Queensland Government gives Adani green light to blow up major Wangan and Jagalingou cultural heritage site

Media Release December 6: The Queensland Government has rejected a request from seven Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners to investigate a potential breach of the QLD Cultural Heritage Act and prevent destruction of Aboriginal cultural heritage, giving Adani the go-ahead to detonate and destroy the site with the highest concentration of ancient cultural artifacts found to date. See Sydney Morning Herald today.

Please attribute all quotes to Adrian Burragubba, Nagana Yarrbayn Senior Elder and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalinbgou Cultural Custodians.

“The Queensland government has allowed Adani to destroy an ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage site at its Carmichael mine, ignoring concerns raised by Traditional Owners. Adani bulldozed and blew up the site containing the highest concentration of artifacts ever found on Adani’s vast mining lease.

“The site was an ancient stone tool making area that our people utilised for thousands of years. These artifacts are a reminder of who we are – they must not be destroyed. Some artifacts have been collected, but thousands more have been blown up and bulldozed into piles. 

“With our lawyers, we requested the Queensland Government act to issue a stop work order and halt Adani’s destruction of our cultural heritage. 

“We provided evidence of a potential breach of Queensland Cultural Heritage Act, and requested the government investigate. 

“The Queensland Government has notified us it is refusing to investigate or act. They took Adani’s word for it, and allowed Adani to destroy ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage.

“Adani only plans to mine coal for 24 years, but is destroying ancient cultural sites that are thousands of years old.  

“This is the price that Wangan and Jagalingou people are paying for Adani’s coal: the permanent loss of our cultural heritage and destruction of cultural sites with thousands of artifacts made by our old people.

“Adani has an obligation to ensure excavation work does not harm Aboriginal cultural heritage. The Queensland government has an obligation to uphold the law: but says there is no evidence Adani has harmed or will have a significant adverse impact on our cultural heritage. In what universe is bulldozing and detonating an ancient cultural heritage site not harmful?   

“After Rio Tinto blew up Juukan Gorge, many thought things would change. Now Adani is blowing up ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in Queensland. 

“Australia’s cultural heritage laws are broken and they must change. We are being denied our rights in shonky deals and a sham process. We must be given rights to veto the destruction of our cultural heritage. 

“We believe Adani has broken the law by breaching the Queensland Cultural Heritage Act. It is time for Adani to be held to account and stopped before it is too late. Since the Queensland Government is refusing to investigate and hold Adani accountable, we will seek to use our legal rights to do so.

“Adani’s destruction of our cultural heritage is a clear violation of our human rights to maintain and strengthen our distinctive spiritual, material and economic relationship with the land, and to conserve and protect the environment under the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019.

“Adani knew about the significance of this sacred site for years, but failed to inform Aboriginal people until the last minute, and pushed on to destroy the site when we spoke up. 

“The Chair of Adani’s Cultural Heritage Committee Patrick Malone made demands of Adani relating to the management of this site, including not to dump the artifacts at Red Hill. Adani appears to have ignored these requests. Now Adani has told the Queensland Government that Patrick Malone says the site has been “culturally cleared”, and acknowledges the artifacts are now at Red Hill. 

“The truth is that all Wangan and Jagalingou people have been excluded from knowledge and decision-making about this important site. We are devastated by its destruction by Adani on the say-so of one or two individuals.”

“Adani has to face the truth: they destroyed our cultural heritage. They didn’t care about it – they bulldozed and blew up our sacred site.

“Adani has only just started its mine, and has years of construction to go. But Adani’s management of Aboriginal cultural heritage is only resulting in devastating destruction and it cannot go on.”

Red Hill site where the artifacts have been dumped, against the initial request of archaeologists and the Chair of the Cultural Heritage Committee. November 2021.

Photos and footage

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