We Suspect Silence

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

Month: October, 2017

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

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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.