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Issue #1781      June 14, 2017

Adani mega-mine – “No means No!”

In 2015 the Wangan and Jagalingou launched their campaign to stop Adani from devastating their ancestral lands with the Carmichael mega mine. Adrian Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson reported on their part of the campaign, on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council, a fight they have taken to the world.

A three-week world tour, which included parts of North America, Europe, and Asia, had as its main purpose engagement with some of the world’s biggest investment banks urging them to rule out providing the billions of dollars that Adani still requires to fund the project.

This included executives from Goldman Sachs, Citi, Bank of America, US EXIM, Standard Chartered, UBS and Credit Suisse.

It also afforded the opportunity to meet with other First Nation’s people fighting to protect their ancestral lands from environmentally-destructive projects. They expressed solidarity with and reminded Adrian and Murrawah that their fight is a universal one “because we’re all Indigenous to Mother Earth”.

It was especially gut-wrenching to share time with the Athabasca Chipewyan in Alberta, Canada. Their country is being devastated by tar sands production on a scale and a rate that we could similarly confront if Adani mining has their way.

“We were inspired by their strong resistance and heartfelt desire to protect their lands and uplift their people. We were able to do all this thanks to the generous support of thousands of people who recognise, as we do, that some things are more valuable than money.

“People who recognise that the destruction of our land would essentially mean the destruction of us as a people. Our land is where our culture and our laws and customs reside. It represents the legacy of our ancestors, and the future of our children.

“Thank you for being one of those who stood up for our rights.

Our fight is far from over, Adani are still deploying their massive wealth and legal power against us. But we’ll tell them again as we have told them before – No means No. Right now we are taking them on in the courts.”

At the same time northern Australian businesses are able to exploit free Indigenous labour as a result of the former Abbott government’s strategy in the guise of boosting Indigenous workforce participation in remote communities (Tony Abbott now being a foremost banner bearer for Big Coal’s right to continuing destroying the environment).

The government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia outlines changes to the Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP) which is forcing Indigenous job seekers to participate in Work for the Dole for a minimum of six months.

In addition, workers do not receive a training/apprenticeship wage; instead the government will pay businesses for keeping Indigenous workers at the end of their placement.

Australian unions rightly see Work for the Dole is a punitive scheme that targets vulnerable workers and forces them into labour for below the minimum wage.

Unions have called for an end to discriminatory employment practices for Indigenous workers and ensure workers are paid the legal minimum wages and benefits, such as superannuation and annual leave.


  • Almost 2,500 Indigenous workers were moved onto welfare after the Abbott government scrapped the Community Develop Employment Projects (CDEP) program which paid job seekers minimum wages and conditions.
  • The Abbott government made $534 million in budget cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and services forcing many Indigenous workers onto welfare, cuts that have continued under Turnbull.

The ACTU at the time described the White Paper is “a whitewash”. “Instead of working with Indigenous communities, the government continues to punish them with a program that has failed to create long term, sustainable jobs.

“All work must be paid minimum wages, as well as the benefits of work, such as annual leave and superannuation. Employment initiatives must be based on real consultation, self-determination and an understanding of the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Next article – The Last of the Red Matildas – In Memory of Phyllis Sarah Johnson

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