(by Boshra Yazahmeidi)
A federal court ruling to invalidate a Western Australian native land-use agreement may have implications for over 200 Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) nation-wide, including the controversial Adani coalmine in Queensland.
The court based its decision on the Native Title Act which requires “all” claim group representatives to have signed the ILUA for it to be valid. However, a legal precedent set in 2010 meant that many ILUAs could go ahead without the backing of all claim group representatives, provided that the majority of the broader claim group voted in support.
Consequently, the federal court decision of early February has put many existing deals and compensation packages with traditional owners under question, with the Turnbull government considering amendments to the Native Title Act in response.
But Colin Hardie, whose Brisbane law firm acts for the Wangan and Jagalingou opponents to the Adani coalmine as well as resource project proponents, thinks differently:
“This preoccupation with arguing a whole stack of ILUAs are going to be affected by this decision is just an attempt to hide the truth”, he said.
“Any amendment to the legislation that goes through is there to protect the position of Adani or what’s happening in WA. The government should call it that and don’t disguise it by pretending that it’s going to affect anybody else.”
Hardie referenced section 199C(3) of the Native Title Act to demonstrate that a registered ILUA would only be affected by a federal court order if it was shown “a party would not have entered into the agreement but for fraud, undue influence of duress by any person”. Outside this provision, only future ILUAs or those applying for registration with the Native Title Tribunal will now require unanimous support from claim group representatives.
And the Adani Carmicahel coalmine sits under this category.
The Guardian has more information.