Why is there so much silence around the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and related Indigenous Land Use Agreements?

The following links are taken from a briefing document I prepared for a friend who is a native title expert. It is the result of 2 years of research into the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex.

Indigenous Land Use Agreements applying to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project

QI2014/080 – Birriah People and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA


QI2014/072 – Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA


QI2014/065 – Bulganunna Aboriginal Corporation and Adani Mining Carmichael North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA


Rail has been a focus of mine since my time as a shareholder activist with Over Our Dead Bodies. We attended the 2013 Aurizon AGM highlighting the vulnerability of Aurizon’s extensive networks to protest groups using a range of tactics. I later helped to co-found the Galilee Blockade group with which I am no longer associated.

My research has looked at the output and messaging of mainstream, progressive & business media, environmental groups & social movements, and governments at state and federal level. I have discerned through my research that they all must have some motivation to keep the spotlight off both the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) and related Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs).

The fact that finding basic information about one crucial set of land owners along the investigation corridor of the NGBR took more than 18 months and a few helpful phone calls to the National Native Title Tribunal is very concerning. That politicians, journalists, and environmental spokespeople rarely if ever specify which of the 2 Adani rail projects they are discussing is concerning and infuriating. There appears to be a blithe unwillingness to embrace a fundamental truth about mining coal for export: Stop the rail line and you stop the mine!

Stop the rail line and you stop the mine.jpg

It’s very simple. Stop the means of export. Stop critical infrastructure that has multiple vulnerabilities. If the train line is secured then the port will happen. If you know as much as you can about the likely rail corridor then you will have the best strategic starting position.

George Brandis is rushing to strengthen native title law in favour of miners and in the wake of the Noongar decision. There continues to be silence around the very ILUAs that will likely play a fundamental part in making the Galilee Basin coal complex possible. We ought to be looking as closely as we can at this situation, with discretion, sensitivity, and an eye toward finding the best possible outcomes for the black fella groups along the NGBR corridor.

A question posed in the title of a well cited piece by Greenpeace’s David Ritter, a native title expert, speaks volumes about how he may still feel about the National Native Title Tribunal and the native title system as a whole. It’s “A Sick Institution” presiding over a sick system and I think many would agree.