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Adani Project Stalled By Shock Land Rights Decision

By Ki Ki Taylor

The state government could act now to remove a courtroom hurdle from the path of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, opposition leader Tim Nicholls has claimed.

On Friday an Indigenous Land Use Agreement between Adani and the Wangan and Jagalingou people was set to be registered at the National Native Title Tribunal but this was cancelled due to the precedent set by a shock Federal Court decision last week.

The decision rendered any agreement that doesn’t have the signed approval of every person in the Native Title claim invalid, even though for years the majority was accepted.

As every person involved in the Native Title claim for the Adani ILUA had not signed off, the decision left both Adani and the traditional owners, who would be compensated, in limbo.

But as the Adani project was granted “critical infrastructure” status last year, an LNP spokesperson said the premier should consider invoking an alternate process to acquire the land that was not available to private companies.

By using powers that come with a project being deemed ‘critical infrastructure’, the premier could demand a compulsory acquisition of the rail corridor, which he said does not require an Indigenous Land Use Agreement.

The spokesman said this process is often used when building roads, for other projects deemed critical infrastructure or in state development areas.

After land is compulsorily acquired, any person with a legal interest in the land- in this case the Wangan and Jagalingou people- can lodge a written claim for compensation.

It’s believed this process would take five to seven months.

“Through the Coordinator-General, Ms Palaszczuk has the power to overcome this by acquiring an easement for critical infrastructure projects, which in this case could be used for the railway corridor to the mine,” Mr Nicholls said.

Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke was contacted for comment on the idea, and said state government is currently waiting on detailed Crown Law advice on the implications of the Federal Court native title decision.

She said initial advice indicated that the solution would be for Federal Government to amending the Commonwealth native title legislation.

“The Federal Government needs to move swiftly on this issue so that this important project can get going,” she said.

“Legal and native title experts across all levels of government are also continuing to work together on this important national issue.”

The Wangan and Jagalingou Owner Council will be contacted for comment.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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