• Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners spokespeople Murrawah Johnson & Adrian Burragubba are in Canberra this week (NITV)Source: NITV
Traditional owners have gathered in Canberra to demand the Government act fairly and allow more time for consideration by Indigenous groups affected by proposed changes to native title law.
3 Mar 2017 - 11:11 AM  UPDATED 3 Mar 2017 - 11:11 AM

Traditional owner groups have converged on Canberra this week, alarmed by proposed changes to native title law, which they claim are being weakened to suit mining companies.

They said amendments to the Native Title Act are being rammed through parliament and leaving them with no time to consider or negotiate affectively.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners this week met with Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers, to ensure their voices were being heard on the latest changes to native title. 

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Senior spokesman for the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners, Adrian Burragubba, said the amendments have been rushed through Parliament to meet the demands of mining interests.

"Its just abhorrent that it should be rushed in this manner and this thing be a precedent so that mining companies can override native title rights," he said.

"The Federal Government moved to amend the Native Title Act as if there was a state of emergency, but without any evidence of a real problem or justification for the rush. The Bill appears to be rammed through to the calls of the mining lobby, and in particular Adani and its resource council backers," he said. 

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners have been fighting Indian mining giant, Adani, over a multi-billion dollar coalmine proposed to be built at the Galilee Basin, right in the heart of Wangan and Jagalingou country in central-west Queensland.

The proposed amendments to the Native Title Act will reverse a recent landmark court ruling in Western Australia to reinstate the status quo so that Indigenous Land Use Agreements do not require all applicants to sign off. 

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council Youth Spokesperson Murrawah Johnson said the changes are designed to undermine self-determined, traditional decision-making processes. 

"The process is entirely inadequate and disrespectful to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by the changes, many of whom have not been notified about the amendments, let alone consulted," she said. 

The Noongar people, who are the subject of the decision, say the government's bill to overturn the ruling is denying their native title rights.

Noongar native title claimant, Mervyn Eades said: "Because we won, they've decided to bring it in and have our decision overturned to suit them and mining companies and everyone else's interests."

Another claimant, Naomi Smith, said native title law is not working for Indigenous people. 

"The Native Title Act does not work amongst our people," she said. 

Mr Eades agrees. 

"Native title is being butchered, slaughtered, watered down to the maximum to protect the interests of mining companies and the states and the government not for the rights of our people. They're taking that away from us so they may us well take native title and put it in their pocket and keep it."

Mr Burragubba has called for a fair and just process. 

"We just want fair and open discussion with everybody," he said.

The bill is currently before a Senate inquiry.

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