We Suspect Silence

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

Tag: capitalism

Aboriginal Autonomy and the Galilee Basin Coal Complex

First published by the Native Title Unit of the Australian Attorney-General’s Department

Submission to Reforms to the Native Title Act 1993: Transparent agreement-making

Submission by:

Michael Swifte

February 2018

Email: mgswifte@yahoo.com.au

Blog: We Suspect Silence

Twitter: http://twitter.com/empathiser

Member: Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective

Sections

1. Motivated by understanding Green-Black relations.

2. Auto-didactics and an unstructured methodology.

3. My key themes and areas where I shine a spotlight.

(a) Theme one: Indigenous Land Use Agreements relating to the crucial Adani rail link to the Galilee Basin.

(b) Theme two: Information giving and oversight of negotiation processes.

(c) Theme three: Non PBCs/RNTBCs making ILUAs

List of acronyms

NNTT – National Native Title Tribunal

NTA – Native Title Act

PBC – Prescribed Bodies Corporate

RNTBC – Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate

ORIC – Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations

ILUA – Indigenous Land Use Agreement

NAIF – Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

KMYAC – Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation

JEL – Juru Enterprises Limited

NGBR – North Galilee Basin Rail Project

NPIC – Non-Profit Industrial Complex

WKOG – Wrong Kind of Green

CSG – Coal Seam Gas

RTI – Right to Information

1. Motivated by understanding Green-Black relations.

I started out as an anti-CSG (coal seam gas) activist in 2011 working with Generation Alpha and Zombie-A-Frack. I then moved on to be a founding member of the Galilee Blockade group. Around that time I was a shareholder activist against Aurizon as part of the Over Our Dead Bodies campaign. These were the earlier stages of the Queensland based environmental resistance against the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex.

As a member of Galilee Blockade I was focussed on strategy and capacity building for future blockades and direct actions in the Galilee Basin. I fell out with the Galilee Blockade group but maintained an interest in good strategy to inform direct action in the Galilee Basin.

My research into native title issues in the context of large scale coal mining development in the Galilee Basin – which I began tentatively in mid 2015 – was focussed on analysis of the ‘means of export’ and the economic position/agency of Traditional Owners in relation to the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex. At this time I was not conscious of the concept of ‘Aboriginal autonomy’ as articulated by Professor Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh from the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University. (1)

I have moved from a position of support for stopping the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex ‘at all costs’ to a more nuanced position that takes account of the experience of Traditional Owners and their communities in dealing with the apparatus of the native title system. There is an inherent tension in valuing both Aboriginal autonomy and the prevention of destructive mining developments. It is my belief that in this tension lies the great challenge of decolonisation as it relates to all Indigenous and non-indigenous people. There is no value – in terms of decolonisation – in ignoring particular issues and groups of people when attempting to engage Indigenous and non-indigenous people in support of a particular agenda. Indeed, only thorough and honest assessments of the economic reality of all Traditional Owners as they engage or are excluded from engaging in the negotiation processes afforded to them by the native title system can we properly inform and underpin our fiduciary responsibility to Aboriginal people with regard to the institutions and corporations they are compelled to form and maintain.

Corruption and corporate failure occur in all modern cultural contexts, and as such the expression of these phenomena are a legacy of the post-colonial/colonised era in which our native system operates. Transparent agreement making must be supported by processes and information-giving that allow the general public and more specifically Traditional Owners who have been marginalised from their representative bodies to make assessments about the integrity and effectiveness of the native title system. In the following passages I will make the case that rather than being accountable, accessible and fair, the key institutions that make up the native title system fail to deliver justice through ineffective and poorly defined information-giving, lack of oversight and disclosure regarding negotiation processes, and significant bureaucratic/administrative/institutional failures in attempting to make the native title system navigable.

My involvement with the critical thinking collective Wrong Kind of Green (WKOG) began in 2014 after my first blog post on my blog called We Suspect Silence under my Twitter handle @empathiser. (2) The relationship has deepened since. The non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) critique is at the centre of WKOG’s entirely self funded work. Broadly, the non-profit industrial complex critique contends that through funding relationships with philanthropy, and through networked relationships with a broad range of government, corporate, and non-government institutions, the not-for profit sector effectively captures the efforts of Indigenous and non-indigenous activists for the benefit neo-liberal forces.

2. Auto-didactics and an unstructured methodology.

I subscribe to the understanding of intelligence articulated by anti-war activist Stan Goff in his 2007 essay ‘On Strategy, Tactics & Intelligence’.

Intelligence is information analyzed for its value to develop plans for action. Most of it, even in the world of government intelligence, doesn’t come from breaking codes or running agents — contrary to the media myths — but from information that is readily available to everyone. Basically, that means if we do intelligence gathering and analysis right, then ours is going to be as good as theirs… maybe better, since we don’t have bureaucratic ambitions and political agendas distorting ours as much.” (3)

My journey has been a learning one. I entered into this area only seeking to get to the truth and as such did not have a predetermined or structured plan. I have had to become an investigative journalist and a pundit to compliment my environmental activism, but it has been my determination to never forget or ignore the economic impacts on all Traditional Owners and their communities that has kept my eyes open. The depth and breadth of economic impacts on Traditional Owner communities and the nature of the negotiating processes that lead to key decision making events have only been revealed to me because I make a special effort of digging around to extract information that Traditional Owners are entitled to know but would otherwise be buried. The decision making events I have investigated – voting meetings, ILUA authorisation meetings, execution meetings – fall under the focus of the ‘Transparent Agreements’ proposals contained in the Reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 Options Paper. I will include information not published by the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) but derived from my investigative efforts in the section titled ‘My key themes and areas I spotlight’.

My phone calls to NNTT case workers and other staff helped me get clarification of basic elements of it’s information-giving and information architecture. I was always mindful of the experience of and challenges put before a claim group member who was marginalised from the negotiation process. I routinely asked myself “How much useful information could a blackfella get from calling the NNTT?”.

The process of finding the relevant ILUA documents was haphazard and involved many phone calls to NNTT staff. I encountered issues with information architecture, broken links, and a general lack of guidance for researchers in the online environment. As I outlined in my blog post titled ‘The National Native Title Tribunal: Arbiter or “record keeper”?’ some staff who deal with the public need to seek guidance about which non-privileged information in their possession can be provided to a member of the public. As a record keeper the NNTT is inconsistent.(4) Non-privileged information relating to ILUAs that I was told by one staff member would need to be provided in response to an email request, was freely provided over the phone by other staff members.

3. My key themes and areas where I shine a spotlight.

Rather than attend to the elements of the Native Title Act (NTA) and regulations, I will be presenting particular sets of information gathered since mid 2015, much of which is rarely, if ever, discussed in public forums.

(a) Theme one: Indigenous Land Use Agreements relating to the crucial Adani rail link to the Galilee Basin.

The North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) is the standard gauge rail project which was the subject of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan application. This was revealed to me during the inquiry conducted by the Senate Economics References Committee titled ‘Governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)’. I analysed the revelations presented in this inquiry at length in my blog post titled ‘Confirmation that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the Adani rail project being considered by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility’. (5)

The NGBR is currently under development by Adani and is the crucial piece of export infrastructure without which the Galilee Basin coal complex could not be developed. As I highlight in my blog post titled ‘Unpacking the Galilee Basin shell game’ the project has been erroneously named the ‘Carmichael Rail Project’ by Adani Australia in the ‘Projects’ section of their website. (6) This is a contradiction of the actual name of the project which appears in the relevant Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) documents and in the Queensland Department of State Development project listings. One notable environmental organisation echoed this nomenclature in relation to the NAIF in December 2016. Greenpeace Australia Pacific published a document titled “OffTrack: Why NAIF can’t approve the Carmichael Rail Project’. (7)

By capitalising the words “rail” and “project”, both Adani and Greenpeace suggest a formal title for a project which in all official documents has a different name. The actual project name, the ‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project’, can be used as a targeted search term to direct researchers and the general public to documents that would show that negotiations, including voting meetings leading to signed ILUAs, took place between Adani and Traditional Owners in the second half on 2014. The absence of this name from popular discourse could be interpreted as a deliberate tactic to confound and mislead. Questions ought to be asked of Adani Australia and Greenpeace AP about their purpose in using a misleading title in this context.

Three key ILUAs relating to the NGBR have been signed without objection by the Juru, Birriah, and Jannga People’s representative bodies. These ILUAs were never discussed in any form, nor were the Traditional Owner representative groups mentioned by name in the New Matilda five part series titled ‘Killing Country’, which ostensibly focussed on native title issues in the Galilee Basin coal complex (though the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council was placed at the forefront of the story). These unreferenced pieces make no mention of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. The authors, Kristen Lyons, John Quiggin, and Morgan Brigg were supported by the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland to write the June 2017 report from which the New Matilda five part series follows on. The report is titled ‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS: ADANI, THE STATE, AND THE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU TRADITIONAL OWNERS COUNCIL’. (8)

(b) Theme two: Information giving and oversight of negotiation processes.

All the negotiation meetings in preparation for the registration of an ILUA come down to one or two voting meeting(s). After ascertaining that Adani had two rail projects, one of which was rarely ever named in the media or in government business, I was able to track down and identify – with the help of NNTT staff – the registered ILUAs that made the rarely-named (and sometimes mis-titled) rail project possible.

The below list is taken from my February 2017 blog post titled ‘Why is there so much silence around the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and related Indigenous Land Use Agreements?’. (9)

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

QI2014/072 – Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA (10)

QI2014/080 – Birriah People and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA (11)

QI2014/065 – Bulganunna Aboriginal Corporation and Adani Mining Carmichael North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA (12)

When I established through a 2014 Right to Information (RTI) disclosure that these ILUAs were significant to the development of the standard gauge rail project that is central to the Galilee Basin coal complex I began to develop a time line and identified key non-commercial-in-confidence data points that would help me ascertain if every effort was made to ensure that each claim group member was able to attend voting meetings on crucial ILUAs. (13) (14) My concern about voting meetings was driven by a single ABC regional article about Juru elder Carol Prior who stated that claim group members who were on Palm Island didn’t know about a crucial voting meeting. (15) She stated that she intended to object to the ILUA. No objection is recorded by the NNTT for any of the three ILUAs that I investigated. (16)

I determined that the dates when voting meetings occurred, the dates when voting meetings were advertised, and the dates when claim group members were notified of their right to object to an ILUA ought to published by the NNTT and be available to any member of the public. With these particular data points I would be able to ascertain if news paper ads had been placed and every effort had been made to notify claim group members.

After my initial requests for various advertising and voting dates was rejected by an NNTT case worker who suggested I write an email request, I decided to try other NNTT staff who were happy to provide me with what dates they were able to find. None were able to find any dates for advertising of authorisation/voting meetings. (17) I later returned to the first case worker with the data I had gathered and was told again that I should send through an email. I created a set of fields which included the data I had gathered and mistakenly did not specify that I was also requesting dates for the advertising of voting meetings. I received a reply to the email which included the dates of the authorisation meetings for each ILUA and an explanation that body corporate agreements – two of the three – did not require a public notification of intention to register an ILUA. (18) Having confirmed the voting meeting dates I was able to discern that for each of the three ILUAs the commencement date was also the date of the second of two voting meetings. My searches based on the execution dates provided by the NNTT case worker provided incomplete and interesting results.

Below are the data fields for voting meetings and advertising of notification periods. All of the information other than the tribunal numbers and registration dates was acquired or clarified through phone conversations and emails with NNTT staff in late 2016 and in 2017. (19) The execution dates for the Birriah and Jannga ILUAs (blue text) was provided via email with the NNTT case worker. (20)

Given the effort it took to gather unpublished dates for voting/authorisation/execution meetings I cannot see how the NNTT can effectively arbitrate a conflict over the delivery of a voting meeting if it does not acquire and retain information regarding the efforts made to ensure all claim group members have an opportunity to attend voting meetings and lodge objections. The lack of published information about meeting advertising dates, notification advertising dates, authorisation meeting dates signifies that the NNTT is neither actively providing oversight in regards to crucial authorisation meetings nor actively capturing and publishing non-commercially sensitive data that is relevant to marginalised Traditional Owners and other researchers.

Juru QI2014/072

Registered: 24/11/14

Votes: 05/08/14 and 16/09/14

Notification: 21/10/14 to 21/11/14

Advertised: Body Corporate Agreement. Not advertised in newspapers. No grounds for objections by claim group members.

Birriah QI2014/080

Registered: 24/04/2015

Votes: Agreement was executed by the parties between 27/09/2014 and 4/11/2014

Notification: 21/01/2015 to 21/04/2015

Advertised (notice of application to register an ILUA): 14/01/15

Jannga/Bulganunna QI2014/065

Registered: 05/01/15

Votes: Agreement was executed by parties on 4/07/2014 and 6/08/2014

Notification: 28/11/14 to 29/12/14

Advertised: Body Corporate Agreement. Not advertised in newspapers. No grounds for objections by claim group members.

Armed with the 6 execution dates for the three NGBR ILUAs I was able to find notices published in the Koori Mail on two dates in 2014. These notices relate to the Juru and Birriah people information sessions and/or authorisation meetings. I was not able to find public notices for the Jannga/Bulganunna authorisation meetings.

Juru

The July 30, 2014 public notice of information sessions in the Koori Mail for the Juru ILUA with Adani relating to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project lists August 5, 2014 as an information session date but not an authorisation meeting. No authorisation meeting dates are specified. No mention is made of any dates scheduled for the September 16 execution meeting.

Here’s is a statement from the July 30, 2014 public notice that clearly reinforces that the dates indicated are specifically for “information sessions”.

Under the Native Title (Prescribed Bodies Corporate) Regulations 1999 (Cth) Kyburra cannot make a decision to enter into the ILUA unless it has consulted with and obtained the consent of the Juru People to enter into the ILUA. Kyburra must also consult with and consider the views of the native title representative body for the ILUA Project. Kyburra and Adani have organised a number of consultation and consent information sessions (Information Sessions) for the Juru People to attend for this purpose.” (21)

Birriah

There were three public notices of information sessions and authorisation meetings for the Birriah People placed in the Koori Mail on September 10, 2014.

The three public notices relating to Birriah information sessions, a reformulation meeting, and authorisation meetings carried similar headlines texts.

Public notice 1.

PUBLIC NOTICE OF AUTHORISATION MEETING TO CONSIDER PROPOSED INDIGENOUS LAND USE AGREEMENT (AREA AGREEMENT) UNDER THE NATIVE TITLE ACT 1993 (CTH)

Public notice 2

BIRRIAH NATIVE TITLE CLAIM GROUP NATIVE TITLE AUTHORISATION MEETINGS

Public notice 3

BIRRIAH PEOPLE NATIVE TITLE MEETING TO AUTHORISE INDIGENOUS LAND USE AGREEMENTS

Public notice 1 lists the authorisation meeting as September 27, 2014 while public notice 2 and 3 list the authorisation meeting as September 28, 2014.

Public notice 2 lists two meetings, the first of which is a reformulation meeting to change the apical ancestor list. The current and proposed apical ancestor lists are provided in all three notices.

Public notice 3 lists the start time of the authorisation meeting as 8.30am which is the same time listed in public notice 2 as the starting time for the reformulation meeting.

Public notice 2 outlines the order of proceedings as the reformulation meeting followed by the authorisation meeting for those still deemed to have an apical ancestor.

Meeting 2 – Meeting of the reformulated Birriah Native Title Claim Group If a decision is made to change the description of the Birriah Native Title Claim Group a further meeting of the re-formulated claim group will be held immediately following Meeting 1 for the purpose of authorising an Applicant to deal with all matters arising in relation to the Native Title Claim. Note: If the proposed amendments to the description of the native title claim group are authorised at Meeting 1, then only persons who fall within the re-formulated claim group description may participate in Meeting 2.” (22)

No mention is made in the Birriah public notices of any authorisation meetings scheduled for November 4, 2014.

A public notice announcing that an application to register an area agreement on the Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements was issued in the Koori Mail on January 14, 2015. Here’s a quote from that notice indicating the a Birriah Traditional Owner could not make an objection to the registration of an ILUA in this particular circumstance unless they made a registered native title determination application during the notification period.

Responses to an application to register an ILUA—where the application has not been certified: Because this application for registration of the agreement has not been certified by the Representative Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Body/ies for the area, there is no opportunity to make a formal objection to its registration. However, if you claim to hold native title in relation to any of the land or waters covered by this agreement, you may wish, within the notice period, to make a native title determination application or equivalent application under a law of a state or territory in respect of any part of the area. The application must be made by 21 April 2015. If that application is registered on the Register of Native Title Claims, the registered native title claimants must be a party to this agreement before it can be registered.” (23)

(c) Theme three: Non PBCs/RNTBCs making ILUAs.

I’ve identified two occasions in the negotiation of ILUAs relating to the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex when Traditional Owners have been represented in ILUA negotiations by groups that are not the claim group, Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) or the Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC).

This raises some serious questions about the oversight of the NNTT. While I’m no expert on native title, it seems to me that the claim group ought to be represented by bodies that are subject to regulation by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) and were incorporated for the specific purpose of making native title claims and negotiating with parties on behalf of the claim group defined under the native title system.

Juru Enterprises Limited

Juru Enterprises Limited made an ILUA with Adani in January of 2014. The Juru RNTBC, KMYAC were not a party to this ILUA.

The title of the ILUA isJuru People and Adani Abbot Point Terminal ILUA’. NNTT number: QI2013/036 (24)

Juru Enterprises Limited and Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation are currently in pre-hearing case management in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Case management hearings are being presided over by Justice Steven Rares. (25)

From my research only Geoff Egan, a reporter from Central Queensland is the only person to write about these proceedings in a piece titled ‘Juru missed out on $1m from Adani: court’. (26)

The Queensland Department of State Development Annual Report 2016/17 mentions Juru Enterprises Limited.

Work is also continuing with the local native title group, through Juru Enterprises Limited, to provide further skills and capacity building while undertaking land management activities within the Abbot Point SDA.” (27)

WJ Corporation

Kate Arnautovic’s honours these provides are very useful background on negotiations between the Wangan and Jagalingou People and Adani. The quote below should interest anyone who is concerned with transparent agreement making during the pre-determination phase.

In December 2012, Adani attempted to sideline the authority of the applicants and seek authorisation from the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (WJ Corporation). The WJ Corporation is a representative body with a board of Wangan and Jagalingou family representatives (Adani Mining v. Jessie Diver & Others, 2013). While its membership is comprised of many Wangan and Jagalingou claimants, it also represents people who are not claimants. Patrick Malone told the NNTT that the membership of the WJ Corporation included ‘large numbers’ of people who were not descendants of the 12 families that constitute the claim group (Adani Mining v. Jessie Diver & Others, 2013).” (28)

References

(1) O’Faircheallaigh, Ciaran. ‘Mining royalties and Aboriginal autonomy’. Distinguished Lecture presented by the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University. 9 August 2017 (Broadcast ABC Radio National: September 13, 2017).

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/mining-royalties-and-aboriginal-autonomy/8808038

(2) Swifte, Michael. ‘Australia’s climate movement has been bought for a pittance.’ Blog: We Suspect Silence, May 13, 2014.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/australias-climate-movement-has-been-bought-for-a-pittance/

(3) Goff, Stan. ‘On Strategy, Tactics & Intelligence’. Huffington Post: The Blog.

Originally published February 1, 2007. Updated May 25, 2011. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/stan-goff/on-strategy-tactics-intel_b_40222.html

(4) Swifte, Michael. ‘The National Native Title Tribunal: Arbiter or “record keeper”?’ Blog: We Suspect Silence, May 10, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/the-national-native-title-tribunal-arbiter-or-record-keeper/

(5) Swifte, Michael. ‘Confirmation that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the Adani rail project being considered by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility’. Blog: We Suspect Silence, September 8, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/confirmation-that-the-north-galilee-basin-rail-project-is-the-adani-rail-project-being-considered-by-the-north-australia-infrastructure-facility/

(6) Swifte, Michael. ‘Unpacking the Galilee Basin shell game’. Blog: We Suspect Silence, December 24, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/unpacking-the-galilee-basin-shell-game/

(7) Greenpeace Australia Pacific. ‘Off Track: Why NAIF can’t approve the Carmichael Rail Project’. December 2016.

https://d68ej2dhhub09.cloudfront.net/2021-Off_Track_-_Why_NAIF_can%E2%80%99t_approve_the_Carmichael_Rail_Project_(web_version).pdf

(8) Lyons, Kristen, Brigg, Morgan, and Quiggin, John. ‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS: ADANI, THE STATE, AND THE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU TRADITIONAL OWNERS COUNCIL’. 2017.

http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/Unfinished-Business.pdf

(9) Swifte, Michael. ‘Why is there so much silence around the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and related Indigenous Land Use Agreements?’. Blog: We Suspect Silence, February 17, 2017. https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/why-is-there-so-much-silence-around-the-north-galilee-basin-rail-project-and-related-indigenous-land-use-agreements/

(10) National Native Title Tribunal: Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreement Details. ‘QI2014/072 – Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA’. November 24, 2014.

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/072

(11) National Native Title Tribunal: Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreement Details.

‘QI2014/080 – Birriah People and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA’. April 24, 2015.

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/080

(12) National Native Title Tribunal: Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreement Details.

‘QI2014/065 – Bulganunna Aboriginal Corporation and Adani Mining Carmichael North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA’. January 5, 2015.

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/065

(13) Queensland Treasury: RTI disclosure log – 2016 and earlier. RTI 493. Disclosure made to Jeremy Tager at the North Queensland Conservation Council. Released December 17, 2014.

https://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/about-treasury/right-to-information/previous-disclosure-log-php/

(14) Swifte, Michael. ‘Only a “standard gauge” rail line will deliver the economies of scale to open up the Galilee Basin’. Blog: We Suspect Silence. April 14, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/only-a-standard-gauge-rail-line-will-deliver-the-economies-of-scale-to-open-up-the-galilee-basin/

(15) Roe, Isobel. ‘Native title holders lodge objection to proposed North Galilee Basin rail project’. ABC News. October 20, 2014.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/native-title-holders-lodge-objection-to-proposed/5826168

(16) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. May 10, 2017.

(17) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. May 10, 2017 and May 23, 2017.

(18) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. October 18, 2017.

(19) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. (multiple occasions in late 2016 and 2017).

(20) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. October 18, 2017.

(21) Koori Mail. Ed 581. July 30, 2014.

https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/digitised_collections/the_koori_mail/581.pdf?width=900&height=800&iframe=true

(22) Koori Mail. Ed 584. September 10, 2014. https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/digitised_collections/the_koori_mail/584.pdf?width=900&height=800&iframe=true

(23) Koori Mail. Ed 592. January 14, 2015. https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/digitised_collections/the_koori_mail/592.pdf?width=900&height=800&iframe=true

(24) National Native Title Tribunal. Extract from Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements. ‘Juru People and Adani Abbot Point Terminal ILUA’. January 20, 2014. http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/ILUA%20Register/2013/QI2013.036/ILUARegisterExport.pdf

(25) Federal Court of Australia, Queensland Registry. File number: QUD244/2017. JURU ENTERPRISE LIMITED v ADANI AUSTRALIA COMPANY PTY LTD ABN 87 163 221 609 AS TRUSTEE OF ADANI AUSTRALIA HOLDING TRUST& ANOR. Updated February 8, 2018. https://www.comcourts.gov.au/file/Federal/P/QUD244/2017/actions

(26) Egan, Geoff. The Morning Bulletin. ‘Juru missed out on $1m from Adani: court’. June 1, 2017. https://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/juru-missed-out-on-1m-from-adani-court/3184689/

(27) Queensland Government. Department of State Development. Annual Report 2016-2017. http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/TabledPapers/2017/5517T1706.pdf

(28) Arnautovic, K. (2017). Resources, race and rights: A case study of Native Title and the Adani Carmichael coal mine. Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/1503

Unpacking the Galilee Basin shell game

The “Carmichael Rail Project” listed on the Adani Australia website is a fiction. There is no such project listed with the Queensland Department of State Development. The “Carmichael Rail Project” is the fusion of the mine access rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, and the North Galilee Basin Rail Project.

screenshot.622

State Development map showing the west-east rail corridor for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project.

screenshot.623

State Development map showing the North Galilee Basin Rail Project corridor.

Galilee_Carmichael+Rail+Network

Part of the rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (78 km) added to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (310 km) equals the “Carmichael Rail Project” (388 km), but that’s not the project name on this map.

The Adani Australia website lists three projects in Australia: the Carmichael Coal Mine, the Carmichael Rail Project, and Adani Abbot Point Terminal O. The links provided for the “Carmichael Mine Project” list the project as the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, and the links for the “Carmichael Rail Project” list the project as the North Galilee Basin Rail Project.

screenshot.608

The 2 Carmichael projects are misnamed. These project names are not the names listed with the Queensland Department of State Development.

The Queensland Department of State Development website lists the length of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project as 310 kms while the Adani website lists the length of the “Carmichael Rail Project” as 388 kms. The other 78 kms could only come from part of the rail corridor providing mine access to the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project

mine_project_description_pdf

This map appears in the “Mine Location” subsection of the “Carmichael Coal Mine” section of the Adani Australia website. Interestingly the Adani brand and the name ‘Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project’ don’t appear on this map.

In my blog post The Galilee Basin Shell Game Continues I explained how ACIL Allen who prepared the Australian Conservation Foundation’s report for the senate NAIF inquiry broke down the numbers for the rail corridor length. They did not provide any references for these calculations or their certainty regarding the name of the rail project in line for the NAIF loan.

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 ACIL Allen report can be downloaded at this link: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/NAIF/Submissions

Another clue to the source of the 78 km figure may be in the document called Species Management Plan – Carmichael Rail Network SP1 prepared for Adani by Eco Logical Australia. This document can be located on the Adani Australia website in the “Carmichael Coal Project” section, in a table contained in the “Plans, Reports and Programs” subsection.

1. Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, comprising the Carmichael Coal Mine and 77 km of rail line known as Separable Portion 1 (SP1)
2. North Galilee Basin Rail (NGBR) Project, comprising 311 km of rail from the connection with SP1 to the Port of Abbot Point.

It seems that some time before May 2016 when the Eco Logical Australia ‘Species Management Plan’ was published and after a document with the short title Mistake Creek Water Application was published in September 2013, the distance of Separable Portion 1 was changed from roughly 120 km to 77 km.

The rail line is divided into several different portions. This application is concerned only with Separable Portion 1 (SP1), which is known as ‘west rail’ which traverses approximately 120km from the Carmichael Coal Mine (mining lease area) east towards Moranbah.

screenshot.635

A map of the roughly 120 km Separable Portion 1 rail corridor as at September 2013.

At the heart of the Galilee Basin shell game are manipulations of nomenclature and information architecture by Adani Australia. Naming systems and the way supposed facts have been organised have helped shape the public perception on the coal complex development. It seems the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project is really just a coal mine with the usual rail access. The 189 km west to east rail corridor indicated on the map in the ‘Mine Location’ sub-section of the “Carmichael Coal Mine” section of the Adani Australia website is never mentioned in either the “Carmichael Coal Mine” or “Carmichael Rail Project” sections. It seems that 111 km of those 189 km were dispensable. I’m sure the old aficionados of the shell game had a name for that move.

By omission, and by manipulation of project names, Adani Australia have constructed text that masks the true nature of the rail components of two projects listed with the Queensland Department of State Development. The actual names of the projects don’t appear in the relevant section of the Adani Australia website, and the rail corridor distances listed with State Development don’t appear either.

The text Adani Australia have constructed is designed to feed cut n paste journalism ensuring that key search terms don’t enter the general consciousness. The Adani Australia website is a primary source for the purposes of reporting on the Galilee Basin coal complex. The manipulation of project names and rail corridor distances limits members of the general public from possessing either the key terms for research and the key pieces of information to consider what might be happening on the ground in a crucial component of the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex.

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

 

 

 

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.

Podesta’s Aussie Players: Why the climate movement misunderstands “clean energy”

In my November 2016 post titled “Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke I explained how the development of carbon capture and storage has been helped along by a global group of leaders working under the banner of “clean energy”.

“There is a global group called the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) which holds forums, events and discussions for energy ministers and secretaries. Within this arrangement there is the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, this is where the real “clean energy” action happens.”

Martin Ferguson attended these forums when he was resources minister. He also launched the project which he now chairs called CO2-CRC which is currently pumping CO2 under the Otway Ranges.

The term “clean energy” has been promulgated by the agents of financial elites since at least 2006 when the Clinton Global Initiative – Annual Meeting hosted a two-part panel discussion, moderated by John Podesta and titled ‘Energy and Climate Change: Financing Clean Energy’. The first portion of the panel discussion was titled ‘Clean Energy Investment Boom’ and featured Goldman Sachs economist Abby Joseph Cohen, venture capitalist John Doerr, and carbon trader extraordinaire John Paul Moscarella.

The ClimateWorks Foundation is John Podesta’s baby. He developed its networks into political and financial elite circles including the think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies who in 2007 published a report titled ‘The Age of Consequences” in which Podesta coauthored a section with his colleague at the Center for American Progress Peter Ogden titled ‘Security Implications of Climate Scenario 1: Expected Climate Change Over Next 30 Years’.

“Rather, the question is whether coal will continue to be a driver of climate change or if the development and implementation of clean coal and, in particular, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology can make it a viable fuel source in a carbon-constrained economy. A 2007 MIT study, “The Future of Coal,” found that, in spite of the lead times involved, CCS technology can in fact be deployed on a wide enough scale to reduce significantly the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2050, though only if a global carbon emissions restriction or tax is in place and near-term government investment in R&D is increased.”

Earlier in 2007 the Climateworks Foundation published a report titled ‘DESIGN TO WIN PHILANTHROPY’S ROLE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING’. In the section titled ‘Dethroning King Coal’ we find a planned capitulation to the might of coal – if only we can find a way to sequester the CO2.

“Reduce emissions from unavoidable coal through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Even under the sunniest of scenarios, efficiency gains and expanded use of alternative energy sources won’t displace enough coal in the next two decades to forestall catastrophic climate change, so we must find a way to separate CO2 emissions from coal plants and store them beneath the earth. CCS, which remains in its infancy, deserves a critical push from philanthropy so that it can be rapidly deployed where demand for coal power is the greatest.”

 

Who are Podesta’s players?

Anna Skarbek is the CEO of ClimateWorks Australia and board member of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. In her 2014 article written for The Conversation titled ‘Direct Action’s here, but how will Australia cut carbon after 2020?’ she echoed the broad vision articulated by John Podesta in 2007. You can see her extensive networks here.

“Alternatively, a mix of renewables, carbon capture and storage and/or nuclear could be used. This low carbon electricity could then replace petrol and diesel in cars and passenger transport and replace gas used for cooking, heating and cooling buildings. Gas would be used in trucks replacing diesel, and gas would be the main fossil fuel used in industry. Some of this can be shifted to bioenergy or sequestered with carbon capture and storage, and the rest sequestered with carbon forestry.”

In the disclosure statement Skarbek reveals at least one very hawkish financial supporter.

“Anna Skarbek works for ClimateWorks which is funded by philanthropy and Monash University. Additional funding was received for the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project from ARENA, Accenture, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, TransGrid and the Mullum Trust.”

The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute is an unabashed supporter of all new carbon capture and storage projects especially coal and enhanced oil recovery projects. This organisation is based in Australia and is the acknowledged leader in supporting the development of carbon capture and storage globally.

In 2016 Skarbek was invited by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) to join its ‘Leadership Forum on Energy Transition for Australia’ along with 2 members of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The forum was charged with developing a “blueprint for energy transition”, and very much like the Australian Renewable Energy Agency the plan is to manage the “transition”. The kind of transition Skarbek advocates requires a decades long (minimum) phase of transition in order to develop the necessary renewables.  This transition phase would be comprised of a massive growth in ‘clean coal’, “clean gas”, industrial CCS for oil refineries and CO2 utilization projects, CO2 enhanced oil recovery, biomass (wood chip) burning, deep-sea storage, and saline aquifer storage.

The ACF are the current lead agency in the #StopAdani coalition. This puts them squarely in the field of climate activism. It is only possible for ACF to support the development of a blueprint that will influence the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because ACF and their allies in the climate movement do not acknowledge the reality of “clean energy”.

John Hepburn is the founder and executive director of the Sunrise Project, he is also a coauthor of the 2010 impact funded climate activism plan called ‘Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom’. The Sunrise Project is funded by a collection of foundations lead by the Sandler Foundation and specialist impact funders all connected to John Podesta and the ClimateWorks Foundation. Email exchanges between Hepburn and various Sandler Foundation officials revealed in the Wikileaks Podesta Emails show a high commitment to masking the source of funding for the Sunrise Project which seems to be the real strategic centre of climate activism. In an email to Sandler Foundation colleagues that was forwarded to John Podesta, Hepburn’s contact Sergio Knaebel made this investor like statement about the Sunrise Project.

“I’m starting to think that our high tolerance for risk on this project is paying off!”

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/13538

In another email that passed through Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth, and philanthropist and former banker Herbert Sandler before it found its way to Podesta, Hepburn explains in colourful terms how much he would like to not reveal the organisation’s funding.

“4. If I refuse, the maximum penalty is 6 months in jail. If I didn’t have children I’d be happy to tell them where to go (on principle) but it isn’t really an option;

5. This potentially creates a situation where we may need to disclose our funding and grant agreements;”

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/18938

 

Calling the shots.

In my November 2016 post titled “Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke I described “clean energy” like this:

““Clean Energy” is a rhetorical device of unprecedented scope. A poorly defined but effective shield for any pundit, mouthpiece or messaging agent to use when speaking of a seemingly uncertain energy future.”

Yesterday’s statements by Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg reveal just how crucial our perception and understanding of “clean energy” is in manufacturing consent for carbon capture and storage. This statement by the Frydenberg is the most telling.

“The CEFC is after all not the renewable energy finance corporation, but one that is explicitly encouraged under part six of the Act to also invest in energy efficiency and low emission alternatives.”

Yes, “clean energy” is not the same as renewable energy. They are not interchangeable terms, but you could be forgiven for thinking they were. Nobody has taken it upon themselves to explain the difference because there is no gain to be made from doing so. The climate movement in its various forms have no interest in revealing the pre-emptive capitulations of those who make high level funding decisions. John Podesta sits at the wellspring of funding for climate activism and the political will for clean energy finance, and has done so for more than a decade. The sooner we can recognise and sideline the organisations and players he has helped install the sooner we can begin to seriously fight the development of the Galilee basin.

Only a “standard gauge” rail line will deliver the economies of scale to open up the Galilee Basin.

In 2014 David Quinn was the Executive Director of Projects Queensland in Queensland Treasury. He was responsible for all coordinated projects worth more than 50 million AUD.

In a right to information request (RTI) disclosure made to Jeremy Tager at the North Queensland Conservation Council (RTI 493) David Quinn explains how the unspecified Galilee Basin rail project was “standard gauge” and that this was the key to “get the economies of scale”.

There are 2 rail projects proposed by Adani, the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the one listed as “standard gauge”. It is a greenfield project that will vertically integrate Adani into the Galilee Basin coal complex providing rail infrastructure for several other mines for decades. The other rail project proposed by Adani is part of the Carmichael mine application. It is listed as “dual gauge” and is designed to connect to the existing narrow gauge system.

Here’s the full quote from David Quinn in RTI NQC493:

 “The other issue here is that it is standard gauge which in a Qld sense is bespoke but makes sense for Galilee due to the need to transport the higher tonnages to offset the longer distances to get the economies of scale.

The benefit if it could be realised is the reasons you have previously outlined in that it becomes a vital piece of infrastructure, underwritten by ToP (noting the aversion of miners to this once common contractual arrangement) and that we would not drop a sleeper onto the ground until the Adani’s, GVK’s et are well and truly committed. Certainly a more liquid asset to allow our exit in the future.”

David Quinn NQC493 scale

Adani have a tendency to telegraph their announcements through exclusives with large newspapers like the Courier Mail and India’s Economic Times. It was through a Courier Mail exclusive that we learned about the 1 billion dollar NAIF loan and for which rail project it had been earmarked.

Renee Viellaris in The Courier Mail:

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility has ticked off conditional approval for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and will now undertake more detailed assessments of the project. “

While the Queensland premier was visiting India recently the Economic Times printed part of a statement from Adani. This statement, while widely syndicated across English language media in India, was never picked up in Australia.

Debjoy Sengupta quoting Adani in The Economic Times:

Our vision is to operate a vertically integrated model – with the extraction of coal from our Carmichael Mine, transported by rail to Abbot Point, and exported to meet consumer and business demands in offshore markets. The project will build Australia’s largest thermal coal mine in the north Galilee Basin approximately 160km north-west of Clermont in Central Queensland, linked by a standard gauge North Galilee Basin Rail Line to two terminals at Abbot Point Port near Bowen,”

Why would the media in Australia ignore such a clear statement in favour of a specific piece of infrastructure that is under constant discussion here in Australia? One of the reasons is because they can, because no official media release is publicly available, and because the statement quoted in The Economic Times is a compromised primary source that can be easily ignored.

Either way the Adani quote specifies a “a standard gauge North Galilee Basin Rail Line” for a reason and that reason could well be because they want the market in India to feel confident that they are serious about having a vertically integrated model”. 

My current crowdfunding campaign is about digging up more answers by going back to a successful Qld Treasury RTI disclosure from 2014 on which the processing charge had never been paid. Treasury RTI 488.

RTI requests are all about the particulars of language.

Text of the RTI request:

All documents relating to the announcement on November 17th in relation to the Infrastructure Enabling Agreement, including but not limited to the decision to provide Queensland government funding to facilitate Adani Mining Pty Ltd’s North Galilee Basin Rail project, including correspondence with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Queensland Treasury, or Adani Mining Pty Ltd, its related entities or agents for the period from 1 September 2014 to 9 December 2014.”

Text of Treasury response:

Decision made. Applicant did not pay the processing charges within required timeframe. Documents available upon payment of the processing charges of $509.20. Please contact the Administrative Review Unit on (07) 3035 1863 or by email rti@treasury.qld.gov.au if you wish to access these documents.”

Here’s a link to my crowdfunding campaign:

https://chuffed.org/project/50920-to-disclose-some-truths-about-adanis-rail-plans