Bravus: Adani Australia’s blanket brand

Entities exist for reasons

It is crucial at this moment that we understand that Adani’s web of shell companies in Australia exist for reasons unknown, but comprehensible if we can get answers to the right questions. Adani entities such as Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd and Adani Infrastructure Pty Ltd are enmeshed in Adani’s dealings over the rail corridor which is nearing completion, and the North Galilee Water Scheme which is under review. Adani Australia entities can refer to either of these 2 former shell companies as ‘Bravus’ in their communications on their website and in media statements under the language and framing contained in the Bravus privacy policy.

Exoneration mechanisms

Over the last 6 months I have sought answers to questions about the Adani entity names used in communications from the Queensland government department responsible for coordinating and regulating development projects and proponents including mining companies – the Office of the Coordinator-General (OCG). I made requests for clarification and information to a communications officer, but I was given a flat refusal. I submitted a complaint regarding ethical conduct of the officer and the department itself, sought an internal review, and then an external review with the Queensland Ombudsman. None of my efforts were successful.

After what I can only describe as a chain of exoneration and obfuscation where I am left with more questions than answers, I can make one clear statement:

The OCG are confident that they can refer to ‘Bravus’ rather than the listed proponents in their communications and in the commissioning of reports without consequence.

It might reasonably be expected that the OCG would use the names of the Adani entities it coordinates under the State Development and Public Works Organisations Act (SDPWO Act) in its communications, but a recent report on an investigation into allegations of environmental breaches on the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) failed to identify Adani’s rail proponent or name the project where the alleged breaches took place and physical inspections had been conducted (including OCG staff). I wrote about how the OCG were “masking” the relevant project proponents in March and again in May this year.

The Office of the Coordinator-General and Adani: Masking the rail proponent

A very questionable investigation: The OCG, Adani and public sector ethics in Queensland

24 Adani entities

How is it that a business name that is the product of re-branding came to be used as a substitute for the specific entities coordinated and regulated by the OCG? Why do media and NGOs take little to no interest in unpacking Adani’s corporate structure and branding? The answer to both questions starts with a look at the Bravus Mining and Resources website.

The Bravus privacy policy is effectively a guide to understanding the language in Bravus branded communications. It frames what is meant when “we” or “us” statements are used.

At Bravus Mining & Resources (being one or more of the companies listed in the Appendix at the end of this privacy policy) (“Bravus Mining & Resources”), we are committed to protecting your privacy.


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https://www.bravus.com.au/privacy-policy/

Cached version of Bravus privacy policy page:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:https://www.bravus.com.au/privacy-policy

The appendix to the Bravus privacy policy lists 24 different Adani entities, none of which are ‘Bravus Mining and Resources’ which is listed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as a business name with no ABN or ACN listed. Among those 24 different Adani entities are Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd who possess all the rail approvals, are in line for a water licence, are responsible for the CCMR – Separable Portion 1/Stage B – North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS) pipeline corridor, were the likely NAIF loan applicant, and are said to possess the royalty deed for the Carmichael mine; and Adani Infrastructure Pty Ltd who were central to the NGWS which is currently under review.

Quote from the Bravus privacy policy:

Appendix – Adani companies in Australia, which collect and use personal information

This list is accurate at the date of this privacy policy. For the latest list of Adani companies to which this privacy policy applies please contact our Privacy Officer.

MUNDRA PORT PTY LTD 61 150 498 098 150 498 098

ADANI ABBOT POINT TERMINAL PTY LTD 93 149 298 206 149 298 206

MUNDRA PORT HOLDINGS PTY LTD 94 150 520 835 150 520 835

MUNDRA PORT HOLDINGS TRUST 34 296 288 922 N/A

ADANI ABBOT POINT TERMINAL HOLDINGS PTY 17 154 644 685 154 644 685

ADANI MINING PTY LTD 27 145 455 205 145 455 205

ADANI MINERALS PTY LTD 32 151 649 740 151 649 740

GALILEE TRANSMISSION HOLDINGS PTY LTD 83 161 992 481 161 992 481

GALILEE TRANSMISSION PTY LTD 32 161 992 641 161 992 641

GALILEE TRANSMISSION HOLDINGS TRUST 98 979 077 365 N/A

ADANI AUSTRALIA COAL TERMINAL PTY LTD 77 163 186 383 163 186 383

ADANI AUSTRALIA COAL TERMINAL HOLDINGS 44 168 582 045 168 582 045

ADANI ABBOT POINT COMPANY PTY LTD 77 163 218 335 163 218 335

ADANI AUSTRALIA COMPANY PTY LTD 87 163 221 609 163 221 609

ADANI AUSTRALIA COAL TERMINAL FINANCE 62 601 738 578 601 738 578

ADANI ABBOT POINT HOLDING TRUST 14 212 294 591 N/A

ADANI AUSTRALIA HOLDING TRUST 80 796 296 329 N/A

CARMICHAEL RAIL PTY LTD 80 601 873 492 601 873 492

CARMICHAEL RAIL HOLDINGS PTY LTD 32 601 738 827 601 738 827

CARMICHAEL RAIL NETWORK PTY LTD 87 601 738 685 601 738 685

CARMICHAEL RAIL NETWORK HOLDINGS PTY 59 601 738 943 601 738 943

CARMICHAEL RAIL NETWORK TRUST 78 466 438 945 N/A

CARMICHAEL RAIL NETWORK HOLDINGS TRUST 52 857 090 548 N/A

ADANI INFRASTRUCTURE PTY LTD 16 606 764 827 606 764 827

Nothing official

When the media, NGO spokespeople and government departments repeat Adani’s statements without questioning if those statements should detail the entities regulated and coordinated under state and federal law, they are failing to properly inform the people. Adani Australia’s re-branding as Bravus was designed to suggest that its marquee company Adani Mining Pty Ltd, holder of the majority of environmental approvals and all Indigenous land use agreements, was the sole subject of the name change. Adani didn’t need to lie (though they kinda did and still kinda are), they simply anticipated the dearth of interrogation from the media and NGOs which allowed suggestion to do the work for them. It fooled me and everyone who wrote about the Bravus re-branding.

The Adani Mining Pty Ltd ASIC listing does not specify that they are trading as ‘Bravus Mining and Resources’. Adani Mining Pty Ltd are still the EPBC approval holder for both the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) and the North Galilee Basin Rail Project, and hold all Indigenous land use agreements. The introduction of the ‘Bravus Mining and Resources’ business name/brand was not accompanied by any change of name on any documents on the public record.

A statement can be found below Adani media releases hosted on the Bravus website that predate the branding exercise. This statement asserts that the name of “Adani Mining” which we can reasonably assume is a reference to “Adani Mining Pty Ltd” was “officially changed” to “Bravus Mining and Resources”.

On November 5th, Adani Mining officially changed it’s name to Bravus Mining and Resources.


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https://www.bravus.com.au/adani-partners-with-decmil-in-another-win-for-regional-queensland/

Recent changes

Sometime between September 19, 2021 and October 23, 2021, the ASIC listing for Bravus Mining and Resources was amended to include the details of the business name holder, Adani Mining Pty Ltd, including an ABN, and a business and mailing address. I was able to establish this fact by comparing ASIC summaries downloaded on the dates listed. The amended ASIC listing is the first piece of evidence placed on the public record showing that Adani Mining Pty Ltd has an official connection to the Bravus Mining and Resources business name. It raises the question of why Adani Mining Pty Ltd took 11 months to include basic information about its new business name on the public record. Perhaps they saw the tweet I sent to Ben Smee on September 21 or the email I sent to an Adani legal counsel on September 20?

A comparison of ASIC summaries showing recently amended information

The law and proper communications

While the government departments have built-in exoneration mechanisms, the media and NGO spokespeople can choose to take a more interrogatory approach that takes account of the web of Adani entities that exist under the Bravus brand. In theory this is the professional responsibility of journalists and their editors, and should be the imperative reflected in the output of various NGOs. Think tanks and environmental law firms should be the leaders in this regard, but they are not. I suspect this is because narrative framing and funding for particular themed campaigns has left the NGO sector without the necessary agility to identify and respond to Adani’s marketing strategies. In the process of failing to interrogate Adani’s branding the environmental NGOs and the media leave us all misinformed. In adopting the branded nomenclature of ‘Bravus’ over the names of the Adani entities coordinated and regulated under Queensland legislation, the OCG have allowed the Bravus re-branding to determine their communications.

A very questionable investigation: The OCG, Adani and public sector ethics in Queensland

Context

In March I published a blog post about developments along the Adani rail corridor. I looked closely at the role of the Office of the Coordinator General (OCG) in providing accurate and timely information to the public regarding Adani’s rail proponent via media statements and approval milestone documents published at the direction of the premier.

Blog post link: https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2021/03/30/the-office-of-the-coordinator-general-and-adani-masking-the-rail-proponent/

In my March blog post I followed 2 lines of inquiry regarding the Adani proponent for rail, Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRN). The first line of enquiry related to the OCG taking an excessive amount of time to announce that Adani had achieved it’s last approval milestone. The OCG responded by posting an update on the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) “Project overview” web page, but did not provide an explanation for their tardiness. The second line of inquiry related to the OCG statements provided to regional media regarding the Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) & Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) complaint alleging environmental breaches by Adani contractors on the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR). It is this second line of inquiry that I’d like to return to here.

Confused communications

In the 6 weeks between the publication of my March blog post and the announcement that the OCG had completed it’s investigation, I spent my time contacting editors, chiefs of staff, and NGO staff to ask them to look closely at the details in the media reports and statements from the OCG. It is my firm belief that the OCG ought to publish statements and instruct investigators on the basis of its statutory responsibilities. By this I mean that the OCG should always make media statements that reflect the precise nature of the work they do, the projects they coordinate and the relevant proponents for those coordinated projects. My efforts to clarify communications were a complete failure. The Mackay Conservation Group, Environmental Justice Australia, The Courier Mail chief of staff, and ABC editors could have held the OCG to account or at least made specific assertions based on information published by the OCG at any time, but they did not.

My March blog post and my attempts to engage with media, NGOs and the OCG were focused around clarifying 2 facts; that the proponent for the project under investigation is Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd; and that the name of the project is the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. I made the assertion over the phone, via email and through social media that the OCG is an agency with powers to make statutory decisions (under statute, law or legislation) and it ought to use the names of the project and proponent for which they are responsible in all their communications.

The following statement was given to me by an OCG spokesperson on March 23, after they had initiated their investigation and presumably provided instructions to their investigators:

Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was requested to, and did, provide information in relation to the alleged breach of conditions.

This statement alone does not confirm that the OCG were outright lying, but it does confirm what I expect should have taken place administratively under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act (SDPWO Act).

Melanie Whiting’s March 19 article contains the quote for which I sought clarification from the OCG. A comparison of the statement sent to me and the one provided to Melanie Whiting shows that information was requested and received, according to the OCG, by both Bravus Mining and Resources (Bravus) and CRN.

Bravus staff answer the phones and do liaison from the same Brisbane office address they share with CRN. There is no separate contact point or spokesperson for CRN. This suggests to me that the OCG could offer as a defence, the argument that the information itself was passed on by Bravus staff, but relates to CRN:

“Bravus has supplied information requested by the Coordinator-General, including details of the alleged event,” a spokesman for the Office of the Coordinator-General said.

“The Coordinator-General has independently engaged experts in sediment and erosion control and stormwater management to review the information.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2021/03/30/the-office-of-the-coordinator-general-and-adani-masking-the-rail-proponent/

The investigation concludes

On May 19, the day after Melanie Whiting again provided a quote from an OGC spokesperson which suggests that Bravus is responsible for alleged breaches along the NGBR corridor, I contacted the OCG to seek clarification:

I’m requesting a statement from a spokesperson for the CG’s office indicating the Adani proponent to which the Office of the Coordinator General ‘specified’ ‘improvements’.

The statement provided to Melanie Whiting by a spokesperson for the OCG suggests that the rail contractors associated with the alleged breaches are engaged by Bravus, but the public record does not indicate which Adani entity made the contracts with Martinus, Siemens and BMD. All we know is that their contracts are for the ‘Carmichael Rail Network’:

The Office of the Coordinator-General has specified the improvements which Bravus and their contractors need to put in place.

https://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/probe-into-alleged-rail-line-environmental-breach-/4260761/

I provided a question to an OCG Senior Communications Officer after reminding them of the previous statement they had provided to me indicating that they had been in contact with, and received information from CRN:

I’m requesting a statement from a spokesperson for the CG’s office indicating the Adani proponent to which the Office of the Coordinator General ‘specified’ ‘improvements’.

The statement that was emailed to me in response left me perplexed:

The Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRN) is the proponent for the Carmichael Rail Network project. As CRN is a Bravus entity, the Office of the Coordinator-General (OCG) has made reference to Bravus in the OCG’s media response regarding the investigation into erosion and sediment management.

On May 20 I again contacted the OCG Senior Communications Officer to confirm that my understanding of the facts and the functioning of the OCG were correct. I also requested clarification of the reasoning/basis behind the assignation of CRN as a “Bravus entity” along with links/references to any value documents and/or sections in the SDPWO Act that guide the staff of the OCG on the need for accuracy in their communications with the media and the public.

In reply I received a flat refusal to respond to any of my ongoing concerns including those regarding values around accuracy:

We appreciate your ongoing interest but have nothing further to add.

Please refer to our multiple responses since the start of the year.

I immediately followed up the flat refusal with a complaint to the Director of Ethics at People and Performance – Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning. I asked them to consider the ‘Accountability and Transparency’ section of the Code of Conduct for the Queensland public service which quotes Section 9(c) of the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 which reads:

are committed to managing information as openly as practicable within the legal framework; and

https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/accountability-and-transparency-code-conduct

I also reiterated my concerns about the responsibility of the OCG to communicate the actual functions it performs under the SDPWO Act. I highlighted that the Water Technology (WT) report produced under instruction by the OCG was of particular concern:

I would ask that you be mindful of the project names for projects for which the OCG is responsible for coordinating under the SDPWO Act. I would ask that you consider how the OCG may have framed their instructions to Water Technology for their investigation and the impact those instructions may have had on the naming and identification of relevant proponents under the SDPWO Act.

On May 27 I received correspondence from the Assistant Coordinator-General in response to some of my unanswered questions. They were able to confirm that I had my facts right about the relevant proponents and provided me with links to code of conduct documents. I was also provided with a perplexing explanation for the erroneous and misleading title of the WT report:

The report was prepared in response to a review of parts of both the North Galilee Basin Rail project and the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail project. The title of the report reflects the name of the joint proponents.

The reason this explanation perplexes me is that the title of the report contains the name of the mine proponent, not the rail proponent. The assistant CG does not even attend to that issue in their response. Bravus and CRN are joint proponents for the CCMR. CRN were enjoined as a proponent to deliver the rail component of the mine project which connects with the NGBR.

To make things absolutely clear in regard to the OCG’s published statements regarding Bravus and CRN as “joint proponents”; here is a quote from the CCMR *Project overview page that is published under the direction of the OCG:

Proponent

Adani Mining Pty Ltd and Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (joint proponents), both wholly owned subsidiaries of Adani Australia, part of the Adani Group.

https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/coordinator-general/assessments-and-approvals/coordinated-projects/completed-projects/carmichael-coal-mine-and-rail-project

Bravus and CRN are not joint proponents of the ‘Carmichael Rail Network’. CRN are the sole proponent for the NGBR and joint proponent of the CCMR for the purposes of rail.

Here is a succinct description from a reliable source; a Supreme Court of Queensland document from proceedings brought against Ben Pennings, co-founder of Galilee Blockade:

Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (“Carmichael Rail”) is the proponent and developer of a railway, approximately 200 kilometres long, which would connect the mine with the existing rail network in Central Queensland.

https://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2020/QSC20-275.pdf

The Water Technology investigation

It needs to be understood that the WT investigation was primarily concerned with the allegations of environmental breaches along the NGBR corridor made by the Mackay Conservation Group who also urged that “other similar sites” be investigated:

WT have investigated the sites identified by the Mackay Conservation Group and other sites identified in the desktop review.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m_O9MmITyEXb7brkZoPd1b0-_ekZgw2U/view

*The Mackay Conservation Group put out a media release on May 19. You can follow the links to all the important documents from here: https://www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au/calls_to_strengthen_environmental_protection_adani

In the WT report the responsibility for adherence to environmental conditions imposed by the OCG was repeatedly attributed to “Bravus”. The introductory paragraph of the report titled ‘Erosion and Sediment Management Investigation: Carmichael Rail Network – Bravus Mining and Resources’ asserts that the OCG engaged WT to investigate alleged breaches by “Bravus”:

Water Technology (WT) were engaged by the Office of the Coordinator General (OCG) to investigate alleged breaches of legal obligations by Bravus at three locations on the Carmichael Rail Network Corridor to determine if a breach of conditions had occurred. This report details the nature of the alleged breaches and the results of our investigation.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m_O9MmITyEXb7brkZoPd1b0-_ekZgw2U/view

The MCG identified 3 locations within the NGBR corridor, therefore it is clear that the desktop review added the other locations. This would suggest that all or some of the locations identified in the desktop review were located on the CCMR – Separable Portion 1 (SP1) of the combined rail corridor, but the chainages listed that identify the additional locations for on site inspections are found along the NGBR corridor.

The site observations were completed on the 23rd and 24th March 2021 and included the three locations identified for investigation by MCG, and also two additional pre-selected locations by WT and one further location identified during the visit. Additional casual observations of the site works outside of the six specific locations were made during the course of the two-day site observations.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m_O9MmITyEXb7brkZoPd1b0-_ekZgw2U/view

It is likely that the scope of the investigation was widened to include locations along SP1 through the desktop review process. The green section in the map below, which was supplied by WT in their report, is the SP1 section of the CCMR. As you can see, no inspections by the WT team, OCG staff, Adani staff or contractors contractors were made outside of the blue and purple sections which represent the NGBR corridor.

*It’s important to note that the MCG incident report titled ‘Environmental Pollution Incident Report: Adani Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, February 2021’ does not identify the proponent for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. It identifies the wrong project name in the report title and uses the old name for Adani’s mine proponent in the text. Indeed the document is so inaccurate that, while preparing for my previous blog post, I mistook it for a document relating to alleged breaches from 2019.

The opening line in the MCG incident report wrongly identifies the project name:

This report by Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) aims to inform a formal complaint about

erosion and sediment controls failing at the site of the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail

Project in Central Queensland during December 2020.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/dudgeonpointorg/pages/2311/attachments/original/1613606970/Environmental_Pollution_Incident_Report_-January_2021_-_Adani_%28Final%29.pdf?1613606970

This paragraph suggests that the author is not aware that the contiguous rail corridor, known since mid 2018 as ‘Carmichael Rail Network’, is a combination of the NGBR corridor and Separable Portion 1 of the Carmichael mine rail corridor after it was shortened by approximately 110 km some time in 2015-16:

These locations are in the Whitsunday Regional Council area, but sediment and erosion

control management failings may have occurred across the whole of the Adani Carmichael

Coal and Rail Project. Other similar sites should be investigated, including parts of the

project in the Isaac Regional Council area.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/dudgeonpointorg/pages/2311/attachments/original/1613606970/Environmental_Pollution_Incident_Report_-January_2021_-_Adani_%28Final%29.pdf?1613606970

*

The WT report contains a summary of the Mackay Conservation Group incident report. As I mentioned, the MCG report wrongly identifies the relevant proponent, but instead of substituting the actual proponent for the NGBR (CRN) with the incorrectly alleged proponent (Adani Mining), the WT authors substituted the new name for the incorrectly reported proponent (Bravus). It’s hard to imagine how the OCG’s instructions and briefings lead to that substitution decision, but it had the effect of the WT report text not contradicting the media statements made by OCG spokespeople under the principle that “CRN is a Bravus entity”.

Here’s an exemplar of the inaccurate substitutions that WT authors may have been instructed/caused to make by the OCG:

Prosecute of Bravus for breaching their legal obligations in this case.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m_O9MmITyEXb7brkZoPd1b0-_ekZgw2U/view

It’s utterly clear to me that the intent of the MCG incident report and the accompanying letter from the EJA lawyer was that the Queensland government, through it’s relevant departments, conduct an investigation and make enforceable decisions under the relevant legislation to compel the relevant legal entities responsible for projects coordinated under the SDPWO Act to take the necessary measures to comply with existing or newly created environmental conditions. In light of that clear intent: would it not be in the interests of accountability and transparency that investigators are instructed to communicate the correct proponent even when the original incident report was in error?

The WT summary of the MCG incident report contained incorrect assertions of the responsibility of Bravus for alleged breaches. Contrast that against the summary of the EJA letter to Meaghan Scanlon. Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd is specified as the NGBR proponent the EJA letter, but this is not mentioned in the summary. The EJA summary also includes reference to the Riverine Protection Permit Exemption ‘approved entity’ number assigned to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd in 2017, but without mentioning their name.

The only reference to the actual proponent responsible for the allegations that prompted the investigation was made in the WT authors response section:

We note that the Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd were added as approved entity for the purposes of the exemption requirements for a Riverine Protection Permit (Version 1.03) on the 19th of September 2017.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m_O9MmITyEXb7brkZoPd1b0-_ekZgw2U/view

The WT report authors made one reference to the body responsible for Adani’s rail corridor under coordination by the OCG while making dozens of references to the mine proponent Bravus in a report about breaches on a project for which the mine proponent are not responsible under the law. Something seems to be very wrong!

Some analysis

It looks to me that the OCG have consistently made every effort/taken the necessary steps to keep the name of the Adani rail proponent out of the frame to the extent that they are capable of causing the name to be published. I’ve been provided 2 perplexing statements for why the rail proponent name didn’t appear where statements and investigations regarding alleged environmental breaches related to the projects for which CRN are responsible under the SDPWO Act.

A clue to the OCG’s consistency could lie in the phrase “CRN is a Bravus entity”. It may be that the CG has nominated Bravus as the entity responsible for particular imposed environmental conditions under Section 54 of the SDPWO Act. I would direct the reader to section 54A ‘Application of div 8’. If section 54A can be satisfied and section 54B (3) is applied, then section 54V ‘Jurisdiction for conditions’ may allow the Coordinator-General to “nominate an entity that is to have jurisdiction for the condition[s]”.

My investigations thus far have revealed that Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd acquired significant Queensland government approvals and accreditations prior to the OCG changing the listed Adani proponent for the NGBR and rail component of the CCMR in June 2018. CRN made the AECOM contract, changed ultimate holding companies, and were mentioned in the North Galilee Water Scheme application documents as the Adani proponent for rail all while the NAIF controversy raged.

My working theory is that the Coordinator-General permitted Adani to install a new proponent without generating a public notice of any kind. I have checked my interpretation of the SDPWO Act with a staffer at the OCG and it is highly likely that with a single email to Adani Mining Pty Ltd the CG was able to facilitate ‘Change Request 1’ under sections 27AE and 35G of the SDPWO Act.

To put it in plain language: Under the act, if the CG decides that a request for a project change is unproblematic, they need not add anything to the public record. With a single email the CG was able to give Adani Mining Pty Ltd unlimited time operating with an unannounced proponent before causing information confirming a change of proponent to appear.

The working theory that I outlined in the last 2 paragraphs is based not only on research and right to information disclosures, but also on a conversation I had with senior project managers within the OCG. In September 2018 upon my discovering the change of listed proponent, I received a conference call from Karen Oakley and Heather Lopez; both project managers from the OCG. They asked me about my blog and mentioned that the CG had made a “statutory decision” giving Adani “unlimited time”.

Controversies and conclusions

With the recent federal court decision on the North Galilee Water Scheme (NGWS) there is likely to be a high level of scrutiny applied to the “water trigger”. Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd, as the mine rail proponent, are responsible for Separable Portion 1 which is also the NGWS ‘Stage B’ pipeline corridor. CRN are currently listed as a “prescribed entity” in the Queensland Water Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2020 for the purposes of obtaining a water licence to add to their extensive accreditations and approvals. CRN are enmeshed into the scheme having been included in NGWS application documents and identified as the Adani rail proponent 18 months before their existence as the Adani rail proponent was ever acknowledged publicly.

The federal environment department is currently investigating a complaint regarding ‘Borrow Pit 7’ a quarry used to support the building of the rail corridor. No party involved in the making the complaint, conducting the investigation or reporting on it have been prepared to explicitly name the proponent responsible. As usual the media reports suggest Bravus is responsible with journalists like Ben Smee continuing to assert that Adani became ‘Bravus’ which is an inaccurate simplification of the re-branding of Adani Mining Pty Ltd after it had parcelled off it’s rail corridor to the former shell company, Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd.

As this giant coordinated project gets built and the environmental complaints roll in; agencies like the Office of the Coordinator-General will continue in their patterns of apparent prevarication; young journalists will obey their chiefs of staff and write what is expected and efficient; and NGO operatives will continue to labour under the capacity constraints and narratives that are assigned and reinforced by the philanthropically funded members of the StopAdani alliance. This is not the time to serve a narrative. It’s the time to speak the truth forcefully.

The Office of the Coordinator-General and Adani: Masking the rail proponent

I spent a good chunk of last week pestering the slow moving media officer at the Queensland Office of the Coordinator-General to explain why they were three months late updating the public on the final approval/milestone for the Adani Carmichael project, and why they recently gave NewsCorp a statement that I would describe as misleading in regard to the entity that is actually responsible for alleged breaches along the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) corridor. In the end they provided me with a statement that indicated they received a February update from Adani, and a statement that correctly identifies the Adani entity responsible for the alleged breaches, Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRN).

Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd – Rolling Stock Operator accreditation

To my mind the reason the approvals/milestones updates provided by the Office of the Coordinator-General are significant and require timely publication is because the Carmichael mine, rail corridor, port and other associated infrastructure represent an unprecedented conglomeration of projects overseen by a coordinator-general (CG) with unprecedented powers under the State Development and Public Works Act 1971.

In May 2019 the Queensland premier directed the Office of the Coordinator-General to monitor and expedite approvals. Part of their response was to provide updates to approvals in the form of a PDF hosted at the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) webpage.

It is my reasonable contention that the general public would expect that updates are timely and accurate, and include all the relevant details such as the Adani proponent responsible for any particular approval. I have been unable to get clarification from the CG’s office as to why Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd are not mentioned in any of the update PDFs.

Here’s how the ABC reported the premier’s directive to the coordinator-general in 2019:

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has asked the Coordinator-General to oversee the approvals process for the Adani coal project saying both she and the community were “fed up” with waiting for the department to approve the Indian mining company’s environmental management plans.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-22/adani-approvals-removal-environment-department/11138140

Approvals/milestones updates relate to both projects CCMR and NGBR but are only listed on the CCMR webpage and CRN are not mentioned in the updates.

The statement provided by the CG’s office in the October 2020 update document in association with rail approvals could have indicated which Adani entity was applying for rolling stock operator accreditation. The CG’s office would have been aware the mine proponent Adani Mining Pty Ltd (Bravus) had surrendered their rail accreditation in 2017 before rail safety accreditation was passed over by the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Transport (DTMR) to the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) in 2017/18.

Here’s the statement made by the CG’s office in association with the final rail accreditations in their October 2020 update:

Adani will continue to work with the Commonwealth Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator to obtain necessary approvals. This approval not on the critical path and the Coordinator-General will continue to monitor.


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https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/22656/adani-outstanding-approvals-milestones-reached-01-10-2020.pdf

Here’s a statement made to me by a rail safety policy officer at DTMR in October 2018:

I can advise that the Adani rail transport operator accreditation was surrendered by Adani Mining Pty Ltd when the CRN entity was granted accreditation.

The CG’s office undertook to monitor developments around RSO approval. The RSO accreditation was granted on December 22, 2020, but the CG’s update was not published until March 26, 2021.

https://www.onrsr.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/4975/National-Rail-Safety-Register-Accreditation-1-February-2021.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0jmsQt3jiIw5LiNFgsfjYN9Nfq86-f6wWjgnXccj_5VEyE0mkdb8pBFbQ

The CG’s office clearly did not monitor for RSO accreditation. If they had been monitoring the process they would have developed a relationship with the ONRSR to receive timely notice of new Queensland based accreditations. Instead the CG’s office relied on Adani to update them, it seems, in their own time.

Here’s the statement provided to me by a spokesperson for the Office of the Coordinator-General on March 26, 2021:

In a February 2021 monthly report, Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd provided advice to the Office of the Coordinator-General that “CRN has all ONRSR accreditations necessary to support the current construction activity”. The project webpage has been updated with this project information.

Adani updated the CG’s office some time in February 2021, but the CG’s office did not act on that information until pressured by me. If we assume the ONRSR published their accreditations register document on the date listed, February 1, 2021, then we can reasonably surmise that the monitoring responsibilities of the CG’s office did not extend to monitoring publications from the national rail safety regulator.

Here’s a link to the March 26, 2021 update document from the CG’s office:

Did the CG’s office deliberately avoid/delay providing an update on CRN RSO accreditation? That’s the question I would like to answer. We can say for certain that the CG’s office allowed Adani to set the timeline by waiting for them to report before taking action. It can also be deduced that the CG’s office had knowledge of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd receiving the final approval/milestone at least 4 weeks before they published an update. We can be confident that if the CG’s office were actually monitoring the approvals process diligently they would have known about the RSO accreditation at least 8 weeks before they published their update. And if the CG’s office had a relationship with the ONRSR then they could have acquired knowledge of the final approval/milestone 3 months before they provided their update. We can be confident that Adani have known since December 22, 2020 that they had successfully received RSO accreditation.

Environmental Breaches on the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the Mackay Conservation Group/Environmental Justice Australia complaint

The way language is used in law and under the legislation that governs the work of the Office of the Coordinator-General determines the need for a high level of specificity. The same is not always required for the media or NGOs. The media and NGOs can get away with using general terminology or avoiding specific language altogether. When the coordinator-general’s office are less than specific with the language they provide to the media and NGOs they can feed into the misrepresentation of facts.

On February 5, 2021 the Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) and Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) issued a media release alleging environmental breaches to conditions imposed by the coordinator-general (CG). These breaches are alleged to have taken place on the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR).

The original media release from MCG-EJA made no mention of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd (CRN) nor does it assert that Bravus is the responsible entity. The media release does mention that the NGBR is the project in question. It’s not hard to do a quick search and discover that the proponent for the NGBR is CRN. Journalists could have easily obtained the correct information by clicking through to the letter sent by the EJA lawyer on February 3, 2021 to the Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Meaghan Scanlon in which the proponent is clearly specified.

From the media release:

MCG believes that conditions imposed by the Queensland Coordinator General (QCG) on Adani’s North Galilee Basin Rail Project to protect nearby waterways from contamination may have been breached. The conditions require the development and implementation of erosion and sediment control measures.

https://www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au/another_adani_environmental_breach_causes_pollution_to_queensland_waterways_says_local_community_group

Interestingly Adani’s response to the MCG/EJA media release and supporting documentation makes no mention of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd or the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. No effort is made to make it clear Bravus is not the responsible proponent.

Today, anti-coal activist organisations Environmental Justice Australia and Mackay Conservation Group released a statement containing false allegations regarding sediment controls on Bravus’ Carmichael mine and rail project sites.

And

Bravus Mining and Resources is constructing the Carmichael Mine and Rail Project, which comprises a 10 million tonne per annum thermal coal mine, located more than 300km inland from the Great Barrier Reef. It also includes a 200km narrow gauge rail line to connect the Carmichael Mine to the North Queensland Export Terminal via existing rail infrastructure.

The original letter sent by Ariane Wilkinson (EJA) on February 3, 2021 did specify that CRN are the NGBR proponent. The letter was linked in the February 5 media release.

We note that the failure to properly implement erosion and sediment controls on the NGBRP is part of a pattern of behaviour on the part of the Adani Group, including Adani Mining Pty Ltd, a related entity of the NGRP proponent, Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd.

When ABC North Queensland journalist Myles Houlbrook-Walk reported on the MCG/EJA complaint he erroneously suggested Bravus were responsible. Neither the media release nor the EJA lawyer’s letter contain the assertion that Bravus were the responsible proponent.

Environmentalists have alleged Bravus (formerly known as Adani) failed to properly manage erosion at its inland rail project, potentially contaminating waterways, according to a complaint made to Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-05/bravus-formerly-adani-accused-of-environmental-breaches-erosion/13120172

Melanie Whiting (NewsCorp) picked up the story on March 19, 2021. In her reporting Whiting, like Houlbrook-Walk erroneously asserted that Bravus was responsible.

The group alleged this was because Bravus had failed to properly prepare construction sites on the rail corridor for the wet season.

The Whiting story included a quote from the CG’s office saying Bravus provided them the information:

“Bravus has supplied information requested by the Coordinator-General, including details of the alleged event,” a spokesman for the Office of the Coordinator-General said.

On March 23, 2021 the CG’s office provided me with a statement that says that CRN are responsible:

Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was requested to, and did, provide information in relation to the alleged breach of conditions.

Did the CG’s office lie? I would contend that the CG’s office should communicate the name of the specific proponent of the project that is the subject of the complaint in question when providing statements to the media. I certainly think the CG’s office should make every effort to provide factual information to the media and the general public. Just because someone from the Bravus office communicated with the CG’s office in the provision of information, does not mean that Bravus provided information under the requirements imposed by the CG. Under the State Development and Public Works Act 1971 that governs the actions of the CG’s office, the legal entity and NGBR proponent that is listed on the NGBR project page which is hosted and maintained by the CG’s office is Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd. CRN are the entity from which the CG’s office sought and procured information and therefore the entity that the spokesperson for the CG’s office ought to have included in their statement to media reported on March 19, 2021.

Conclusions

Delaying the release of information and misrepresenting the source of information give advantage to Adani by masking the activities of the specific legal entity responsible for the extensive rail link that will cause damage along it’s entire length and open the Galilee Basin to decades of destruction. That legal entity was created for a reason that we don’t yet know and installed very quietly sometime before January 2017.

During my investigation into why alleged breaches by CRN were being reported as the responsibility of Bravus I discovered that the EJA lawyer had quit to go and work for WWF. The lawyer did not want to discuss the issue. When I spoke to a media person for EJA I discovered that nobody had been briefed to continue dealing with the media following the complaint. This went part of the way to explaining why neither EJA nor MCG had responded in any way to the Melanie Whiting story on their social media channels. My conversation with Peter McCallum from MCG on March 25, 2021 was much more cordial than my conversations with EJA staff, but I didn’t find an answer to the lack of attention paid to media reporting. It seems that between Adani, the media, the NGOs and the Queensland government there is no desire to report/communicate in a timely, accurate and diligent fashion. This advantages Adani’s interests against all others.

Digging into Adani’s Dealings: A learning journey into right to information applications with the Queensland government

Event:

December 10, 2018 at Turnstyle Community Hub from 4pm till 6pm

This event is in Brisbane. Check this link for details of the venue.

Description:

Anyone can make a right to information application with the Queensland government, and some people can get information released with minimal cost if they are experiencing financial hardship. If Adani don’t try to hold up my application I will receive a disclosure document on December 10.

Come along next Monday afternoon for an informal discussion about how ordinary people, putting their heads together, can work to liberate information about the Queensland state government’s dealings with Adani.

If a disclosure is provided to me on December 10, I will make it available to anyone who attends. The disclosure will be made publicly available by the Department of State Development who coordinate the Adani projects a week later. The first week is a crucial time for analysing an RTI disclosure and creating opportunities in the media to share new and possible explosive information.

Here is the disclosure listing: RTI1819-036-DSDMIP https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/right-to-information/disclosure-log-released-information.html

Background information: ‘Plan B, Separable Portion 1 and the new Adani proponent’ https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/plan-b-separable-portion-1-and-the-new-adani-proponent/

In detail:

I was able to get some support from the Environmental Defender’s Office Queensland in preparing my RTI application. EDO Qld were able to identify the relevant legislation and framed the crucial language that forms the most important element of an RTI application. Key words and terms determine the searches of departmental documents and communications conducted in response to an RTI application.

On December 10, 2018 the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning will either provide me with up to 215 pages of correspondence relating to the change of proponent for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the addition of a new proponent for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, or they will inform me of an extension of time for consultation with a third party (Adani). The information I am seeking is significant because the new proponent is the subject of multiple approvals that could be described as being ‘stealthed’ through by multiple Queensland government departments. The new proponent is one of the Adani shell companies mentioned in the media in the lead up to last year’s NAIF inquiry and is reported to hold the royalty deed for the Carmichael mine.

The Queensland Office of the Information Commissioner determine how right to information processes are delivered across the Queensland government departments. It also reviews decisions made by government departments. In March it issued it’s judgement on the Queensland Department of Treasury decision not to release information to Greenpeace Australia Pacific. The below statement confirms the importance of access to information about Adani’s dealings.

“The Carmichael rail project is a matter of considerable community interest and debate. Disclosure of information relating to the project, such as that in issue, could reasonably be expected to promote open discussion of the ‘pros and cons’ of the project, contribute to informed debate on the project’s merits and ensure any decisions to advance public monies are made transparently and accountably.” L Lynch, Acting Right to Information Commissioner, 1 March 2018

The Office of the Information Commissioner provides guidelines for right to information officers across the Queensland government. These guidelines are very informative and can help members of the public understand how RTI officers do their job.

https://www.oic.qld.gov.au/guidelines/for-government/access-and-amendment/processing-applications/consulting-with-a-relevant-third-party

If we focused more on the political economy of the Galilee Basin coal complex we might see less aversive racism toward Traditional Owners

All of us privileged types exhibit aversive racism from time to time, some of the time, or all of the time, myself included. Aversive racism is a product of privilege.

Here’s a good definition of aversive racism.

Aversive racism can be defined as exhibiting racist tendencies while denying that those thoughts, behaviors, and motives are racist (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012).

I don’t need to provide a dry definition of political economy here. I do need to point out that any serious analysis of political economy in relation to a development project like the Galilee Basin coal complex needs to identify and acknowledge all stakeholders in that economy, and all the legal and process based factors that can be exploited to enforce political will in shaping economic development. A person applying a political economy analysis has a professional and ethical obligation to look at all stakeholder groups without prejudice.

Traditional Owner Areas_map_Adani_March 2016_2
A map of the Traditional Owner groups along Adani’s preferred rail corridor, the North Galilee Basin Rail Project – released after February 20, 2018.

The above map ‘Attachment 2 – Map of Traditional Owner areas’ was supplied by Adani to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) in March 2016. It was included in a RTI disclosure that was made at some point after the last document modification date of February 20, 2018. RTI 15-315 contains only content and communications generated between February 3 and April 3, 2016. The recipient of the RTI disclosure cannot be provided by DNRM staff and neither can the dates the disclosure was made available to the recipient and/or the public.

I wish I had access to this map in January 2018. On January 24 the ABC published a piece by David Chen titled ‘Adani jobs in high demand as Indigenous groups call for a bigger share’. This article was shared in a Facebook post of a Queensland based activist group working on anti-Adani campaigns. The comments from followers of the Facebook page in response to this story demonstrate aversive racist assumptions about Indigenous people living in regional areas and their community members living in the big cities and regional centres. I would contend that these assumptions were cultivated by the media driven narrative of the StopAdani coalition and their allies.

Here’s a selection of comments that were captured on January 24, 2018. I will not be individually analysing each comment. I’d rather you interpret them for yourself after reading the article in question.

I thought that the indigenous people of Australia did not want their Mother Earth ripping apart. What are we fighting for if they don’t really care? They are expecting jobs that will not materialise.

 

Nobody but people set to make $$ want Adani, greed over our environment, they should be put behind bars and Adani should be kicked out of the country.

 

I’m sure most of the indigenous groups do not want this mine to go ahead.
It goes against their love of country.

 

Does this not go against everything the culture believes in.

 

I was of the opinion the that aboriginal groups are totally opposed to the mine?

 

We need to talk about what it’s really like to be a Traditional Owner/native title claimant.

The starting position for many Traditional Owners is an absolute desire for economic autonomy, and freedom from paternalism and the micromanagement of coloniser bureaucracy.

Traditional Owners are often presented with the threat of compulsory acquisition through discreet channels. This is what happened for all TOs along the North Galilee Basin Rail corridor. It is a strategy of non-cooperation exercised by governments in collusion with business interests. The collusive efforts of governments and business ensure they enter negotiations with a win-win strategy. Traditional Owners can only make themselves a stakeholder in protecting country through negotiating as the weaker party for the long haul to achieve some measure of agency and reasonable compensation.

The native title system is largely about managing extinguishment while affording a right to negotiate in order to protect rights and interests in country. The threat of compulsory acquisition or forced extinguishment fundamentally acts against the spirit of that right. The right to refuse, in most negotiations, does not exist.

The process of making a native title claim is long and can be excruciating while creating and exposing divisions. During and after the native title determination process Traditional Owners are compelled to negotiate and engage with corporate and government stakeholders with long-term plans for development. Most Traditional Owners have limited/problematic avenues for funding social programs and developing autonomy in the face of relentless pressure from resource companies and multiple levels of government. Add to this the fact that the most crucial bureaucratic functions performed in the native title sector are delivered by opaque organisations like Queensland South Native Title Services and the North Queensland Land Council who work with mining companies to deliver voting meetings and certify agreements along with providing enabling services like legal and technical support and representation within the native title system.

 

The truth doesn’t feel nice. What can we be passionate about?

It would be great if TOs had the choice to reject the deals put before them under our colonised/post colonial economy, but TO communities need services and jobs. Many TO communities need healing that can only be administered by themselves in their own way. If we want a country where TO communities have the autonomy to reject mines, rail lines, ports, dams, and other damaging developments then we need to start by looking at the political and economic truth of what is happening now. We need to look at the local economies and at the part to be played by the global economy. This is especially the case in relation to the Galilee Basin coal complex and the commodities we trade with the world to enable our consumer economy.

We can be passionate about getting to the truth and making our way to the point where TOs can negotiate from a position of strength. We can feel passionate about hearing and sharing the testimony of TOs in their struggle – whether it feels nice or not.

 

The Adani court case nobody is talking about

JEL (Juru Enterprises Limited) KMYAC (Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation) RNTBC (Registered Native Title Body Corporate) ILUA (Indigenous Land Use Agreement) ORIC (Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations) NNTT (National Native Title Tribunal) NQLC (North Queensland Land Council) DSD (Department of State Development) NTRB (Native Title Representative Body) NQBP (North Queensland Bulk Ports) CHMP (Cultural Heritage Management Plan) ATSI (Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander) APGGP (Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project)

 

The court case QUD244/2017

In June last year a news article appeared titled ‘Juru missed out on $1m from Adani: court’. It was written by NewsCorp regional reporter Geoff Egan (15). To my knowledge there are no other news articles or writing relating to the court proceedings mentioned in the article. Geoff kindly shared links to Commonwealth Court documents with me (16,17). Here’s a quote from his article that sums up the court proceedings:

Juru Enterprise has taken Adani and Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation to the Federal Court claiming Kyburra did not have approval to replace Juru under an Indigenous Land Use Agreement amendment.

Through my research I’ve gathered that Juru Enterprises Limited (JEL) were assisted in making Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) with Adani by the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC). I’ve also found that agreements over Abbot Point have been made or entered into by JEL after the Aboriginal corporation specifically set up to deal with native title matters for the Juru People, Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC (KMYAC) came into existence.

 

KMYAC on the verge of insolvency

It’s important to understand that at this stage KMYAC are still under special administration by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) (10). This is the final run in an 18 month long process. ORIC appointed a small firm for the first incomplete examination back in October 2016, and then, in May 2017 appointed a second larger firm for the 2 following unsatisfactory examinations. In October 2017, a year after the first examination began KMYAC were placed under special administration which has been extended twice. The examiners, special administrators, and independent auditors appointed by ORIC have reported a lack of financial information supplied by KMYAC (11(a), 13).  Reports from the special administrators and financial auditors strongly suggest that on May 18, 2018 when the third period of special administration finishes KMYAC will be insolvent (11(a), 13). It seems there is no money for JEL even if they are successful.

 

The origins of Juru Enterprises Limited

JEL were created as a company in 2012 to “implement” an ILUA QI2011/063 made with North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) in 2011 (20, 2). JEL did not exist until shortly before the this ILUA was registered (21). Here’s a quote from the North Queensland Land Council 2012/13 annual report.

The Juru People authorised the ILUA on 13 August 2011 at Bowen and the ILUA was registered on 12 May 2012. Juru Enterprises Ltd (JEL) was established in April 2012 to implement the ILUA and NQLC continue to assist JEL in these activities.

The Juru People were assisted in making the ILUA with NQBP by the NQLC who also assisted them in making another ILUA in 2013 QI2013/036 (3).  The Adani – Abbot Point ILUA covers part of Abbot Point and was made with JEL as the applicant. The earlier ILUA was made by a group of Juru claim group members represented by the NQLC. KMYAC, who at that stage had been a Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC) with ORIC for more than a year, were not a party to this agreement (5). The NQLC certified both agreements acting as the Native Title Representative Body (NTRB).

In 2014 Juru Enterprises Limited (JEL) were assisted to set up a head office on Lot 8 West St, Bowen by the Whitsunday Shire Council and the Department of State Development (DSD) who owned the land on which the JEL head office now stands (8, 22). In a previous blog post I explained how JEL have been involved in meetings with Adani representatives and other contractors (18). It’s fair to say that the Whitsunday Shire Council, the Queensland Coordinator General, and the North Queensland Land Council working with Adani and North Queensland Bulk Ports have helped Juru Enterprises Limited come into being.

 

After the big determination

In his “REASONS FOR JUDGEMENT” as part of the [2014] FCA 736, determination of  native title for Federal Court file number QUD 554 of 2010, Justice Steven Rares ported some rights and interests in native title matters from JEL to KMYAC “on trust” (23).

Determination that native title is to be held on trust

32 The Juru people should understand that some very significant native title rights and interests to which the claim group is entitled are not presently to be held on trust for it by Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation. Those rights and interests are covered by two indigenous land use agreements. One of those agreements was entered into by the original applicant in these proceedings and Adani Abbot Point Terminal Pty Ltd, Adani Abbot Point Terminal Holdings Pty Ltd, Mundra Port Holdings Pty Ltd and Mundra Port Pty Ltd, which are developing a large coal mine and the Abbot Point facilities.

On October 26, 2015 in a response to a 14 point submission regarding the Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project (APGGP) from an unnamed Juru Traditional Owner who argued in point 7 that “agreements with Kyburra that are binding on the Juru common law holders are null and void”, the DSD stated that the rights and interests in Native Title in relation to cultural heritage management for Abbot Point lay with KMYAC for “the project”, and “[KMYAC] is the appropriate party to enter into such an agreement under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003”. In another statement responding to point 2 from the same submission the DSD stated that “duty of care” in relation to procedures under a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) as part of an ILUA made with “the Juru People Native Title claimants, JEL (as the Juru Nominated Body)” under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 was “in compliance” (24).

Another document from the same date and tranche of APGGP EIS publications titled ‘Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project Environmental Impact Statement Volume 4 – Supplement Report’ provides an “editorial correction” to the executive summary document created on August 17, 2015 (25, 26). The correction strikes through text indicating that KMYAC are the Juru body with which “the proponent intends to develop a cultural heritage management agreement”. Here’s the complete text:

5.4 Editorial corrections
Volume 1 – Executive Summary: Section 3 ‘Native Title and Cultural Heritage’

“The Juru People hold non-exclusive native title rights and interests in land and waters within the Port of Abbot Point and the Abbot Point State Development Area.

(struck through) In accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003, as registered native title holder, the Juru People have special legal status as the primary party in charge of Aboriginal cultural heritage within the boundaries of the registered native title determination. Therefore, the proponent intends to develop a cultural heritage management agreement with Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation to identify and manage any project impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage values in both onshore and offshore areas. The engagement process has already been initiated and is ongoing.

The Native Title determination is subject to a suite of tenures and Indigenous Land
Use Agreements (ILUAs) that deal with development at Abbot Point and in the APSDA. This includes the Port of Abbot Point and APSDA ILUA (QI2011/063). The parties to this ILUA are the Juru People, the State of Queensland, NQBP, the Coordinator General and Juru Enterprises Limited. It also includes the Juru People and Adani Abbot Point Terminal ILUA (QI2013/036)”

I’m no legal expert, but it seems unclear if the rights and interests over native title relating to the ILUA made by the Juru People with North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (QI2011/063) are held by Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC (KMYAC). This ILUA was signed after KMYAC was incorporated on July 5, 2011 and registered after KMYAC was registered with ORIC as an RNTBC on March 6, 2012 (4, 5).

It is clear that the DSD changed it’s position between August 13, 2015 when the APGGP executive summary was created and October 26, 2015 when the tranche of supplementary documents were created.

The May 24 hearing may provide clarity on issues of who has rights and interests under Native Title at Abbot Point and issues relating to the state of KMYAC finances.

 

The final hearing

After a fair bit of research on how to attend Federal Court – Queensland Registry hearings I was able to convince a friend and erstwhile native title expert to attend the February 8, 2018 case management hearing in preparation for a final hearing in Brisbane on May 24, 2018. My friend reports that a figure of 1.6 million was mentioned during the very fast-paced proceedings. My friend also noted that there was another unrelated matter heard in the same sitting involving financial mismanagement of an Indigenous corporation that left both of us asking “how many other cases of corporate failure end up in court?”.

I would note that the National Native Title Tribunal are not monitoring these proceedings. My conversations with the NNTT were confusing and I was not able to determine which organisation might be interested in monitoring and reporting on these proceedings.

The only acknowledgment of the upcoming court hearing by the regulator, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC), was in a special administration ‘newsletter’ in April, 2018 (11(c)). Here’s a quote from the newsletter.

Federal Court matter—JEL vs Adani and KMYAC QUD244/2017 This matter is still progressing in the Federal Court. On 8 February 2018 at a case management hearing, the Court ordered various documents and pleadings to be filed by specified dates. A trial date of 24 May 2018 has been set. We have been able to obtain funding from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (via NQLC) so that KMYAC can receive legal advice and be represented in relation to this matter. A barrister has been briefed, and we have engaged a new lawyer. They are advising us on what KMYAC should do to achieve the best outcome in this matter.

ORIC have a stated interest in reducing corporate failure. They shared positive figures in November 2017, shortly after KMYAC was placed into special administration (27). They have not commissioned a report into corporate failure since 2010 (28).

 

The former KMYAC director and the NQLC

The North Queensland Land Council has a relationship with both JEL and KMYAC. It has done it’s job under the native title system to assist the Juru People to make claims and agreements. But anyone looking at the political and economic reality of the developments at Abbot Point and on the Adani rail corridor ought to be concerned about the fact that the former director of KMYAC is also a director of the NQLC and responsible for the Townsville Ward which covers Abbot Point. The former director of KMYAC is associated with multiple instances of financial mismanagement of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander (ATSI) organisations in the Townsville area. If this person was convicted in any one of those instances they would not qualify to hold the position of director in the NQLC. Here’s a quote from the fact sheet titled ‘What it means to be an NQLC director’.  (29)

You are disqualified from election to the board under the CATSI Act if you are a person who:

Conviction

Section 1
(a) is convicted on indictment of an offence that: i. concerns the making, or participation in making, of decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of the business of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation; or ii. concerns an act that has the capacity to affect significantly the financial standing of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation; or (b) is convicted of an offence that: i. is a contravention of this Act and is punishable by imprisonment for a period greater than 12 months; or ii. Involves dishonesty and is punishable by imprisonment for at least 3 months; or

The former director may also lose their position as an NQLC director in the event of KMYAC insolvency.

You are disqualified by the Head Agreement for Indigenous
Grants and the Project Schedule thereto for general grants
for native title representative bodies and service providers
if:

[ ]

Is or was a director or occupied an influential position
in the management or financial administration
that had failed to comply with funding or grant
requirements of the Commonwealth, the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Island Commission or its
predecessors

The North Queensland Land Council are responsible for guidance and legal support for Aboriginal corporations, claim groups, and other entities to make Indigenous land use agreements with governments and corporations. That means they are extensively involved in appointing everyone from anthropologists to legal counsel. The strength of connection between the NQLC and the KMYAC director is very problematic and ought to be given some serious scrutiny.

Anyone looking at the role of the North Queensland Land Council in the political economy of North Queensland in relation to mining and infrastructure development ought to read the series of recent articles in the Townsville Bulletin written by Clare Armstrong outlining the anger and sorrow at the financial mismanagement of KMYAC at the recent AGM and the subsequent fallout (10). The articles written for the Townsville Bulletin in 2016 and 2017 by Samantha Healy contain important testimony from Carol Prior. My blog post titled ‘Do you want Indigenous autonomy and to stop Adani?’ is also useful reading (18).

 

PS. The briefing document below is a detailed set of references and links for the this blog post. It is a modified version of the briefing I send to interested persons.

 

JEL, KMYAC, and the state of play: Briefing Document 2

By Michael Swifte

JEL (Juru Enterprises Limited) KMYAC (Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation) RNTBC (Registered Native Title Body Corporate) ILUA (Indigenous Land Use Agreement) ORIC (Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations) NNTT (National Native Title Tribunal) NQLC (North Queensland Land Council) DSD (Department of State Development) NTRB (Native Title Representative Body) NQBP (North Queensland Bulk Ports) CHMP (Cultural Heritage Management Plan) ATSI (Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander) APGGP (Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project)

This briefing has been prepared in anticipation of the Federal Court hearing QUD244/2017 set for May 24, 2018 in Brisbane. The proceedings have been brought by Juru Enterprises Limited to determine the appropriate distribution of funds from Adani to one of two organisations representing the Juru People relating to ILUAs made with Adani by two organisations, JEL and KMYAC. Quotes and references have been collected to provide political and economic context to the proceedings on May 24. A key component of context here is the apparent corporate failure of KMYAC who have been under ‘special administration’ by ORIC since October 2017. My conversations with NNTT staff in early February 2018 indicated that they are not tracking this case.

 

JEL and KMYAC, ILUAs with Adani, KMYAC is the Juru RNTBC

1. Koori Mail October 9, 2013: Correction notice.

Juru Enterprises Ltd listed as ILUA “applicant”, NNTT Number: QI2013/036

http://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/digitised_collections/the_koori_mail/561.pdf

2. North Queensland Land Council 2012/13 annual report

Juru People – Port of Abbot Point and State Development Area ILUA An ILUA to facilitate the expansion of the Abbot Point Port and State Development Area was negotiated by the Juru People, North Queensland Bulk Ports and the Co-ordinator General. The Juru People authorised the ILUA on 13 August 2011 at Bowen and the ILUA was registered on 12 May 2012. Juru Enterprises Ltd (JEL) was established in April 2012 to implement the ILUA and NQLC continue to assist JEL in these activities.

https://nqlc.com.au/files/7114/4549/3755/NQLC-AR-201213.pdf

3. Juru Enterprises Ltd as the “applicant” in the NNTT extract of ILUA QI2013/036

c/- Applicant, Juru Enterprises Ltd PO Box 748

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/ILUA%20Register/2013/QI2013.036/ILUARegisterExport.pdf

4. An AIATSIS summary document indicating that KMYAC was incorporated on 05/07/2011

http://nativetitle.org.au/PDFs/QLD_Kyburra_Munda_Yalga.pdf

5. KMYAC was registered with ORIC as an RNTBC on 06/03/2012

Certificate of Registration of Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC (March 2012)

http://register.oric.gov.au/document.aspx?concernID=2035210

6. Extract from Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements. NNTT Number QI2014/072

Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/ILUA%20Register/2014/QI2014.072/ILUARegisterExport.pdf

7. An Adani EIS document from October 2012 where “Juru Enterprises Ltd” are listed as the contact for Juru people in consultations over Abbot Point developments.

All those involved in the consultation process from the Juru people were contacted through Juru Enterprises Ltd.

http://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/adani/pdf/eisdoc_e11-indigenous-social-and-economic-impact-assessment.pdf

8. Whitsunday Regional Council meeting notice containing a proposal that a head office be set up for Juru Enterprises Ltd with help from the Coordinator General of the Queensland Department of State Development.

PROPOSAL The purpose of the proposal is to develop an appropriate head office for Juru Enterprises Ltd where the business of land care and pest management will be provided. The Office of the Coordinator General has engaged Juru Enterprises Ltd to undertake land care and pest management as per an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for the Port of Abbot Point State Development Area. In order for Juru Enterprises Ltd to operate and establish a business, the West Street property (Lot 8 SP257305) owned by the Office of the Coordinator General, has been nominated for the development. Ranbury Management Group is acting as Project Managers for the Office of the Coordinator General to establish this project.

https://www.whitsunday.qld.gov.au/DocumentCenter/View/556

9. The Queensland Department of State Development Annual Report 2016/17 mentions Juru Enterprises Ltd in relation to the Abbot Point State Development Area.

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.

https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/resources/publication/annual-report/dsd-annual-report-2016-17-part-06.pdf

 

KMYAC Under Special Administration

10. Townsville Bulletin article March 22, 2018. ‘Anger building as meeting reveals Kyburra paid cash to people wanting to avoid Centrelink‘.

CLARE ARMSTRONG, Townsville Bulletin. March 22, 2018

MEMBERS of an embattled Townsville indigenous corporation are angry about its management after discovering millions in undeclared revenue.

Emotions ran high at the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corp AGM in Bowen as many attendees expressed their dismay at the finances of the organisation, which is now under special administration.

Kyburra was incorporated in 2011 to represent the Juru people. The Bulletin revealed last month directors failed to declare about $1.8 million in revenue between 2014 and 2017.

The Office of the Registrar of indigenous Corporations (ORIC) found more than 70 potential breaches of the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act (CATSI), including that $205,828.76 in payments from July 2014 to March 2017 were unaccounted for.

At the AGM, former Kyburra bookkeeper Evelyn Lymburner said “everything was done by the books” but admitted the cash payments were at the request of members conducting cultural heritage work.

They said ‘no, we want the cash over the counter because we don’t want it to go to Centrelink, we’ve got debits on our accounts’,” she said. “So we gave the cash. I know we shouldn’t have done that, but that’s how it was done.”

Ms Lymburner said directors had “found a clause” saying there was no requirement to pay tax on such payments.

I don’t know how far the audit’s got to go back … because we might have to pay tax on them all,” she said.

There’s millions of dollars that have gone through, how did we end up $150,000 in debt, why should we have to sell our freehold land (to cover that),” one member yelled.

An elder asked why bursaries had not been granted.

What about the students that want training and what about all Juru people … they don’t know anything that’s going on,” she said.

ORIC examiners had also raised concerns that directors were paid thousands in “attendance and negotiation fees” in breach of the CATSI Act.

Ex-director Jenny Pryor said the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC) and a rule in Kyburra’s constitution allowed for the payments.

The Bulletin has confirmed Kyburra’s constitution does not allow for the payments and the rule referred to by Ms P.ryor is not yet in effect.

NQLC chief executive Stephen Ducksbury said “at no time” were Kyburra directors told they were entitled to be paid fees, but it was “standard practice” that traditional owners could be paid to participate in Native Title negotiations.

Subscriber only

https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/townsville/anger-building-as-meeting-reveals-kyburra-paid-cash-to-people-wanting-to-avoid-centrelink/news-story/7096bbeb4c4a2998bedaa1824e4da0eb

11(a) On April 5, 2018 ORIC published a Special Administration Newsletter for KMYAC which has some alarming assessments.

As you can see KYMAC is in a serious financial position. Finding bail-out monies to pay the debts is proving very difficult. We have spoken to government and to various proponents to ask if they can help. Everyone we have asked for help has told us that they cannot provide any money.

And,

If we cannot get any money to repay the bills then KMYAC will have to go into liquidation. If this happens, the native title land that has been returned to the Juru people by Federal Court will remain with the Juru people however it will be necessary to set up a new prescribed body corporate (PBC) to look after and manage the native title. The financial situation is very serious. We are working hard to find a solution, so far without success. There is a real possibility that KYMAC may need to go into liquidation at the end of the special administration. We are working with ORIC to end the special administration as soon as possible, however a further extension may be required to allow enough time for the appointment of a new board or a liquidator.

11(b) The April 5, 2018 ORIC Special Administration Newsletter for KMYAC also has a table of unpaid debts which is also alarming.

Unpaid debts as at 12 April 2018 Staff wages 2017 $15,679 Staff superannuation and penalties 2014–17 $44,071 GST and PAYG $92,109 Rent $12,985 Legal and accounting fees $17,211 Other $2,329 Total amounts payable $184,384 Less available funds $16,130 Estimated shortfall $168,254

11(c) The upcoming Federal Court case is mentioned including mention of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet funding for legal expenses.

Federal Court matter—JEL vs Adani and KMYAC QUD244/2017 This matter is still progressing in the Federal Court. On 8 February 2018 at a case management hearing, the Court ordered various documents and pleadings to be filed by specified dates. A trial date of 24 May 2018 has been set. We have been able to obtain funding from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (via NQLC) so that KMYAC can receive legal advice and be represented in relation to this matter. A barrister has been briefed, and we have engaged a new lawyer. They are advising us on what KMYAC should do to achieve the best outcome in this matter.

11(d) Under the subject “Other native title issues” there is mention of “the rail corridor”.

We have held discussions with Adani about the proposed rail corridor and other sites in the Abbot Point area. We have requested further meetings with Adani representatives, so that members of the advisory group, and elders can get a better understanding of the existing agreements, the path of the rail corridor, Adani’s requirements, and advise Adani of any concerns of the Juru people.

Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC – Special Administration Newsletter (April 2018)

http://register.oric.gov.au/document.aspx?concernID=2035210

12. On April 20, 2018 ORIC extended special administration for the second time. New date the end of special administration is May 18, 2018.

AND TAKE NOTICE THAT: 1. Under subsection 487-15(1) of the CATSI Act, I, Kevin Vu, a delegate of the Registrar extend the period of the special administration of the corporation until 11:59pm (AEST) on Friday, 18 May 2018. 2. Under subsection 490-5(2) of the CATSI Act, I appoint Mr Gerry Mier and Mr Tony Jonsson as the joint and several special administrators for the period of the special administration. Dated this 20th day of April 2018

Section 487-1 Determination and Section 490-1 Instrument of Appointment

http://register.oric.gov.au/document.aspx?concernID=2035210

13. From the ORIC audited financial statement for 2016/17. The below quote follows multiple mentions of “insufficient supporting documentation”.

Emphasis of Matter Inherent Uncertainty as to Going Concern

We draw attention to Note 2 in the financial report which indicates that the corporation incurred a net surplus of $105,623 during the year ended 30 June 2017, but despite this, the Corporations current liabilities exceeded its total assets by $10,670 due to historical losses. These conditions, along with other matters as set forth in Note 2, indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the corporations’ ability to continue as a going concern and therefore the entity may be unable to realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.

Audited financial statements – 30 June 2017

http://register.oric.gov.au/document.aspx?concernID=2035210

14. Three audited financial statements prepared for KMYAC under special administration provide revenue figures relating to Adani covering the 2014/15, 2015/16, and 2016/17 financial years.

Revenue from North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) – $140,872

Revenue from Adani Mining Pty Ltd – $395,380

Revenue from combined NGBR and Adani Mining Pty Ltd (NGBR proponent) – $536,252

Revenue from Abbot Point/port/bulk coal – $302, 735

Total revenue from Adani entities -$838, 987

Audited financial statements – 30 June 2017, 30 June 2016, and 30 June 2017.

http://register.oric.gov.au/document.aspx?concernID=2035210

 

JEL vs Adani and KMYAC in Federal Court

15. ‘Juru missed out on $1m from Adani: court’ by Geoff Egan, The Morning Bulletin.

Juru Enterprise has taken Adani and Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation to the Federal Court claiming Kyburra did not have approval to replace Juru under an Indigenous Land Use Agreement amendment.

https://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/juru-missed-out-on-1m-from-adani-court/3184689/

16. Federal Court documents for a final hearing with Justice Rares on May 24 in Brisbane. Mediation hearings have preceded this hearing. Proceedings relate to a reported 1.6 million AUD in disputed revenue.

JURU ENTERPRISE LIMITED Applicant ADANI AUSTRALIA COMPANY PTY LTD ABN 87 163 221 609 AS TRUSTEE OF ADANI AUSTRALIA HOLDING TRUST and another named in the schedule Respondent

Second Respondent KYBURRA MUNDA YALGA ABORIGINAL CORPORATION RNTBC

The proceeding be fixed for final hearing on 24 May 2018 at 9.30am in Brisbane.

(accessed 23/04/18)

https://www.comcourts.gov.au/file/Federal/P/QUD244/2017/3789232/event/29191598/document/1114116

17. Federal Court of Australia, Queensland Registry portal. Number: QUD244/2017

Court 5 Level 7 Harry Gibbs Commonwealth Law Courts

https://www.comcourts.gov.au/file/Federal/P/QUD244/2017/actions

 

Further context on my blog We Suspect Silence.

18. The most relevant of my blog posts looks into the business and networks of JEL and KMYAC.

Do you want Indigenous autonomy and to stop Adani?

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/09/25/do-you-want-indigenous-autonomy-and-to-stop-adani/
19. My submission to Reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 provides in depth detail about the ILUA making process and the role of the NNTT.

Aboriginal Autonomy and the Galilee Basin Coal Complex

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/aboriginal-autonomy-and-the-galilee-basin-coal-complex/

 

Supplementary references

20. Port of Abbot Point and Abbot Point State Development Area ILUA. QI2011/063

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/ILUA%20Register/2011/QI2011.063/ILUARegisterExport.pdf

21. ASIC Company Info – Juru Enterprises Limited.

Incorporated April 3, 2012

https://www.asiccompany.info/australian?utm_term=Juru-enterprises-limited&utm_source=157951203

22. JEL head office

8 West St, Bowen QLD 4805

http://www.juruenterprises.com.au/contact.html

23. Lampton on behalf of the Juru People v State of Queensland [2014] FCA 736 (11 July 2014)

Determination that native title is to be held on trust

[ ]

32 The Juru people should understand that some very significant native title rights and interests to which the claim group is entitled are not presently to be held on trust for it by Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation. Those rights and interests are covered by two indigenous land use agreements. One of those agreements was entered into by the original applicant in these proceedings and Adani Abbot Point Terminal Pty Ltd, Adani Abbot Point Terminal Holdings Pty Ltd, Mundra Port Holdings Pty Ltd and Mundra Port Pty Ltd, which are developing a large coal mine and the Abbot Point facilities.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/cth/FCA/2014/736.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=title(Lampton%20on%20behalf%20of%20the%20Juru%20People%20and%20State%20of%20Queensland%20)

24. Appendix A: Detailed Submission Responses – Abbot Point Growth Gateway. October 26, 2015

Traditional Owner Submission

2. The current Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) between Juru Enterprises Limited (JEL), NQBP and the Coordinator General has not been efficient thus far in the identification of and preservation of the Eastern Dune System (Abbot Point Beach), Dingo Beach and Shark Bay. The current measures do not protect these areas enough as they are currently not registered as Significant Aboriginal Areas as they should be, and minimum buffer zones of 50m need to be enforced to maximise protection

Response

Potential impacts on Aboriginal cultural heritage in undertaking the Project have been managed under the cultural heritage management procedures in the Port of Abbot Point and Abbot Point State Development Area Indigenous Land Use Agreement QI2011/063 (Abbot Point ILUA). The parties to the Abbot Point ILUA are the Juru People Native Title claimants, JEL (as the Juru Nominated Body), the State of Queensland, NQBP and the Coordinator-General. Compliance with the cultural heritage management procedures in the Abbot Point ILUA satisfies the cultural heritage duty of care under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003.

and

7. In application of Section 58(a) of the Native Title Act 1993, due to Kyburra only holding Juru people’s Native Title in trust, Kyburra cannot act as agent or representative of the Juru common law holders and cannot enter into agreements binding them. Therefore any agreements with Kyburra that are binding on the Juru common law holders are null and void.

Response

The Queensland DSD entered into an agreement with Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation (Kyburra) in relation to the management of cultural heritage for initial geotechnical site investigations for the Project. Kyburra, as the registered Native Title body corporate for the Juru Native Title determination at Abbot Point (QUD554/2010), is the appropriate party to enter into such an agreement under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003, as the project area is within the external boundaries of the Juru Native Title determination.

https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/resources/project/abbot-point-apx/supplement-report-appendices-part2.pdf

25. Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project Environmental Impact Statement Volume 4 – Supplement Report

5.4 Editorial corrections
Volume 1 – Executive Summary: Section 3 ‘Native Title and Cultural Heritage’


“The Juru People hold non-exclusive native title rights and interests in land and waters within the Port of Abbot Point and the Abbot Point State Development Area.


(struck through) In accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003, as registered native title holder, the Juru People have special legal status as the primary party in charge of Aboriginal cultural heritage within the boundaries of the registered native title determination. Therefore, the proponent intends to develop a cultural heritage management agreement with Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation to identify and manage any project impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage values in both onshore and offshore areas. The engagement process has already been initiated and is ongoing.


The Native Title determination is subject to a suite of tenures and Indigenous Land
Use Agreements (ILUAs) that deal with development at Abbot Point and in the APSDA. This includes the Port of Abbot Point and APSDA ILUA (QI2011/063). The parties to this ILUA are the Juru People, the State of Queensland, NQBP, the Coordinator General and Juru Enterprises Limited. It also includes the Juru People and Adani Abbot Point Terminal ILUA (QI2013/036)”

https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/resources/project/abbot-point-apx/supplement-report-part1.pdf

26. Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project Environmental Impact Statement Volume 1 – Executive Summary 17 August 2015

Section 3 Native Title and Cultural Heritage

The Juru People hold non-exclusive native title rights and interests in land and waters within the Port of Abbot Point and the Abbot Point State Development Area. The Juru people are represented by the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation. In accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003, as registered native title holder, the Juru People have special legal status as the primary party in charge of Aboriginal cultural heritage within the boundaries of the registered native title determination. Therefore, the proponent intends to develop a cultural heritage management agreement with Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation to identify and manage any project impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage values in both onshore and offshore areas. The engagement process has already been initiated and is ongoing.

https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/resources/project/abbot-point-apx/abbot-pt-eis-vol-01-exec-summary.pdf

27. ORIC – Registrar’s Year in Review

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations are less likely to fail than mainstream corporations. In 2016–17 not a single corporation was placed into liquidation, receivership or voluntary administration—that’s 0 per cent.

http://www.oric.gov.au/publications/yearbook-section/registrars-year-review

28. ORIC: ‘Analysing key characteristics in Indigenous corporate failure’ by Dr James Swansson

http://www.oric.gov.au/publications/other-report/analysing-key-characteristics-indigenous-corporate-failure

29. What it means to be an NQLC director

You are disqualified from election to the board under the CATSI Act if you are a person who:

Conviction

Section 1
(a) is convicted on indictment of an offence that: i. concerns the making, or participation in making, of decisions that affect the whole or a substantial part of the business of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation; or ii. concerns an act that has the capacity to affect significantly the financial standing of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation; or (b) is convicted of an offence that: i. is a contravention of this Act and is punishable by imprisonment for a period greater than 12 months; or ii. Involves dishonesty and is punishable by imprisonment for at least 3 months; or

and

You are disqualified by the Head Agreement for Indigenous
Grants and the Project Schedule thereto for general grants
for native title representative bodies and service providers
if:

[ ]

Is or was a director or occupied an influential position
in the management or financial administration
that had failed to comply with funding or grant
requirements of the Commonwealth, the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Island Commission or its
predecessors

http://nqlc.com.au/files/1715/0207/4463/20170807-factsheet_nqlc-director-V1.0.pdf

 

We know less about Aurizon’s NAIF application than we knew about Adani’s

Aurizon’s Central Queensland Integrated Rail Project (CQIRP) has lapsed as you can see on the Queensland State Development (DSD) website.

Before their rail project lapsed Aurizon entered into an agreement with GVK Hancock. You can can read about it on the Aurizon website.

GVK chairman Dr G V Krishna Reddy was extremely confident about their deal to connect the south Galilee Basin block of mines. He is quoted on the Aurizon website saying:

This is one of the most significant deals in Queensland’s coal history. The development of the rail and port infrastructure will unlock the Galilee Basin and see the development of Alpha, Kevin’s Corner and Alpha West, creating one of the largest integrated coal development projects globally.

The reason the GVK chairman was so confident was because, like Adani, GVK Hancock possessed multiple Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) covering their proposed rail corridor. The GVK Hancock rail corridor is designed to connect Abbot Point to mining leases nearly 500 kilometres south-west of the port. One of these ILUAs was made with the Wangan and Jagalingou People. It covers the southern most section of the GVK Hancock rail corridor and some mining infrastructure, but not mining activity.

You can find the Hancock Alpha Coal Project ILUA (Wangan and Jagalingou Area) on the National Native Title Tribunal website.

Here’s a map of the section of rail corridor covered by the ILUA with NNTT number QI2011/011

screenshot.693

The northern most portion of this rail corridor section passes over Mistake Creek before it crosses the Gregory Highway adjacent to Mazeppa National Park. On the DSD website page for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project it states:

The southern end of the rail line would connect with rail infrastructure proposed as part of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project in the vicinity of Mistake Creek (west of Moranbah) and would run north to the Port of Abbot Point (near Bowen).

What the GVK Hancock rail project and the Adani rail project have in common is that they are both planned as standard gauge projects unlike CQIRP which was planned to be a narrow gauge extension of the existing Newlands and Goonyella systems currently in use servicing the Bowen Basin mines. What these two projects have in common that separates them from Aurizon as a rail project developer is that they have the necessary ILUAs to support project development. Adani have the three necessary ILUAs to develop the NGBR and GVK Hancock have the four necessary ILUAs to develop the rail component of the Alpha Coal Project and in the process connect four or more other coal mines to Abbot Point. You can read about these mines in the Queensland Department of State Development – Annual Report 2016/17.

GVK Hancock’s very confident media release from March 2015 titled ‘GVK HANCOCK HAS ALL INDIGENOUS AGREEMENTS IN PLACE FOR ITS PROPOSED MINE, RAIL AND PORT’.

Aurizon don’t appear to have any rail project ILUAs with the Wangan People, Jannga People, Birriah People, or Juru People. It seems highly likely that Aurizon’s ambitions to build a rail line with NAIF funding are connected to their relationship with GVK Hancock who have the necessary agreements in place.

It is not likely that Aurizon will seek to revive their narrow gauge CQIRP project. It has been reported from many sources that the coal industry strongly prefers new coal rail projects in the Galilee Basin to be standard gauge. One key source indicating a preference for standard gauge is an RTI disclosure from 2014 revealing communications between Queensland Treasury, State Development, and the Department of Premier and Cabinet bureaucrats. I discussed the disclosure in this blog post.

When I say “we know less” I’m not referring to “we” as in the general public, because the general public have been misinformed by silence and lies and cut n paste journalism. When I say “we know less” I’m referring to those who know some actual true information, and who, for the most part, don’t share that information. I’m referring to the messaging masters of the Stop Adani coalition NGOs and their think tank allies, the political parties (including the Greens), Fairfax, The Guardian, the ABC, and the NewsCorp press.

 

GVK Hancock and all the rail project ILUAs.

Alpha Coal Project (GVK Hancock) – State Development page

QI2011/011 – Hancock Alpha Coal Project ILUA (Wangan and Jagalingou Area)

QI2011/003 – Hancock Alpha Coal Project ILUA (Jangga Area)

QI2011/004 – Hancock Alpha Coal Pty Ltd & Birri Native Title Claim Group ILUA

QI2011/019 – Hancock Alpha Coal Project (Port Area Native Title Group)

 

Parties to the Galilee Basin shell game: The Greens

When The Australia Institute became the first entity of any kind to acknowledge that Matt Canavan placed the name of the Adani rail project – that was in line for the 1 billion NAIF loan – on the public record in February 2017, I was sent into a flurry of activity to find senate estimates hearings with NAIF and ONA staff to see what had been said by Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters at two key senate estimates hearings that both followed revelations of the Adani rail project name via answers to questions on notice arising from previous hearings. I was also compelled to review the senate NAIF inquiry transcripts to see how Janet Rice and Richard Di Natale allowed the NAIF inquiry hearing to pass without any mention of Matt Canavan’s revelations from February and May.

To me it was understandable that Labor and LNP senators would have an interest in helping mask details of the rail corridor from scrutiny, but not the Greens. Surely the Greens would have an interest in exposing Matt Canavan breaching his own standards of “commercial-in-confidence”, and allowing the public the opportunity to have the fullest possible knowledge of developments in the Galilee Basin to help inform their choices.

The first of these hearings was on March 2, 2017, two weeks after Matt Canavan had issued his answer to a Question On Notice from Larissa Waters from October 2016. I found no actual reference to QoN SI.36 by Scott Ludlam during the March 2 senate estimates hearing, but I found an exchange in which Ludlam, Canavan, and NAIF CEO Laurie Walker failed to acknowledge the communication placed on record by Matt Canavan in February 2017. While the bureaucrat Walker can hide behind protocol, and Matt Canavan can say in his defence “what’s an entity?”, Ludlam was perfectly free to acknowledge the very clear response from Matt Canavan to his colleague’s question on notice. Scott Ludlam had every opportunity to put it to the NAIF CEO and Matt Canavan that Adani Mining Pty Ltd were the likely proponent since they are the proponent for the mine and rail projects listed with the Queensland Department of State Development who are charged with coordinating the mine, rail, and water projects for the Carmichael mine/Galilee Basin coal complex.

Senator LUDLAM: On notice if you need to, can anybody at the table please shed some light on which particular Adani entity has applied for the loan? I understand it is quite a complex corporate structure and there are various shell entities and goodness knows what else. Which particular entity is it that has lodged the request for assistance?
Senator Canavan: I am not aware.
Senator LUDLAM: I will maybe put that to Ms Walker.
Ms Walker: The NAIF has a protocol that it treats all its business dealings as commercial in confidence.
Senator LUDLAM: The minister announced one of them last December, so that is not working out super well.
Ms Walker: There are very limited exceptions for information that is able to be disclosed publicly; it is agreed with some of the proponents.
Senator LUDLAM: Are you heading towards not being able to tell us which particular Adani entity you are dealing with?
Ms Walker: Yes, because from a financing perspective, which the NAIF is, we regard it as very important to maintain the commercial in confidence information.

Link: Senate Hansard March 2, 2017 

Another exchange caught my eye due to the suggestion by Labor’s Chris Ketter that NAIF protocol may have been breached by the release of unspecified information. The NAIF CEO Walker said that her organisation did not breach protocol and the Office of Northern Australia – Head, Mark Coffey said that the protocol had recently changed. Matt Canavan indicated that he had made public comment about the Adani rail project loan application, but did not specify the type of public comment. Matt Canavan indicated that he spoke to the “proponent” before making public comments to ensure they were “comfortable” with the information he was sharing. From the below exchange we can assume that the information Matt Canavan had sought permission to share is an exception to the “commercial-in-confidence” arrangements often presented by Matt Canavan, his office, and NAIF and Office of Northern Australia staff.

Senator KETTER: Ms Walker, could you give us a breakdown of the four projects that are in the due diligence stage, in the same way that you have done with the inquiry stage? How would you characterise those? I think we know that one is a pipeline.
Ms Walker: I have given you a breakdown at the very high level, because we obviously want to be as transparent as we can with the pipeline. But I think to break down four deals that are in due diligence would be revealing information about those transactions, and our protocol would be that we maintain commercial-in-confidence of what those projects are.
Senator KETTER: I am sorry; I said pipeline before. I think you told us that one of those four projects is a rail link.
Ms Walker: Yes.
Senator KETTER: So we know that.
Ms Walker: As I said, we have a protocol that has a very limited exception as to information that we can disclose, and we can on that one under our protocol. But I am not at liberty to reveal the others at this moment.
Senator KETTER: I am a bit confused as to why we can know one of those four but not the other three.
Ms Walker: As I said, our general protocol is that we regard all business information in relation to proponents—whether or not a proponent has approached us—as information that is commercial-in-confidence that can give signals to the market that are valuable. Perhaps when I respond on that other question—the question on notice—about why we wish to maintain commercial-in-confidence, that would be the way I would like to handle it.
Senator KETTER: Has there been a breach of protocol in relation to the rail link project?
Ms Walker: NAIF have not breached a protocol.
Mr Coffey: Senator, maybe I can answer that. Last year in estimates I answered that question and at the time that high-level information was released through my office and there was not a breach of protocol at that time. NAIF have a policy now that they treat that information as commercial-in-confidence and they will maintain that.
Senator KETTER: So there has been a change in policy?
Ms Walker: As clarification: on that particular deal, we had the consent of the proponent to acknowledge that they have expressed interest in approaching the NAIF. That is the information that I have made public.
Senator Canavan: While I am obviously not party to the protocols and policies of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility—and it is a matter for them—I only commented publicly on that particular project after speaking to the proponent and ensuring that they were comfortable with that. I have not sought to do the same with other projects, because there simply is not the same level of public interest. That is of course a judgement call on my behalf, but I am trying to be as open as I can. In fairness to Adani, while I am not here to talk to them, they have not tried to hide anything either. They are being completely open and upfront about their project. There will certainly be a lot of commentary on it and a lot of interest in it.

Link: Senate Hansard March 2, 2017

QoN AI.70 is a set of written questions by Larissa Waters, submitted after the March 2 estimates hearing and directed to Matt Canavan’s office. Question 3 reads:

3. When the Minister publicly announced in early December last year that the NAIF is looking into the Adani rail proposal did he discuss that with you or your office before he let the media know? a. If yes how was it communicated – phone or email?

The answer to Question 3 was published a little over a week before the June 1, 2017 senate estimates hearing and contains the second revelation of the Adani-NAIF project name. Waters made no mention of this or the previous revelation in her extensive questioning of NAIF and ONA staff on June 1, 2017.

3. As the Minister stated at Senate Estimates there has been no public formal announcement from Government.
The NAIF had informed the Minister via email that Adani had consented to disclose the following:
‘Adani has expressed interest in accessing the NAIF facility, for the purposes of supporting the North Galilee Basin Railway Project.’

Download link: QoN SI.36

Download link: QoN AI.70

Waters and Ludlam had been sidelined by the time the first and only hearing in the senate NAIF inquiry took place. Senators Rice and Di Natale were in attendance for the Greens and did not mention the two answers to questions on notice that explicitly named the North Galilee Basin Rail Project as the Adani project in line for the NAIF loan. They did not seize on Australian Conservation Foundation and Environmental Justice Australia lawyer David Barnden’s mention of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the December 2016 Courier mail article which broke the news.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Mr Barnden, could you just assist us by giving me on notice the reference to where in Hansard you say the NAIF board spoke about Adani and what processes they were proceeding with at NAIF on the Adani application?
Mr Barnden: Yes, we can take that on notice.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: You’ve said that the NAIF board have discussed it, and I just wish you to—
Mr Barnden: I believe there’s a Senate estimates answer to question on notice SI-35, 20 October 2016, which states that Adani and NAIF have been in discussions. There was also a Courier Mail article in early December 2016 which—
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Not everything that’s in the Courier Mail—
Mr Barnden: Yes, but there’s been no public response by NAIF refuting that.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: But you’re suggestion NAIF are going through the process. I just want the reference to that because I know that’s not true and I’d like to see the reference.
Mr Barnden: If you can tell us any more about NAIF not analysing the Adani proposal, we’d be welcome to hear it.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: No, no. This is the point: your submission and those of the previous witnesses are based entirely upon Adani, and yet—
Senator RICE: The minister acknowledges it.

Senator DI NATALE: The minister has acknowledged it. Don’t expect the witness to refute what is patently false.
CHAIR: Senator Macdonald, the witness has agreed to take your question on notice, so have you got another question?
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Yes. I am asking: do you have any evidence at all—real evidence—that Adani have made application and put in the necessary applications, and, if so, what is that evidence?
Senator DI NATALE: If you’d paid more attention at Senate estimates you would have seen that NAIF confirmed that Adani had applied for the loan.

Download link: NAIF inquiry hearing August 11, 2017

As I outlined in my blog post Confirmation that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the Adani rail project being considered by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Tom Swann had seen QoN SI.36 as early as July 2017 and acknowledged to me on twitter that he was aware of it coming into the inquiry and claimed he couldn’t recall on the day. When he was asked by Janet Rice to provide details, examples and time lines he stopped at a January 18 response from the NAIF to an FOI request. Janet Rice does not encourage him to continue the time line or press him to provide more concrete details, but she did come to some agreement stating “So the NAIF, Adani and the statements from the government all seem to be intersecting and influencing each other quite inappropriately.”

Tom Swann knew full well that QoN SI.36 and QoN AI.70 superseded the Renee Veilaris exclusive from December 2016 in terms of primary sources and yet he seemed to raise doubts about the sources for the article pointing out that the NAIF did not appear to be a source. Janet Rice had every opportunity during her time with Mr Swann to press him to reveal the very specific revelations of the 2 offending QoNs, but did not.

Senator RICE: Thank you, Mr Swann and Mr Campbell. There are very clear recommendations in your submissions about how the NAIF could operate and how it is currently operating. I want to focus on your concerns regarding political interference with the NAIF, which you mentioned in your submission and in your testimony just then, and the contradictory statements made by Adani in terms of their relationship with the NAIF. Can you talk us through in more detail your concerns with political interference—including, if you have some details, time lines and specific examples?
Mr Swann: Sure. The NAIF was announced in the ’15-’16 budget and was actually set up in the ’16-’17 budget. There were media reports that Adani had applied quite early on, but the controversy really took off on 3 December when there was a front page Courier-Mail story. Interestingly, the NAIF itself was no part of this story, and it was not clear where the story came from. On 5 December, a couple of days later, the Adani spokesperson boasted that the loan was not critical. We have obviously applied because it is available. It doesn’t mean it’s make or break for the project. Interestingly, at the same time, Minister Canavan promoted the project and promoted the loan, and emphasised that it will be a multiuser rail line. On 6 December I had some correspondence with the NAIF in which they refused to acknowledge that the proposal even existed. On 18 January, in response to an FOI request, the NAIF refused to say that it had any documents containing the words ‘Adani’ or ‘Galilee’ or ‘Carmichael’—
Senator IAN MACDONALD: But that doesn’t worry you at all—
Mr Swann: on the basis that it would breach confidence—
Senator IAN MACDONALD: You still assume—
Mr Swann: It wasn’t that there were no documents but rather that to even consider whether there were documents or not would prejudice their decision-making. So how could it be that an independent agency that was assessing a proposal was bound to confidentiality while the minister could essentially run national PR for the proposal?
Senator RICE: Yes. Indeed. Then ongoing from that—other issues in terms of that?
Mr Swann: There was another example of the issue around Adani’s boast that the loan was not critical for it to go ahead. On 4 May, Adani announced that it had promised to buy steel from Arrium, from the steelworks in Whyalla, and this was touted as a lifeline for the Whyalla Steelworks, despite the fact that it represented less than two per cent of the steelworks’ capacity for about 2½ years. So it really was quite small, as the Whyalla Steelworks spokesperson acknowledged at the Adani press conference. But, at the same time, Adani said that it would go ahead with this order, regardless of whether it got the NAIF loan. So again there are real questions about why the NAIF didn’t, at that point, dismiss the application. And then, on 7 June, suddenly Adani changed its mind: the day after having given the investment proposal the so-called green light, it said that the funding was critical, and that subsequent requirements from state and Commonwealth to make the rail project an open-access common-user line increased costs. But, as I said, it has always been a multiuser rail line. The word ‘multiuser’ is in the first sentence of Adani’s 2013 environmental impact statement.
Senator RICE: So the NAIF, Adani and the statements from the government all seem to be intersecting and influencing each other quite inappropriately.
Mr Swann: Absolutely. And that raises real concerns. The NAIF has made a lot of noise about its confidentiality, and much more noise about its confidentiality than the projects that it is assessing. If we accept what the NAIF has said—that that’s really important—it raises incredibly big concerns about the way that the minister and the proponent have been allowed to promote their project in the national media in the intervening period.

Download link: NAIF inquiry hearing August 11, 2017

Ian MacDonald pressed Tom Swann for what Murray Watt called “real evidence”. The committee secretariat presented the chair (Chris Ketter) with the text of QoN SI.35 which was mentioned earlier in the hearing by David Barnden. That text does not go as far as QoN SI.36 in confirming that Adani are indeed “in discussions” with the NAIF over a rail project as it does not expressly name the rail project while strongly suggesting the likely rail project. It’s clear that in this exchange was another opportunity missed for senators Rice and Di Natale. They would have seen all the responses to Larissa Waters’ questions on notice and would have known that QoNs SI.36 and AI.70 were a more appropriate and powerful response to questions about primary sources.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You acknowledged to Senator Hume that NAIF have said something publicly about Genex, because Genex apparently gave them approval to do it. Do you have any real evidence at all of Adani making an application, whether the facts and figures have gone in or whether NAIF has actually been investigating it? Do you have any evidence at all?
Mr Swann: The proponent has repeatedly discussed its application. This is a quote I read out before: ‘We have applied for it because it’s available.’ That was 5 December. The minister wrote an opinion piece about why it was a good idea to provide this loan and, again, promoting that it was multiuser. That was on 8 December. I cannot refer to it, I’ll have to take it on notice, but I do remember seeing a note on Hansard in which the NAIF acknowledged that the Adani proposal was one of the proposals they were considering, yes.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: I’ve asked previous witnesses for that. Give me that Hansard.
Senator WATT: It sound like real evidence.
Mr Swann: In the last week, or maybe this week, the Australian CEO of Adani was in the media discussing how big a loan might be required from the NAIF by Adani and expressing that there was some uncertainty around that. So there have certainly been repeated references.
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Can you on notice refer me to that? Which paper was that in?
Mr Swann: Um—
Senator IAN MACDONALD: Doesn’t matter.
CHAIR: Senator Macdonald, in the interests of the record here, you have asked questions about this a couple of times. The secretariat has pointed out to me that in answer to question on notice at supplementary budget estimates on 20 October last year, the NAIF said:
I can confirm that discussions have occurred between Adani Australia representatives and the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility in respect of their rail project in the north Galilee Basin. These discussion are commercial in confidence and we are unable to provide further information.

Download link: NAIF inquiry hearing August 11, 2017

 

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.

Completely Spooked or Relieved of Duty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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