Recognising the Wangan and Jagalingou resistance to Adani

Aug 11, 2020 | Blog

Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council first said no to Adani in 2012. They continue to say no. This is a summarised timeline of the events from the last 8 years and it is only part of a history of resistance by the Wangan and Jagalingou people. Drawn mostly from their website it is created to recognise that powerful history. They have been protecting their Country since Invasion not only by leading the fight against fossil fuel extraction in the Galilee Basin but by also challenging the nature and intention of Native Title law in Australia. Head over to the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council website for direct sources, or follow their fight on Facebook. You can make a donation to support them here.

May 2020 – Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council reiterate their opposition to Clive Palmer-owned Waratah Coal proposed coal project on their land, the Galilee Coal Project, and announce their support for a major case challenging the mine on human rights grounds.[1]

May 2020 – Murrawah Johnson speaks at the Marsh & Mclennan AGM about the absence of free, prior and informed consent, that the Wangan and Jagalingou are being denied their right under UN convention, and the construction of the mine will dispossess her people. [2]

February 2020 –  Murrawah Johnson, Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council spokesperson, travelled to Munich to challenge Adani contractor Siemens about their accountability and demand free, prior and informed consent [3]

December 2019 – Wangan and Jagalingou unite to protect their native title claim, lodged 16 years ago, from Queensland Government contests and challenges on top of ongoing outside pressure [4]. This battle continues today.

October 2019 – Adani begins an injunction process in the Supreme Court to block Wangan and Jagalingou people from accessing land for cultural ceremonies. The Supreme Court agrees with Adani, and Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional owners risk gaol if they conduct cultural ceremonies on country, where the land is controlled by Adani. [5] [6]

August 2019 – The Federal Court dismisses a major challenge to Adani’s sham Indigenous Land Use Agreement, ‘agreed to’ by a group of people hand-picked by Adani ran to enable the construction of their mine [7]

Also in August 2019 – The Queensland Government extinguishes an area of the Wangan and Jagalingou native title claim permanently, and transfers the land title to Adani. Wangan and Jagalingou however remain custodians of that Country and continue to say no to Adani.  [8]

Also in August 2019 – Adani requested the Court order Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owner Adrian Burragubba to pay costs  for contesting the misleading and fraught meetings that ultimately gave approval for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani in 2015 and 2016 Adani. This leads to him filing as bankrupt, with major financial ramifications for the people involved [9][10]

This is staggering, in just August last year Wangan and Jagalingou had part of their native title rights extinguished permanently,  the legal system failed to see the flaws in how consent was sought, and Adrian Burragubba was bankrupted by Adani.

January 2019 – The United Nations asked the Australian government to suspend the Adani mine, after advocacy from the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, with concerns that it violates indigenous rights and the convention on racial discrimination. [11]

August 2018 – Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council file a major brief and complaint with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Disrimination. [12]

May 2018 – Adrian Burragubba wrote a powerful statement about what the fight for native title and sovereignty means, here is just a snippet; “At the heart of our struggle is the demand for respect for us as first peoples, for our country and our rights, all long missing in relations between our people and the Settler Society.” [13]

Before 2018, and after, the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council worked tirelessly in the courts to protect [14] [15]

  • Their native title claim
  • Their right to decide on projects following a principle of free, prior and informed consent.

This is further explained, although paraphrased, below. It is worth emphasising that during 2013-2019 they also coordinated with the broader StopAdani movement by speaking with banks and contractors who would work with the Adani group so it could meet project deadlines. This is important to reiterate; during the arduous and onerous task of navigating Australia’s native title law in various courts, Wangan and Jagalingou turned up to meeting after meeting with executives in boardrooms to explain what free, prior informed meant, and how it hadn’t been followed in the case of the Adani mine. As well as turning up to countless #StopAdani protests, meetings and summits.

Across 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 The Wangan and Jagalingou filed challenges in courts across Australia so they could be asked for free, prior and informed consent over the use of their Country. The some of the key cases in this attempt were

  • Adani Mining Pty Ltd v Adrian Burragubba, Patrick Malone and Irene White on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou People 
  • Burragubba v State of Queensland
  • Kemppi v Adani Mining Pty Ltd 

These cases were attempts to force Adani to accept it had acted in a way analogous to fraud when conducting the meetings in 2014, 2015 and 2016 that eventually gave consent on 2016 and ILUA.

July 2017 – Adrian Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson and accept the Ngara Institute’s Inaugural activist of the year award for their work to that point in keeping the Adani project in planning, and furthering the discussion of native title and Indigenous rights to sovereignty in Australia. [16]

June 2017 – The Australian Parliament passes the ‘Adani amendment’ to the Native Title Act, with both Labor and Liberal-National parties voting in favour. Adani CEO lobbied both parties to ensure the Act was amended to prevent Wangan and Jagalingou people succeeding in contesting Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement in court, after an historic case won by Noongar people in Western Australia.[17]

November 2016 – Wangan and Jagalingou present to the DownerEDI AGM their case for free, prior and informed consent [18]

April 2016 – ‘THE’ meeting that Adani keeps looking back to was held in Maryborough. It was boycotted by key Wangan and Jagalingou people, and stacked with people paid by Adani to attend who had no familial ties to Wangan or Jagalingou. This meeting voted in favour of the Adani mine. [19] [20]

In May 2019 a story went out on NITV that was an excellent investigation into the behaviour of Adani and the way in which the Wangan and Jagalingou people had their rights to free, prior and informed consent torn up. It is a must watch. [19]

March 2016 – Wangan and Jagalingou say no a third time [21]

April 2015 –  The National Native Title Tribunal recognises that the Wangan and Jagalingou has not given consent but decides that a mining lease is able to be given by the Queensland Government according to the Federal Law. [22]

May 2015 – Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council lobby banks to back away from the Adani project. [23]

March 2015 –  Adrian Burragubba, as a representative of the Wangan and Jagalingou writes to the new Premier Palaszczuk that they do not consent to a new coal mine in the Galilee Basin, and the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council launch their public campaign. [24]

October 2014, as well as in December 2012 –  A significant majority of Wangan and Jagalingou people say no to the Adani Carmichael mine. Without proper free, prior and informed consent, the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council are given responsibility to ensure that this ‘no’ is understood by Adani and the Governments of Australia. [21]


[1]W&J support for human rights and climate change case against Palmer’s coal plans


[3] Indigenous envoy challenges Siemens in Germany over Adani mine

[4] Traditional owners driven apart by Adani issue unite to fight Queensland Government

[5]Adani security vision used to obtain court order preventing traditional owners from entering site

[6]We are not just on the frontline… we are the frontline

[7]Indigenous challenge to Adani Carmichael coal mine dismissed by Federal Court

[8]Qld govt wipes out W&J native title for Adani

[9]Adani tries to bankrupt Wangan and Jagalingou man, Adrian Burragubba

[10]Bankrupting of First Nations leader: Adani sets brutal new standard of corporate behaviour


[12]W&J Council takes land rights fight to UN

[13]High noon in the Galilee


[15]Mundine reduces Aboriginal land rights and First Nations treaties to ‘a fantasy business transaction’


[17]Native Title law now tainted by Adani


[19]SBS NITV report

[20] Adani accused of paying people to stack its meeting on crucial mine deal

[21]‘Three strikes you’re out’ – Traditional Owners reject Adani Carmichael mine for a third time

[22]EXPLAINER: Representation of W&J




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