Indigenous activists challenge Adani land use agreement
Indigenous activists challenge Adani land use agreement

Claim 200 people unknown to elders at Adani meeting

TRADITIONAL owners claim Adani did not "rigidly" check those who voted on the mine project actually held native title rights over the area, a court has heard.

In 2016, Adani won the right to permanently extinguish the rights of the Wangan and Jagalingou people through a land use agreement, which was required to build their Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland.

The traditional owners argued there were about 200 people who attended the meeting to vote on the mine who had not pre-registered or were not known by elders at the meeting.

They also say some who voted on the mine were not verified as native title holders through rigorous identification and genealogy checks.

Because of this, they claim the land use agreement is not valid.

In a single-judge decision handed down in The Federal Court last year, Justice John Reeves found the challengers arguments had no merit.

They have appealed his decision to the bench of the full Federal Court, which sat in Brisbane on Monday.

During the appeal hearing, the traditional owner's barrister Stephen Kiem SC argued Adani's certification was invalid because they fell below the standard required by native title laws to go to "all reasonable efforts" to identify any traditional owners.

He also argued people at the crucial vote meeting were not verified as native title holders in the area.

" … we say that identification also includes verification to make sure those people that do attended a meeting are themselves that … may hold native title in the area of the agreement," Mr Keim told the court.

He later said: "What we don't know is whether the, possibly? Two hundred people were in fact members of the claim group".

Mr Keim said meeting organisers didn't show attendees a list of relatives and ask: "They're descended from your ancestor? Are they people that you know? How can you show to me they are in fact descended and that they are in fact not just unrelated?".

"What he said was: 'You know that list that was sent to you was it all hunky dory?'," he said.

The court heard those who have lodged the challenge had not attended the vote meeting.

"Your clients knew all about it, they didn't go to the meeting, and now they're trying to say it's invalid," Federal Court Judge Steven Rares said.

Adani Mining said, through a statement, the court action was being "pursued by a very small minority of the Wangan and Jagalingou people".

"In August last year, we welcomed the decision of the Federal Court in upholding the validity of the certification and registration of the Wangan and Jagalingou People Indigenous Land Use Agreement," the spokeswoman said.

"We are now defending the appeal of that decision.

"Our intention is to work with the W&J people under the guidance of the (agreement) while respecting the rights, history, future intentions and requests of the traditional owners."

The appeal hearing continues.