We Suspect Silence

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

Tag: North Galilee Basin Rail

Plan B, Separable Portion 1 and the new Adani proponent

Plan B

Adani launched ‘Plan B’ on September 13, 2018.

Adani are retaining a 200 km section of the often quoted 388km “Carmichael Rail Project” (a fictional project). That 200km section is made up of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR), Separable Portion 1 (SP1) – 78km and the remnants of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) which we can suppose is roughly 120km.

On September 14 I had a conference call with the media team at the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSD). They asked me a lot of questions about my interest in when and how Adani had switched proponents for the NGBR and added a joint proponent to CCMR. I gave them my theories about the ENGOs, think tanks, the Greens, and non-NewsCorp newspapers avoiding mentioning the NGBR as it would highlight the Traditional Owners who signed with Adani in 2014.

At one stage in our call the DSD media people indicated that I may have to submit a right to information request to discover the date Adani made communication with them indicating that there was a new proponent, and the date the DSD website was updated. They also said something about there being “no time limit” for Adani to inform the DSD that there was a change of proponent. The idea that there is no time limit for a change of proponent leaves me with many questions about what it took to legally change proponents (for the world’s largest proposed coal project) and how easy it may have been for Adani to stealth in a new proponent, approvals, and accreditations. Indeed the approvals and accreditations granted by the DTMR and DNRM in May and September of 2017 have confirmed to me that it is absolutely necessary to identify the exact date and procedure for transferring proponents between companies within a conglomerate like Adani.

On September 19 I received a call back from Rebecca, the Adani media person. Rebecca was able to confirm that Adani had sent a communication to the Qld DSD in March 2018 asking to change the name of the listed proponent for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) and add a new proponent to the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR). They were also able to confirm that the DSD added the new proponent names to their website, ‘project overview’ pages in May 2018. It is on these DSD hosted pages that the key project information such as EIS documents are provided.

Here’s a link to the National Library of Australia web archive showing that on March 18, 2018 Adani Mining Pty Ltd were listed as the proponent for the NGBR.

http://webarchive.nla.gov.au/gov/20180324190301/http://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/north-galilee-basin-rail-project.html

Here’s a link to the DSD project overview page for the NGBR which shows that the new proponent is Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd.

http://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/north-galilee-basin-rail-project.html

PlanAPlanB

The North Galilee Basin Rail Project became the Carmichael Rail Network when Plan B was announced

Accreditations and Approvals

On May 15, 2017 the Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was accredited as a ‘rail transport operator’ by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR). On September 24, 2018 I sent a set of questions to DTMR asking them to provide information about how and when Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd applied for and received accreditation. I can expect a response by October 16, 2018.

Here’s a link to the download page for Rail Regulator’s Reports:

‘Rail Regulator’s Report 2016–17: A report on safety performance on the rail network in Queensland’. ‘Appendix 1: Accredited Rail Transport Operators as at 30 June 2017’. https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Safety/Rail-safety/Rail-regulator-yearly-report

It should be noted that, according to a report by Jenny Wiggins on September 14, 2018, the Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd had no employees and $1000 in assets at the end of the 2016/17 financial year. If this is the case then DTMR gave accreditation to nothing but a shell company.

Aecom’s contract was with Carmichael Rail Network, a subsidiary of Adani. But as its most recent annual report for the year ending March 2017, the Carmichael Rail Network had no employees and only $1000 in assets.

 

 

The ABC’s Stephen Long reported in March 2017 that Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd were assigned the royalty deed sold to Adani by Linc Energy in August of 2014. Long described Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as a “shell company”.

But in August 2014, in dire financial straits, Linc Energy agreed to sell the royalty deed back to Adani at a fire sale price: just $150 million.

The obvious course would have been to extinguish the royalty deed, because it represented a multi-billion-dollar liability for the mine which is ultimately owned by Adani Enterprises Ltd, the Bombay-stock exchange listed company.

Instead, the royalty deed “was assigned by Linc Energy Limited to Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as trustee for Carmichael Rail Network Trust,” notes in financial reports of Adani Mining Pty Ltd say.

Carmichael Rail Network is one of a group of companies behind the proposed North Galilee Basin rail line, which Adani is currently seeking a subsidised loan of up to $1 billion from the Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to build.

“What this means is that one of the companies currently seeking up to $1 billion in public subsidy is going to profit to the tune of up to $3 billion if the mine goes ahead,” Mr Walters said.

Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the proponent of the Carmichael mine and the holder of its environmental approvals, appears to have lent Carmichael Rail the funds to buy the royalty deed.

A spokesman for the Adani Group said the subsidiary assigned to the royalty right was an Australian registered and regulated company and “as such it pays all applicable Australian taxes charges”.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-14/adani-carmichael-coalmine-to-shift-millions-to-cayman-islands/8350704

Long’s reporting relied on analysis from the Adam Walters at Energy and Resource Insights based in Sydney. It appears that it was Walters who provided the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, and Environmental Justice Australia intelligence regarding an Adani report to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission indicating that among the “proponents” for the “Carmichael Rail Project” is “Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd”.

2. According to company filings to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission
dated 1 July 2015, the Australian domiciled Carmichael Rail Pty Ltd and Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd as trustee for the Carmichael Rail Network Trust are the “proponents of the Carmichael Rail Project”.

It was announced on June 6, 2017 that AECOM had a contract to build the rail link from the Carmichael mine to the port. While some reports used the term “Carmichael Rail Network” none specified that the contract was not with the existing proponent (according to the DSD website) Adani Mining Pty Ltd who made ILUAs for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project in 2014 and who were responsible for satisfying ‘unprecedented’ environmental conditions in seeking approvals for the Carmichael mine and associated rail corridors.

At the time of the AECOM contract announcement Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd had held rail transport operator accreditation for only 3 weeks. The announcement of the AECOM contract preceded the publication of the 2016/17 regulator’s report which also shows that Adani Mining Pty Ltd had ceased to possess accreditation.

On September 19, 2017 Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd was added as an ‘approved entity’ for the purposes of ‘Riverine Protection Permit Exemption Requirements’. The available documents don’t indicate if Adani Mining Pty Ltd have ever applied for, or been added as an ‘approved entity’.

Riverine protection permits allow entities doing work around water ways of various types to conduct earth works. Exemptions are sometimes given by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines for significant works.

It is quite possible that no information was available about the ‘approved entity’ status of Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd until after the creation date for the below linked document – August 7, 2018.

1.03 19/09/2017 Carmichael Rail Network Pty Ltd added as approved entity.

https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/?a=109113%3apolicy_registry%2friverine-protection-permit-exemption-requirements.pdf

Separable Portion 1

In early 2015 Jerome Fahrer provided an affidavit on behalf of Adani in proceedings brought by Land Services of Coast and Country Inc and Conservation Action Trust. Included in the instructions from Peter Stokes, a partner at McCullough Robertson Laywers who were engaged by Adani Mining Pty Ltd are three intriguing points.

Given that Peter Stokes was engaged and presumably briefed by Adani, the significance of the revelations made in the three points under the heading ‘Rail alignment’, must be recognised.

Once you know what “SP1” is the picture becomes clearer. SP1 stands for Separable Portion 1, the first section of the proposed 189km rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR). As the points below show, in early 2015 it was known that less than half of the CCMR rail corridor was going to be retained.

14 As you know, Adani is proceeding with the North Galilee [Basin] Rail Project alignment in preference to the full rail alignment as set out in the EIS and SEIS. The investment associated with this has been calculated at $2.2 billion.

15 However, a portion (but not all) of SP1 as presented in the EIS and SEIS will also be constructed, representing the first approximately 70 kilometres of the rail leading from the mine itself. The investment associated with the whole of the rail aspect of the project is approximately $2.5B (inclusive of contingency and transactional costs).

16 The revised SP1 alignment will no longer connect directly with the existing Goonyella or Newlands rail system.

http://envlaw.com.au/wp-content/uploads/carmichael43A.pdf

The reason that the admissions made in the instructions to Jerome Fahrer are so significant is because they show that the “rail” component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) had been reduced to less than half only months after the final approvals were given by state and federal governments.

The name of the CCMR suggests that it’s rail component is so significant that it needed to be included in the project name unlike most mines which do not include the rail component in the name. Indeed the majority of Separable Portion 1 is located on Jannga country. The Jannga People represented by Bulganunna Aboriginal Corporation made 2 ILUAs with Adani Mining Pty Ltd for both the NGBR and CCMR. The National Native Title Tribunal numbers for the two Jannga-Adani ILUAs are: QI2014/065 and QI2014/022.

The reality is that the rail component of the CCMR as indicated on the DSD website ‘project overview’ page was effectively severed from the mine project in late 2014 or early 2015. It’s likely that the Jannga People ILUA for the CCMR covers Separable Portion 1 and the Jannga People ILUA for the NGBR covers the remnant Plan B corridor which extends to the eastern boundary of the Jannga People’s determination area.

Separable Portion 1 is only mentioned in two types of documents: EIS documents for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR), and two documents associated with Jerome Fahrer and the consulting firm he leads called ACIL Allen.

In my briefing in the lead up to the senate NAIF inquiry in 2017 I highlight an unreferenced statement about the composition of the 388km the “rail link” by ACIL Allen in their report for the NAIF inquiry commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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.

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

Here’s a quote from an archive copy of the Adani Australia website, media releases section from November 1, 2015 (the earliest available).

The NGBR, the principal component of the company’s planned 388 km rail link from Carmichael to the port at Abbot Point, will be Queensland’s first standard gauge rail line, helping drive lower costs for Adani and other producers by with the longest, highest capacity trains for coal haulage in Australia.

https://web.archive.org/web/20160104010448/http://www.adaniaustralia.com:80/media/media-releases

The above statement is an acknowledgement of the reality of the fictional “Carmichael Rail Project”. If NGBR is the “principle” component, then Separable Portion 1 is the secondary component. By a fictional creation, a fake name that was unquestioned in the media, among ENGO spokespeople, and their think tank allies Adani masked the composition of their rail link. Through the withholding of information by both Adani and the Queensland and federal governments no reliable or intelligible information sources existed when needed. This created a situation where marginalised Traditional Owners, campaign groups, and the public could not analyse and determine what was really happening.

Additionally, the acknowledgements made in the instructions given by Adani Mining Pty Ltd legal representatives were entirely ignored by organisations like the Australian Conservation Foundation and Land Services of Coast and Country Inc. These organisations are well networked into the StopAdani coalition/alliance. Ignoring the significance of Separable Portion 1 may have strategically disadvantaged collective efforts at preventing the advancement of the Adani’s rail corridor plans.

The statement below from the introduction to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) EIS documents shows that Adani preferred the more direct route offered by the NGBR. I am left wondering if Adani ever intended to actually build the rail component of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR). It seems quite possible that they pursued a less desirable corridor in order to attach a significant rail project to the mine. By presenting a fictional name for the connected rail projects created the suggestion that the NGBR was part of the mine project itself and not a separate project.

The proposed Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project includes a 120 km portion of dual gauge rail that will run west to east from the mine site to Diamond Creek, and a 69 km narrow gauge portion that will run east from Diamond Creek and connect to the Goonyella rail system south of Moranbah. This would enable carriage of product coal over the existing narrow gauge networks either directly to the Port of Hay Point (Dudgeon Point Expansion) or indirectly to the Port of Abbot Point. As such, the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project rail infrastructure offers a short-term incremental solution that maintains port optionality, but is primarily only a medium – to long – term solution for export directly to Dudgeon Point.
Dual port capability for the export of coal is required by Adani to insure against potential force majeure conditions that may affect one of the mine-to-port supply chain routes. In addition, dual port capability will help to accommodate any future production increases from Adani and/or third-party mines in the Galilee Basin, which may exceed the capacity of one port. Given Adani’s interests in the existing and proposed export facilities at the Port of Abbot Point ( refer Section 1.4), a highly efficient, long-term and more direct transport route to the port was identified as a key business requirement.

 

Cut n paste journalists and busy people, could, and have quite reasonably assumed that the viability of the rail line would be impacted by any success achieved by the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council in their efforts to stop the mine. These assumption were made possible by the absence of investigation of the political and economic context of the negotiation of ILUAs for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. As I have pointed out many many times, the Stop Adani coalition/alliance NGOs and think tanks, the Fairfax, Guardian Australia, and ABC have consistently avoided investigating the reality of the diversity of Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin coal complex area.

Here’s a map that was provided to DNRM in March 2016 and only made available in a right to information disclosure in February 2018. Neither Adani nor the Queens;land government saw fit to release this very enlightening map when it would have been valuable for public understanding. I have not been able to ascertain which organisation made the initial RTI (DNRM 15-315) that yielded this map. I am left to assume that they did not have an interest in sharing it with the public.

Traditional Owner Areas_map_Adani_March 2016_2

 

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Reinforcing False Narratives in the Galilee Basin Coal Complex: A Double Book Review

My review which was originally published at Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.

On the 5th of November 2012 I emailed Ben Pennings for the first time. I felt I had received an education in thinking on environmental issues through his Facebook page Generation Alpha which was light-years ahead in quality of content compared to that put out by the environmental NGOs that were prominent at the time. A month later we organised a Zombie attack on my former employer, the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. A year later we were shareholder activists at the AGM of the Galilee Basin rail frontrunner Aurizon. We pitched legally vetted questions about activists blocking trains on the vast Aurizon networks. Months later Ben and I were both part of the founding Galilee Blockade group. My focus was capacity building for long term blockading while broadcasting the capacity we were building. I brought in a former military capability specialist turned anti-fracking and holistic agriculture campaigner. Some of our members joined in on a tour of the Galilee Basin with the recently arrived 350 dot org. Our members pitched our plans by a camp fire in the bush, and if my memory of the events conveyed to me by Galilee Blockade members serves me correctly, our plans were roundly dismissed. There were other plans afoot.

 

Double review books

‘The Coal Truth: The fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy’ by David Ritter, with chapters by Adrian Burragubba, John Quiggin, Geoff Cousins and others. UWA Publishing

The first thing you should know about Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter is that he’s a highly regarded and widely cited native title lawyer. Having acted for Traditional Owners in the Pilbara region, and authored articles and books on the subject, he ought to be very familiar with the Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) who become prominent players when it comes to the pointy end of negotiations over Indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs). He ought to be able to comprehend the likely state of play for all the Traditional Owners affected by the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex better than most people. And yet, on the subject of native title rights, Ritter effectively hands the mic to one representative of a faction of only one of the Traditional Owner communities who’ve negotiated with Adani.

When you shine a spotlight on one individual, group, or faction you cast all others into darkness. Spotlighting is my name for what the StopAdani coalition do to Traditional Owners. Invisiblisation of certain inconvenient Traditional Owners is the net effect of spotlighting. I am left with questions about those Traditional Owner groups who are left in the shadows. It seems to me, for the sake of justice and proper investigation of the political economy of a coal complex, that the diversity of Traditional Owners should be considered. I’ve been left with these questions:

How can one representative’s position represent all Traditional Owners?

Are not the Juru, Birri, and Jannga peoples worth mentioning?

Were they not also threatened with compulsory acquisition?

I believe that the testimony of Juru elder Carol Prior is entirely worthy of inclusion in any history of this ‘war over coal’.

In his introductory chapter Ritter recalls an email conversation with Robert Manne in which he highlights the importance of “truth-telling” in social movements. Reading this made me think of the suggestion embedded in the book’s title and prompted me to ask myself “Does this book contain the ‘whole truth’?”. My answer to that question is a resounding “No!”.

If Ritter was telling the whole truth he would have been very clear about the name of the rail project that was in line for Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) funding and likely the subject of Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) considerations. Greenpeace AP cleverly avoided naming the rail project in their ‘OffTrack’ report from December 2016 in which they substituted the actual project name, the ‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project’ which appears on 3 crucial ILUAs, for the fictional project name listed on the Adani Australia website, the ‘Carmichael Rail Project’.

If Ritter was telling the whole truth he would have stated that the Rockefeller Family Fund, Graeme Wood Foundation, and Bob Burton (with his extensive networks) helped John Hepburn get the ‘Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom’ plan and funding together. It’s not surprising that Ritter does not mention Hepburn’s Sunrise Project and it’s relationship with John Podesta, the Climateworks Foundation and the Sandler Foundation as revealed by Wikileaks in the Podesta emails. I encourage you to have a look at the phalanx of impact philanthropists who were also recipients of Hepburns update emails. They come across as very much like venture capitalists, but instead of their objective being profits, they seem to be more concerned with shaping the discourse and the institutional underpinnings of resistance.

If Ritter et al were telling the whole truth (half the book is filled with essays by ‘leaders’ like John Quiggin, Will Steffen, and Geoff Cousins) they would have lamented that the majority of the Stop Adani coalition/alliance members ignored content and reportage of direct actions on their social media accounts. Direct actions by Frontline Action on Coal occurred in the Galilee and Bowen basins, and on Juru lands near Abbot Point starting in September 2017. Each of these actions materially slowed work being done by Adani and it’s contractors. In October 2017 I had an email conversation with 350 dot org dot au CEO Blair Palese about the sorry situation of direct actions involving arrests that were receiving little to no amplification from the institutions that existed to further the aims of those protesters. Palese explained to me that the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission had been investigating 350 AU and other organisations, and it was identified that sharing certain content could compromise campaign efforts. The saddest example of this rather feeble explanation was when, 6 hours into the first ever direct action against Adani in the Galilee Basin, Missy Higgins announced her new role as ‘StopAdani ambassador’. I urged her through Twitter to make her first act as an ambassador to celebrate the efforts of activists in physically stopping machinery. Sadly there was no sharing of direct action content or coverage from the new ambassador. I’ve come to believe that the StopAdani coalition/alliance members value the brands and institutions they maintain so much that they are not prepared to compromise them in order to share the whole truth of direct actions.

 

‘Adani and the War Over Coal’ by Quentin Beresford. NewSouth Publishing

Quentin Beresford is in the unique position of being the supervisor for the only published academic investigation that covers ILUA negotiations with Adani relating to the Galilee Basin coal complex. An honours thesis by Kate Arnautovic was drafted in early 2017 shortly before Justice Reeves determined that the March 2016 “self-determined” meeting facilitated by the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council (W&J FC) was not properly constituted as a legitimate authorisation meeting under the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA). Arnautovic’s thesis focussed on the history of negotiations between Adani and the Wangan and Jagalingou People of which the W&J FC are a faction. I can only guess at why the Arnautovic thesis focusses on only one Traditional Owner group in the development of a coal complex.

Beresford ought to be familiar with Principle 1 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) – Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (GERAIS) which is about “recognition of diversity and uniqueness of peoples”. Beresford was co-supervisor on a 2015 doctoral thesis on ‘ethical research in Indigenous contexts’ which covered the various sets of ethical guidelines available including those developed by AIATSIS. But no guidelines provide detail about the ethics of ignoring Indigenous communities in selecting research subjects and framing research questions. The question that Beresford must ask himself is:

“Would the Juru, Birri, Jannga, and Wangan and Jagalingou peoples benefit from academic research into native title negotiations with Adani across the entire coal complex area?”

The collected works of John Quiggin, Kristen Lyons and Morgan Brigg were written in partnership with the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council in a project hosted by the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland called ‘We Are The People From That Land: Centring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Transition to a Sustainable, Low-Carbon Future’. These collected works were written by academics and published on progressive online platforms, but they contain no references or citations. Instead they rely on published and unpublished testimony from members of the W&J FC . The scope and framing of these works did not include all Traditional Owner groups who negotiated with Adani. Here too the mine and the Traditional Owners of the proposed mine location were the focus. The fact that Adani have all of the necessary rail corridor ILUAs in place was somehow contextually insignificant.

Each of the seven pieces of writing that make the collected works of Quiggin et al were published after Justice Reeves’ April 2017 judgement regarding the March 2016 “self-determined” meeting. But the existence of Justice Reeves determination was never acknowledged, and hence evidence of the factional split was masked off from view. Quiggin et al were in the partnership to give a voice and legitimacy to a narrative position supported by Graeme Wood and the networks built and maintained by John Hepburn and the Sunrise Project. In their first piece ‘Unfinished Business’ they paraphrased their W&J FC partners, but by the end of their New Matilda series called ‘Killing Country’ the authors had fashioned a talking point that the poorly constituted “self determined” meeting was “bona fide”. The Federal Court, and more specifically, Justice Reeves is the final arbiter of what, under the NTA, can be deemed to be “bona fide”. Any claim about the legitimacy of a native title authorisation meeting, no matter how righteous, must satisfy the requirements of the NTA. The false claims made about the March 2016 meeting after April 2017 only serve to misinform the public and can only exist because Quiggin et al, the W&J FC, David Ritter, Anthony Esposito, Tony McCoy and Quentin Beresford remain silent when they ought to provide a position.

Marcia Langton has provided the most important criticism of the W&J FC alliances and messaging. In a piece titled ‘Adani, native title and risky strategies’ published in The Saturday Paper in July 2017 Langton lays her arguments at the feet of Tony McAvoy and to a lesser extent Adrian Burragubba. McAvoy is the nephew of Burragubba; a W&J man; Australia’s first and most highly established Indigenous silk; and a native title lawyer of high regard. McAvoy didn’t author a reply to Langton preferring to let journalist Joshua Robertson share his very general dismissals of her arguments, namely: that there were indeed other Traditional Owners who have negotiated with Adani; that the McGlade amendments weren’t about the W&J Adani ILUA; and that Graeme Wood and the Sunrise Project had provided substantial financial support to establish the W&J FC. Beresford does not mention Marcia Langton or Warren Mundine. Langton’s name does not appear in the index, nor does her The Saturday Paper piece appear in the bibliography. Beresford dedicates 5 words to Langton and Mundine, “criticism from some Aboriginal spokespeople” without ever mentioning their names.

Beresford attends to accusations that the Sunrise Project provided funding to the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council in 2014, but only in the context of so called ‘conservative” media. While Hepburn has admitted that some “logistical support” was provided to the W&J FC, the true nature of that support has never been forthcoming. Beresford paraphrases Hepburn’s argument that it ought not be shocking or surprising that a Clinton senior advisor was being briefed on developments in the campaign. This argument ignores the significance of the collected impact philanthropies represented in the list of email recipients and the crucial role played by John Podesta and the Clinton Foundation in the politics and business of climate change. Beresford argues that Hillary Clinton has a commitment to “implementing the Paris agreement”, but if you look at Podesta’s efforts with the Climateworks Foundation, The Clinton Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’, and the Democrat’s support for the suite of new carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) bills, you will see a pattern of support for continued fossil fuel use. Hepburn’s emails to Podesta and others are a lot more significant than Beresford suggests. Hepburn indicated that he was prepared to go to extreme lengths to hide knowledge of the funding of his organisation and the relationship it had with the spotlighted Traditional Owner faction for the StopAdani coalition/alliance.

The most important piece of infrastructure in the Galilee Basin coal complex is the rail line, the means of export for up to a dozen mines. The rail project in question is mentioned only twice in Beresford’s book and does not appear in the index. The North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) is listed with the Queensland Department of State Development (DSD). No link appears in the bibliography which contains no more than a handful of references that name or make reference to primary source documents that confirm that the NGBR is Adani’s preferred rail project.

The NGBR was named in 2016 when the Queensland Minister for State Development Anthony Lynham announced that the ‘combined project’ was now a “critical infrastructure” project and it was named when the Queensland premier issued her veto letter to Adani stopping the controversial Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) concessional loan. As Lissa Schindler of Brisbane based figurehead group the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said recently regarding the NGBR link “It’s their Achilles heel – if we stop the railway we stop the mines.”. While people like Michael West and Adrian Burragubba might argue that Adani can’t build their rail line without the Carmichael mine, I would contend that the opposite is true. No mines can be built in the Galilee Basin without a standard gauge rail line. Understanding the negotiations and relationships that make the NGBR possible are imperative if any efforts to stop colonised neo-liberal forces from opening up the Galilee Basin for decades of mining are to be successful.

In November 2013 Adani reported that Cultural Heritage Management Plans (CHMPs) had been made with Traditional Owners along the NGBR corridor. The status of negotiations with the Juru, Birri, and Jannga peoples was discussed in the report. At this stage John Hepburn et al had worked with US based global foundations and local impact philanthropists to develop broad plans which had been shared across networks like the Climate Action Network Australia (CANA). Beresford asserts that these efforts were “at the grass roots”. I was here in Brisbane and watched as the networks were developed, and philanthropically incubated players like 350 dot org and Avaaz were introduced. There was no grass roots campaign, just the capture of the efforts of good but misguided people. Anti tar sands campaigners Macdonald Stainsby and Dru Oja Jay coined a term for this back in 2009, they called it “offsetting resistance”. In a fashion that would be familiar to the early climate justice campaigners against the Athabasca tar sands Wood, Burton and Hepburn cooked up a plan that laid a path for 350 dot org to set up in Australia. Networks were effectively exploited across environmental NGOs, the Greens party and the media to advance particular talking points and ignore primary sources that threatened to compromise an oversimplified narrative.

When former Melbourne based renewable energy and climate campaigner Ellen Roberts is introduced by Beresford she is presented as part of a small local team at the Mackay Conservation Group. Roberts was active with the MCG when they were working with the Environmental Defenders Office – New South Wales on a court case against Adani. EDO NSW like EDO Qld had been allocated funding under the Hepburn/Burton/Wood plan. Roberts now works for Get Up as the lead Queensland organiser and is an ordinary member on the Queensland Conservation Council executive. Both of these organisations help fund the MCG legal challenge. In 2013 the Sunrise Project partnered with The Change Agency and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW to create the Community Organising Fellowship. In 2014 Roberts, while at MCG, graduated from the fellowship.

In my March 2017 phone conversation with MCG coordinator Peter McCallum I was told that they had a tiny team that shared a limited number of full time roles. In 2013 and 2014 the MCG were staffed by imported personnel like Roberts and similarly the North Queensland Land Council employed former Greenpeace political lobbyists Jeremy Tager. It seems that the networks were always able to furnish ‘grassroots’ groups with new staff. Indeed the 8 months I spent in 2012 managing the Facebook page for the Friends of the Earth (FoE)- 6 Degrees team in Brisbane introduced me to a team, all of whom moved on to positions with Greenpeace, the Greens, Coast and Country, Market Forces and others I’m sure. In the years since that time I have realised the role FoE plays as an incubator. It gave the modern climate justice movement Ellen Roberts.

Impact philanthropists excel at marketing particular narratives and creating the impression among the public that well funded campaigns spring from the grass roots. They do this through partnerships, grants and most crucially the exploitation of networks. The best metaphor I can find for the way highly networked philanthropy works is the American football concept to ‘run inference’. At the heart of offensive strategy is the use of offensive team members to create opportunities for the ball carrier to score touch downs by interfering with defending players to create an unimpeded path to the end zone. In the same way the EDOs, Environmental Justice Australia, The Australia Institute, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis run interference for the StopAdani team.

In Ritter’s book former advertising mogul, environmental crusader and conservationist Geoff Cousins got given a whole chapter to talk about his scrambling visit to India. In Beresford’s book the business man and CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) also gets plenty of opportunity to speak, mostly about himself. The ACF effectively replaced the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the formal directorate for reef based campaigning in the lead up to the creation of the Stop Adani coalition. Over the 2016/17 summer break the Fight for the Reef campaign became the Fight for Our Reef campaign. In May 2017, the same month that the ACF published Michael West’s ‘Dirty Deeds’ report on the NAIF and Adani which contained no mentions of the NGBR, ACMS published their poorly referenced ‘fact sheet’ on the “Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project”. This document did mention the NGBR, but unlike the report commissioned for ACF by ACIL Allen for the senate NAIF inquiry, it quoted the rail corridor length for Adani’s fictional ‘Carmichael Rail Project’. This is a common mistake that has been made by amateurs and professionals. The NGBR length is listed as 310km while the combined length of NGBR and the rail component of Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) is 388km. My phone calls to ACMS staff did not reveal with any certainty who authored the fact sheet or if there was any willingness to improve the referencing. It was suggested to me at one stage that the fact sheet may have been prepared by StopAdani dot com.

Beresford’s book was drafted before the May 24 proceedings brought by Juru Enterprises Limited (JEL) against Adani and the Juru Aboriginal corporation Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation (KMYAC). The concerns highlighted in the court proceedings which I attended have been articulated by Juru common law holders from since at least the middle of 2015. The confused reporting of Advisian who consulted to the Queensland Department of State Development on the Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project provides evidence that the neither the DSD nor Advisian knew where they stood in terms of Cultural Heritage Management Plans (CHMPs) and which Juru body should deliver them. Justice Rares determined that KMYAC who were placed under examination by the regulator of Aboriginal corporations the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) in October 2016 and placed into special administration in October 2017 made invalid ancillary agreements with Adani which diverted funds to the struggling KMYAC. Justice Rares determined that JEL were the “Juru nominated body” for the purposes of the 2013 ILUA and ancillary agreements with Adani. JEL have complained recently that Adani have been unresponsive since Justice Rares judgement came down and are currently seeking a stop order so that proper CHMP assessments can made with the appropriate bodies.

Ben Smee from The Guardian Australia has the honour of being the first journalist outside the NewsCorp silo to report on the travails of KMYAC. He is more concerned with his informants in JEL and the Juru people opposed to ILUAs with Adani than he is about the parlous state of KMYACs finances. I have suggested to him through social media that he ought to look at the role played by the former KMYAC chair and her current employer, the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC). The NQLC are the NTRB for the Juru People. As such they have facilitated authorisation meetings with Adani for both JEL and KMYAC. They also provide anthropological services and legal support as well as having the responsibility to support good governance in Indigenous organisations for the benefit of Traditional Owner communities. The former chair of KMYAC is the director for the Townsville/Ayr Ward and the treasurer of the NQLC. If there is substance to Carol Prior’s concerns in 2014 that Traditional Owners on Palm Island had not been adequately notified of authorisation meetings for the Adani-NGBR ILUA, then the former KMYAC director is in the frame along with the NQLC.

Last week Ben Smee joined Bec Horridge on 3CR Earth Matters community radio show to talk about the concerns of his Juru informants. He didn’t mention the NQLC or how long Carol Prior has been loudly calling for transparency from KMYAC inside the Townsville Bulletin/NewsCorp silo. Bec Horridge followed on from her discussion with Smee to share her 2017 interview with Carol Prior along with a recording of a recent speech. Horridge has been sharing Carol Prior’s testimony wherever she can. I convinced a friend at 4ZZZ ECORADio to broadcast Carol Prior’s testimony, but other than the few opportunities Horridge has hustled, Carol Prior’s testimony has been ignored. The StopAdani coalition are happy to have ‘Aunty’ Carol’s face on film and share general statements about her fight, they like to call her ‘aunty’, but they don’t share her testimony like Bec Horridge does. The Stop Adani coalition/alliance, Ritter and Beresford completely ignore the struggles of the Juru people while telling heavily filtered story of the Galilee Basin coal complex.

The crucial role played by Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) is completely ignored by Beresford. Indeed it wasn’t until early in 2018 that either the W&J FC through their website or Quiggin et al in the Morgan Brigg instalment of Killing Country went into any detail about the what functions the Queensland South Native Title Service (QSNTS) actually serve in the delivery of an authorisation meeting. The very serious allegations made against Adani by Adrian Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson on behalf of the W&J FC necessarily implicate QSNTS. Indeed QSNTS staff would have to have allowed the alleged non-W&J people to attend and vote at the contested meeting. The contested registration of the April 2016 ILUA between the Wangan and Jagalingou People and Adani is the subject of a judgement held over from court proceedings in March 2018. If the judgement invalidates the ILUA then the Stop Adani coalition/alliance will claim a victory, but it will be the actions of QSNTS that will be in the frame exposing key failings of the native title system.

Tony McAvoy SC should be very familiar with the functioning of QSNTS having written in detail about the implementation of the 2007 reforms to the NTA and their implementation within the QSNTS. McAvoy sits on the Aboriginal Advisory Committee of the NSW EDO and in November 2017 he was a special guest along with Pat Anderson AO at the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) – Annual Dinner. ALHR are a partner in the Global Change Institute project for which Quiggin et al provided a voice. Did McAvoy advise that blame for manipulation of claim group member identification at the April 2016 authorisation meeting be squarely aimed at Adani rather than pointing the spotlight at the functions of the W&J People’s NTRB?

The native title system’s most crucial functions for delivering ownership-extinguishing contracts to miners are the simple majority votes at authorisation meetings by claim group members on ILUAs, and certifying the simple majority vote of the applicant group representing family and clan groups. Both of these functions are performed by NTRBs like QSNTS and the NQLC. If Adani has manipulated the native title system to secure ILUAs it has done it with the help of these 2 organisations and the ever present threat of compulsory acquisition by the state government. Only the interrogation of processes and accountabilities within bodies like the NNTT and ORIC can highlight the ways that the ILUA negotiation process, facilitation of claim group meetings, the execution and certification of ILUAs, and the limited non-commercially sensitive information provided to the NNTT for the purposes of accountability and arbitrating conflicts can mask manipulation of process by NTRBs.

Sometime after February 20, 2018 the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) published RTI 15-315 which contained Adani’s map of the Galilee Basin coal complex area featuring the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the boundaries of the four Traditional Owner groups along the NGBR corridor. This map had been provided to DNRM in early 2016. It would have been incredibly enlightening to the public if it had been made available back in 2016. I shared this map with StopAdani coalition/alliance members who took no interest.

Beresford follows the pattern set by StopAdani, the Qld state government, Adani, coalition member organisations, the ABC, The Guardian Australia, Fairfax, NewsCorp, and progressive and leftists media organisations in not telling the whole story and masking off the public’s access to primary sources and relevant discourses. The spotlighting of one Traditional Owner faction while largely ignoring all other groups, the silences around the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the signed ILUAs along it’s corridor, the silences about the struggles of the Juru People, and the tendency to ignore direct actions by Frontline Action on Coal and Galilee Blockade are the behaviours that characterise the StopAdani coalition/alliance in their messaging, networking, and the content of their communications. The well briefed journalists, authors like Beresford, and the revolving doors that shuffle activists back and forth from .orgs to the Greens party serve to reinforce the talking points of the StopAdani coalition/alliance.

If there are any people whose work I would recommend in relation to the ‘war over coal’, or more correctly, the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex, it would be the following three women. The first is activist, inventor, and world class train stopper Annette Schneider who saved me from permanent exclusion from the Lock the Gate Group Page on Facebook in spite of our very different takes on Galilee Basin development. The second is Bec Horridge whose commitment to capturing the testimony of people on the frontlines is unmatched. The third is Dr Lily O’Neill, a person who understands the tension created when the values of Aboriginal autonomy are weighed up against the imperative to protect the environment.

 

References you wont find in either book

Academic writing

‘A tale of two agreements: negotiating aboriginal land access agreements in Australia’s natural gas industry’. PHD Thesis by Dr Lily O’Neill

https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/111978

News and feature articles

‘Adani, native title and risky strategies’ by Marcia Langton

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion/topic/2017/07/01/adani-native-title-and-risky-strategies/14988312004864

‘Leading Indigenous lawyer hits back at Marcia Langton over Adani’ by Joshua Robertson

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/09/leading-indigenous-lawyer-hits-back-at-marcia-langton-over-adani

‘Adani’s Australian project to generate $22 billion in taxes and royalty’ by Debjoy Sungupta (while Geoff Cousins was in India – not reported in Australia)

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/adanis-australian-project-to-generate-22-billion-in-taxes-and-royalty/articleshow/57692866.cms

Institutional reports and government sources

‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project: Project overview’. Queensland Government – Department of Sate Development, manufacturing, Infrastructure, and Planning https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/north-galilee-basin-rail-project.html

‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project – Environmental Impact Statement: Chapter 15, Cultural Heritage’. Adani Mining Pty Ltd

http://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/adani/pdf/volume-1-chapter-15-cultural-heritage.pdf

‘Burragubba on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou People v State of Queensland [2017] FCA 373’. Justice Reeves, Federal Court of Australia

https://jade.io/article/526911

‘Australian Conservation Foundation – Carmichael – Abbot Point Rail: Financing Issues for Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility’ (Prepared by ACIL Allen for submission to the NAIF senate inquiry). The report can be found on this page listed as Attachment 1 in the ACF submission.

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

‘Question on Notice (Hansard, 20 October 2016, page 125 -126): SI-36’. Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science

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

‘Answers to questions on notice received from the Australia Institute on 5 September 2017, following a public hearing in Canberra on 11 August 2017’. The Australia Institute

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/NAIF/Additional_Documents

‘QI2011/011 – Hancock Alpha Coal Project ILUA (Wangan and Jagalingou Area)’. The National Native Title Tribunal

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2011/011

‘Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies: 2012’. Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/research-and-guides/ethics/gerais.pdf

‘Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines: RTI 15-315’.

https://www.dews.qld.gov.au/rti-tool/dnrm/15-315

‘Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project Environmental Impact Statement Volume 4 – Supplement Report’ (Prepared by Advisian for the Queensland Department of State Development)

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

Websites

‘Native title holders lodge objection to proposed North Galilee Basin rail project’ by Isobel Roe

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

‘Premier Palaszczuk whitewashes our rights for Adani’. Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council

http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/palaszczuk-whitewashes-our-rights-for-adani/

‘North Galilee Basin Rail approvals and NAIF‘. Environmental Defender’s Office Queensland

https://www.edoqld.org.au/galilee_basin_rail_approvals_naif

‘LIVE BLOG: Week of frontline action to #StopAdani’. Green Left Weekly

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/live-blog-week-frontline-action-stopadani

‘Juru traditional owners call for Adani to stop work’. Bec Horridge with Ben Smee featuring interviews with ‘Aunty’ Carol Prior

http://www.3cr.org.au/earthmatters/episode-201807151100/juru-traditional-owners-call-adani-stop-work

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.

 

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/

 

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

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

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

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

Courier Mail quote:

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

At 8 pm this evening FLAC provided this announcement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not Ready to Blockade: The Impact of Graeme Wood

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