Traditional owners of Queensland’s Galilee Basin have accused the state’s mines minister of betrayal as they launch fresh legal action against approval of Adani’s Carmichael mine.
At the beginning of the month, Anthony Lynham cleared the last major state hurdle for the Indian giant to proceed with its $22 billion-project – which would be Australia’s largest – including associated rail and port facilities.
Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) representatives on Wednesday released a letter from the mines minister’s office, dated October 2015, in which Dr Lynham said he would consider the lease applications after all legislative requirements were satisfactorily explored.
“In this particular case, the minister intends to wait for an outcome of the judicial review application,” the letter read.
The W&J people have gone to the Federal Court seeking a judicial review of a decision by the National Native Title Tribunal to issue leases associated with the mine.
Spokeswoman Murrawah Johnson said the government and Dr Lynham had shown their true colours.
“Under sustained pressure, he has betrayed us,” she said.
“We will not stand by and be bullied into accepting the inevitability of this mine. It’s a dangerous proposal.”
The group will file an interlocutory application in the Federal Court ahead of ultimately arguing the leases weren’t properly issued.
While Dr Lynham said it was his preference to await the outcome of W&J’s judicial review application, it was not apparent in October how long it would take.
He insisted that more than 200 stringent conditions placed on the project protected the environment and the interests of traditional owners.
“My decision was that the benefits outweigh the challenges and that the project would deliver significant net benefits to the people of Queensland,” the minister said.
Dr Lynham also pointed to “many voices” being heard, including different submissions from native title claimants.
Competing interests within the W&J claim group, which acts similarly to an electorate made up of 12 families, have complicated Adani’s ability to secure an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA).
A meeting on March 19, open to all members but only attended by nine families, passed a resolution to change their rules and allow for the removal of members who had lost the confidence of their families over support of the ILUA.
Another resolution has implications for a Saturday meeting with Adani which will again seek to secure an ILUA.
Both Adani and the Queensland Resources Council said the latest legal challenge highlighted the need to overhaul Queensland’s approval processes.
“At every stage, politically-motivated activists have sought to delay and deny the benefits of these job-creating projects for our state from going ahead,” an Adani spokesman said.