must publish information regarding all transactions on its website, subject to commercial confidentiality, including:

a) the name of the Project Proponent;

b) the goods/services involved;

c) the location;

d) the type of Financing Mechanism; and

e) the amount of the Financing Mechanism.

Reference:

SI-33 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia NAIF Proposals 15/12/2016

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup1617/Industry/index

SI. 35

Quote:

ANSWER

I can confirm that discussions have occurred between Adani Australia representatives and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in respect of their rail project in the North Galilee Basin. These discussions are commercial-in-confidence and we are unable to provide any further information.

Reference:

SI-35 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Meetings between NAIF and Adani 16/12/2016

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup1617/Industry/index

SI. 39

This answer is emphatic about not naming the project or proponent.

Quote:

The location and name of the projects are commercial-in-confidence.

One formal proposal has been submitted and this has progressed to due diligence phase. The location and name of the project is commercial-in-confidence.

In accordance with Clause 17(2) of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Investment Mandate Direction 2016 (Investment Mandate) within 30 business days of an Investment Decision, the NAIF must publish information regarding all transactions on its website, subject to commercial confidentiality, including:

a) the name of the Project Proponent;

b) the goods/services involved;

c) the location;

d) the type of Financing Mechanism; and

e) the amount of the Financing Mechanism.

Reference:

SI-39 Ketter, Chris Office of Northern Australia Funding under the NAIF 15/12/16

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/sup1617/Industry/index

*Once you have the name ‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project’ you can easily find this link which provides you with the project proponent and the location: https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/north-galilee-basin-rail-project.html

Larissa Waters’ line of questioning at the March 2, 2017 senate estimates is interesting. By this time the senator would have seen the response to QoN SI.36 and accessed the relevant Queensland Department of State Development documents and seen that Adani Mining Pty Ltd were the NGBR project proponents. But in QoN AI.71 she asks a question for which she ought to know the answer.

Quote:

QUESTION No.: AI-71

1. Can you shed any light at all on which Adani company has applied for financial assistance? The reason we’re interested is that the company which owns the Carmichael mine (Adani Mining Pty Ltd) is ultimately owned by a company registered in the tax haven Mauritius, and the company that owns their proposal for the railway line is ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands. The company that owns the Abbot Point coal port is also owned ultimately in the Cayman Islands.

Reference:

AI-71 Waters, Larissa Office of Northern Australia Adani loan 22/05/2017

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Senate_Estimates/economicsctte/estimates/add1617/Industry/index

Having read the submissions, the August 11 hearing transcript, responses to questions on notice; because I prepared a blog post dedicated to references by environmental organisations to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project in relation to the North Australia Infrastructure Facility, and because none of those reports ever mentioned Senator Canavan naming the project, I’m left scratching my head wondering how the hell did this happen? Nobody pointed out that the senator had expressly stated it would be a breach of commercial-in-confidence guidelines to name the project and somehow nobody thought to mention the existence of SI.36 and AI.70 in the NAIF senate inquiry.

‘References to NGBR in reports by environmental organisations about the NAIF concessional loan to Adani: Briefing Document’.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/references-to-ngbr-in-reports-by-environmental-organisations-about-the-naif-concessional-loan-to-adani-briefing-document/

The Invisiblised Struggle of an Ally: Who will take notice of ORIC’s ‘show cause’ letter to KMYAC?

This is an article about two stories that tell a little of the struggles of a group of native title holders who’ve become marginalised from the corporation their people were compelled to form in order to make a claim on their traditional lands and negotiate for the protection of important places, access to country, and a stake in the economic development of the region. What makes these two stories important is that they are all that exists in the mainstream, alternative, and environmental media in Australia. This is in spite of the fact that this struggle revolves around a controversial mining company and a very controversial proposed rail line that will ensure that the largest coal complex in the world can be opened up. Negotiations over land use agreements for the proposed rail line were held under the threat of compulsory acquisition and subject to the usual unequal and opaque processes that native title holders are made subject to under the Native Title Act.

The bodies responsible for arbitrating and regulating Indigenous corporations play a part in my article. Much of the information I gathered from them was hard-won. I can’t say that either the arbitrator or the regulator prioritise information giving or have consistent practices/knowledge organisationally. They certainly are not geared up to support a blackfella marginalised from their Indigenous corporation. The ‘show clause’ letter mentioned in the title is the regulator’s third attempt at compelling the Indigenous corporation to cooperate and allow their dealings with the controversial mining company to be put under scrutiny.

A largely ignored story

On October 20, 2014 the ABC published a story by Isobel Roe titled ‘Native title holders lodge objection to proposed North Galilee Basin rail project’. 

Here’s the opening line of the story:

The Juru people are the traditional owners of land that Adani Mining is using to build the North Galilee Basin rail project.

The second line explains how there exist allegations of poor information giving around negotiations over an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani:

They said most of the traditional owners did not know what Adani’s plans were and were unable to attend information meetings, including a forum in Townsville.

The third line explains what action Carol Prior and her fellow native title holders were going to take:

Chairwoman Carol Prior said they were lodging an objection with the Native Title Tribunal because they had not been properly consulted.

In my conversation with an unnamed National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) employee on May 23, 2017 I was able to gather information relating to Adani/NGBR ILUAs that for unknown reasons is not available on the NNTT website or anywhere else. I was told that following the second vote on the ILUA that is listed with the NNTT under tribunal number QI2014/072, a ‘notification’ period of one month starting Oct 21, 2014 was made available for KMYAC members to lodge objections to the ILUA. I was told by the NNTT employee that no objection was lodged. Not only was there no objection lodged by Carol Prior or her fellow native title holders, but no objections were lodged against any of the three ILUAs relating to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) that were voted on, lodged, and registered between August 2014 and April 2015.

For background on the NNTT see my blog post titled ‘The National Native Title Tribunal: Arbiter or “record keeper”?’.

 

Another largely ignored story

On Oct 21, 2016 the Townsville Bulletin published a story by Samantha Healy titled ‘Calls for Aboriginal corporation to hand over its books’.

The story outlines how Carol Prior and fellow KMYAC members have made a complaint to the regulator of Aboriginal corporations which involves allegations of mismanagement and “financial irregularities” relating to payments from Adani amounting to more than 2 million dollars.

The story quotes the complaint document:

“It is our submission that Kyburra has actually received monies from Adani Mining Pty Ltd during 2014-15 in the amount of $1.225 million.”

and

“In addition, a Cultural Heritage Management Plan is in place and Adani transferred $825,000 to Kyburra for cultural heritage survey activities.”

I first called ORIC on April 19, 2017 and was told that ORIC had received a report from the examiner and would publish something in “3 weeks”. I called ORIC again on May 1 and confirmed that “May 10ish” was the date when something would be published. On May 15 I called ORIC again and spoke to a case manager who read sections of what I’ve now come to discover was the draft report from the first examiner appointed in September 2016. A senior ORIC media officer would not confirm the voracity of any of the quotes I took from my conversation with the case manager. I cover this phone call in my blog post titled ‘ORIC to redo examination into Indigenous corporation involved in negotiations with Adani’.

Here’s a section from that blog post with quotes from the case manager reading from the draft examination:

The case manager explained to me that because the first examination “wasn’t completed properly” due in part to instances when the examiner was “unable to access the [Indigenous] corporation” and unable to access “other” parties. The case manager also revealed “we had issues obtaining information”. 

I put some questions to the senior ORIC media officer via email and was able to confirm that an incomplete draft examination report was submitted to ORIC on March 6, 2017.

Here’s a quote from the ORIC senior media officer on July 31, 2017:

On 6 March 2017 Mr James Barrett lodged with ORIC a draft examination report which was incomplete. A final examination report was never lodged with ORIC.

Between March 6 and May 10 ORIC decided that they would need to appoint a new examiner and when they posted the new Notice of Examination they removed the previous notice. The senior media officer would not explain why the the old notice was removed.

 

Corporate Failure

In June, 2017 I had an in depth conversation with Dr James Swansson, author of a research paper prepared for ORIC called ‘Analysing key characteristics in Indigenous corporate failure’. Dr Swansson indicated that the data he used was at least 10 years old and the research paper itself was published in 2010.

The research paper outlines the types of corporate failure and the role of ORIC in regulating and responding to various circumstances that Indigenous corporations may encounter. I explained the context of the examinations into KMYAC to Dr Swansson and was advised that KMYAC would likely fail to cooperate with the second examiner.  This is precisely what the release by ORIC on August 25, 2017 of a ‘show cause’ letter threatening “special administration” demonstrates has happened. ORIC are exercising their powers under the CATSI ACT in response to repeated refusal by KMYAC to cooperate with the appointed examiner.

Here’s a quote from the ‘show cause’ letter issued by Ruth Jones, Delegate of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations:

I am writing to tell you that I am considering putting the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC (ICN 7581) (the corporation) under special administration under Division 487 of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act).

An Aboriginal corporation charged with negotiating an ILUA with Adani over a rail corridor that is widely reported to be the rail corridor earmarked for a I billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) is alleged to have received upwards of 2 million dollars from Adani in 2014/15 without disclosing those funds in published financial statements. This Aboriginal corporation has failed to cooperate with two examiners, the first a solo operator, and the second a large firm with offices in Townsville.

Carol Prior has carried her message of voting irregularities and mismanagement of negotiating processes over a crucial ILUA from her Oct 2014 interview to her Oct 2016 ORIC complaint. In the intervening period she has been involved in media and events associated with various conservation organisations and environmental NGOs. They’ve mentioned her name and spoken of how they want to protect her country, they asked her to sign their open letters and attend their events, they call her “Aunty” but they’ve never share any of what you just read. No spokesperson, journalist, activist, or blogger has ever published anything outside of the two largely ignored stories I just shared with you.

 

 

 

References to NGBR in reports by environmental organisations about the NAIF concessional loan to Adani: Briefing Document

 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation, The Australia Institute, and the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland have all published reports that either accept the reasoned assumption that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) is the project earmarked for the concessional loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) that was widely reported after an exclusive in The Courier Mail on 03/12/2016, or have referenced documents relating to the NGBR when reporting on the proposed rail line in the NAIF application by Adani.

The one exception to all of these reports was a report by Michael West which he prepared for the Australian Conservation Foundation which does not mention the NGBR in any way.

Below I have included links and quotes for each report that demonstrate what I have explained above. The reports are listed in chronological order.

December 2016

Greenpeace Australia Pacific – Off Track: Why NAIF can’t approve the Carmichael Rail Project

http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/PageFiles/293385/Off%20Track%20-%20Why%20NAIF%20can%E2%80%99t%20approve%20the%20Carmichael%20Rail%20Project%20(web%20version).pdf

Quote:

Multiple users

The Carmichael Rail Project claims to be ‘multiuse’ and ‘open-access,’ 5 but will be an exclusive coal rail line and the proponents fail to identify any other mines or projects that would use the rail line.6 It is designed to ship coal from the Carmichael coal mine to the port at Abbot Point. The financial viability of other proposed projects in the Galilee Basin is tenuous, with many of them stalled. The Rail Project is not designed to be used for any other purpose that might provide a public benefit, for example, carrying agricultural products.7”

Reference:

6 North Galilee Basin Rail Project, EIS Executive Summary. Available at: http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessmentsand-approvals/north-galilee-basin-rail-projects-environmentalimpact-statement.html

March 2017

The Australia Institute – Don’t be so naif Adani and Governance of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)

http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/P318%20Dont%20be%20so%20naif%20FINAL.pdf

Quote:

The Adani proposal

Having examined what is known about the NAIF, let us now return to the Adani loan proposal. The specific proposal under consideration is a concessional $1 billion loan towards the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. This is a 310 km rail link from the Galilee Basin, a large undeveloped coal region, to the Abbot Point coal export terminal.”

Reference:

109 Viellaris (2016) Adani’s $2b rail on track for jobs boom, Courier Mail

Note: 350.org.au created a mirror version of this article which is the ‘exclusive’ on which all other reporting was based. It is also available on microfiche at the State Library of Queensland. This article is not made available online by The Courier Mail. https://350.org.au/press-release/courier-mail-adanis-2b-rail-on-track-for-jobs-boom/

April 2017

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland – North Galilee Basin Rail approvals and NAIF

http://www.edoqld.org.au/north-galilee-basin-rail-approvals-and-naif/

Quote:

On 3 December 2016 media broadly reported that the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (‘NAIF’) granted preliminary approval for funding the North Galilee Basin Rail (NGBR) Line.[1] There is no regulatory provision for NAIF to grant ‘preliminary approval’ for financial assistance for a project under the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility Act 2016 (‘NAIF Act’).

Reference:

Michael Koziol and David Wroe, ‘Turnbull Government eyes $1 billion Adani loan backed by new infrastructure fund,’The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 4 December 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/turnbull-government-eyes-1-billion-adani-loan-backed-by-new-infrastructure-fund-20161204-gt3joz.html

May 2017

Australian Conservation Foundation – ‘Dirty Deeds’: The shady web behind potential Adani finance

Download link: https://www.acf.org.au/dirty_deeds

I can provide no quotes or references in relation to the NGBR. The Australia Institute report ‘Don’t be so naif’ was listed as a reference not related to the rail project in question.

I gave a full response to this report on my blog We Suspect Silence. My response was detailed and comprehensive. I’m still shocked at how Michael West managed to ignore the reports by EDO Qld and TAI in relation to NGBR.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/michael-west-acf-and-the-dirty-deeds-report-an-incredible-silence/

May 2017

Australian Marine Conservation Society – Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project: factsheet

https://www.marineconservation.org.au/pages/adani-carmichael-coal-mine-rail-project-factsheet-.html

Quote (no reference):

The Carmichael Rail Project

  • The Carmichael mine is remote. To transport the coal to its port on the coast, Adani propose to build the North Galilee Basin Rail Project.
  • This 388 km long standard gauge, greenfield rail line will have a capacity of up to 100Mtpa – enough for the Carmichael mine and more. The rail line will connect the mine to the Port of Abbot Point, near Bowen, Queensland.”

Quote (questionable reference):

Impacts of the rail

  • The North Galilee Basin Railway would use trains 4km long, each carrying around 25,000 tonnes of coal in 240 wagons.17
  • Property owners along the line can expect to see nine of these fully loaded monster trains a day, plus the same number of empty trains returning from port.18”

Reference:

17 North Galilee Rail EIS, Project Description p.59 and p.75

18 North Galilee Rail EIS, Project Description p.59 and p.75”

August 2017

Australian Conservation Foundation – Carmichael – Abbot Point Rail: Financing Issues for Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Prepared by ACIL Allen Consulting for submission to the NAIF senate inquiry).

The report can be found on this page listed as Attachment 1 in the ACF submission.

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/NAIF/Submissions

Quote (no reference):

The rail link comprises the 78-km Carmichael rail project from the mining and processing operation to Mistake Creek, and the 310-km North Galilee Basin Rail (NGBR) project from Mistake Creek to Abbot Point. The NGBR facility will be accessible by other enterprises.”

Quote (no reference):

The former Minister for Resources and Northern Australia has articulated a rationale for concessionary NAIF financial support up to $1 billion for the NGBR project.”

Note: The term “North Galilee Basin Rail” was used once in the report, then shortened to NGBR which was used 18 times. The absence of any references for the assumptions made about the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is very concerning.

The Galilee Basin Shell Game Continues

Matt Rose from the Australian Conservation Foundation kindly sent me their latest report which was independently prepared by ACIL Allen for submission to the upcoming senate NAIF inquiry.
 
The authors of the report assume that the 1 billion NAIF loan is for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project which is mentioned 19 times. This assumption is not supported by any citations, but in my opinion the assumption is correct.
 
The distance of the proposed rail link corridor is listed by the Australian Marine Conservation Society as 388 kms, the recent television spots by Adani have also listed the distance as 388 kms, and a media statement by Matt Canavan in December last year lists the distance as 388 kms. The following passage in the ACF report prepared by ACIL Allen shows where that 388 km figure comes from.
“The rail link comprises the 78-km Carmichael rail project from the mining and processing operation to Mistake Creek, and the 310-km North Galilee Basin Rail (NGBR) project from Mistake Creek to Abbot Point. The NGBR facility will be accessible by other enterprises. The rail link would have an initial capacity of 40 million tonnes per year and an ultimate designed capacity of 100 million tonnes per year. The cost of the Carmichael and NGBR rail projects is estimated to total of the order of $2.75 billion (based on the $2.2 billion reported cost of the NGBR), and the total cost of the mine, rail and port facilities and other associated infrastructure has been reported to be around $21.7 billion.”
GalileeBasin_coalcomplex_railprojects
This is how it breaks down. The North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) is 310 kms, you can confirm that distance here. The rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) must be 78 kms, but the authors don’t provide a source or explanation for this assumption. The whole figure of 388 km represents a fusion of two separate and easily conflated projects. Indeed that was the substance of the explanation offered to me today when I spoke with Matt Rose and asked about the lack of primary sources, and the invisibility of the NGBR to most people.
My question is: Is the CCMR component of the 388 km corridor a part of the NAIF application by Adani?
The North Galilee Basin Rail Project has all the land use agreements it needs, biodiversity offsets have been arranged, and the CEO of Adani Australia is reported to have said that 100 workers will be employed to do geotechnical work on the NGBR over the next 6 months. The Carmichael Mine and Rail Project is another matter entirely. Could it be severable? Could the North Galilee Basin Rail Project get built and begin servicing other north Galilee Basin mines and incentivising the further opening of the Galilee Basin while we are distracted by the Carmichael mine and unnecessary conflations?
For further reading check out my blog post: Compromised Primary Sources and the Galilee Basin Shell Game
Also, check out this report by Mark Kenny in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. It contains not a single reference to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project.