NAIDOC WEEK MEDIA STATEMENT
Thursday 8 July 2021
‘Healing Country’ won’t happen while Adani proceeds to destroy our lands and waters
Call for ‘stop work’ and independent verification of Adani’s threat to sacred Doongmabulla springs
The W&J Nagana Yarrbayn Cultural Custodians, a group of Traditional Owners of Wangan and Jagalingou Country, including senior cultural leader Adrian Burragubba, have raised the alarm over environmental practices by Adani Mining.
But they say the Queensland Government’s poor handling of their call for urgent action, to address the severe threat to the culturally significant Doongmabulla Springs, shows Adani acts with impunity.
They are calling for all work on the mine site to stop until the results of a State Government investigation can be independently verified.
Senior W&J cultural custodian, Adrian Burragubba says: “We have seen the destruction that the operations of the Carmichael Coal Mining Project are already causing in our Country, and we are deeply disappointed by the Government’s inadequate response to our request for urgent action.
“We are calling for an immediate halt to the construction of the mine, and for full and independent scientific assessments and monitoring of the threats to our sacred Doongmabulla Springs.
“Damage to the environment is damage to our Country and culture and is a breach of our human rights as First Nations people. We need to know that our cultural heritage is beyond the cavalier disregard displayed by Adani and its contractors, and beyond the political interests of the Government of the day.
Mr Burragubba says that Adani and their Government backers can’t be trusted with his people’s cultural heritage.
“We have seen the way governments and mining corporations disregard Aboriginal cultural heritage. Right now, Adani have a license to destroy our culture and Country.
“The mine will drain the life out of the land and destroy our dreaming and the sacred Doongmabulla springs. It will be a catastrophe every bit as destructive to our culture, and as hurtful to our people, as the blasting of the caves at the Juukan Gorge” he said.
In their request for urgent enforcement action, filed in April by solicitors from the Environmental Defenders Office, the Cultural Custodians called upon the Environment Minister to investigate reported environmental damage, and take action to remedy or restrain any offences being committed by Adani. They received the Department’s two-page response late last week, shutting down the investigation.
Mr Burragubba says the Cultural Custodians requested Dr Matthew Currell, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at RMIT University, to provide an independent scientific review of baseline groundwater monitoring, to assess the impacts from the Carmichael Mine on the culturally significant Doongmabulla Springs Complex.
The traditional custodians now fear that Adani’s very large volume of water extraction has already locked in future damage to their sacred site. They are asking where the water is coming from for the mine since the Australian Conservation Foundation knocked out Adani’s water pipeline approval.
Mr Burragubba says the Cultural Custodians continue to raise human rights concerns associated with the extraction of vast amounts of water and the damage being done to their Country by “this monstrous mine”.
The custodians are speaking with their lawyers about further legal action to stop the environmental and cultural harm they are witnessing.
“We take our cultural and custodial obligations seriously and have proven over a decade that attacks on our Country, our people and our rights will be met with unflinching resistance. Our right to maintain and strengthen our distinctive spiritual, material, and economic relationship with our land and waters is protected under Queensland’s Human Rights Act and this is a right we will continue to assert.
“We will not succumb to political pressures and will always stand strong to defend our human rights, our Country and our culture from interference by people like Adani, who have no respect for our laws and customs and who are harming the land.
“We will pursue all legal avenues to protect our cultural rights, which are supported in international law, and are now recognised under Queensland’s Human Rights Act” he said.