Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners opposed to the Adani Carmichael project in north Queensland said they have been "clearly targeted" by the mining giant's new law firm which has been revealed to be running an aggressive strategy to take down critics of the proposed mine.
The ABC revealed a draft litigation strategy from its new law firm AJ&Co's which promised to wage "war" on opponents of the controversial project and to act as the mining giant's "trained attack dog". The document was reported to be called "Taking the Gloves Off" and was designed to win a multi-million dollar legal contract with the Indian company.
The ABC reports the strategy recommended bankrupting individuals who unsuccessfully challenged Adani in court, the use of lawsuits to pressure the Queensland Government and social media "bias" as a tool to discredit decision makers.
The strategy also recommended discrediting activists and commentators by spreading untruths and "using the legal system to silence them". It also suggested the company hire operatives to target activists and work with police "to ensure appropriate police action is taken against protesters".
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad believes the public should be concerned.
"I mean, seriously, what's Adani going to do next?" she told the ABC.
"Are they going to start pressuring the CSIRO around the ground water management plan?"
Since it engaged the law firm, Adani has threatened legal action against a community legal service and an environmental group plus launched bankruptcy proceedings against Adrian Burragubba - a leader of the Wangan and Jagalingou people.
Murrawah Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Wangan and Jagalingou people, said they had long-been at the receiving end of Adani's "lawfare" strategy.
“This is the face of Adani that we know," she said.
"We've seen Adani's ruthless behaviour and their abuse of the legal process first hand. They are unrelenting in trying to stamp out our resistance to the coal mine going ahead on our country.”
Mr Burragubba described the mining company's strategy as an abuse of the legal process.
“We’ve known all along Adani can’t be trusted," he said.
"Their dealings with us have always carried the threat: ‘agree to the mine or we’ll get it anyway’. Adani do not have our genuine free, prior and informed consent. They manipulate outcomes to suit themselves, and when our people have stood strong on our rights and said no, they piled on the pressure.
Mr Burragubba said Adani were "playing the man" and using "so-called 'allies in Indigenous communities'" in response to Traditional Owners who opposed the mine.
“The Queensland Government must not give ground to these corporate bullies," he said.
"It should begin an investigation into the corruption of the Adani ILUA dealings and the abuse of process revealed in Adani’s attack plan.”