The Queensland state government could halt construction at mining giant Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal after Traditional Owners formally applied for a “stop order” to protect sacred sites.
NITV understands the application was lodged on Thursday after the Indian company refused to meet with representatives of the Indigenous business Juru Enterprises.
Any decision for a stop order would be made by Jackie Trad, the new treasurer of Queensland, who has previously acknowledged her inner-city Brisbane electorate feels “very strongly” against Adani’s controversial $16.5 billion Carmichael mine.
She will have to decide “if there are reasonable grounds for concluding the activity is harming, threatening to harm, or will have a significant adverse impact on Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage.”
The Juru people hold native title over land north of Bowen where Adani plans to build the port.
Traditional Owners have identified numerous cultural sites at Abbot Point including burial grounds, rock art and rock carvings.
Carol Prior, an Elder and board member on Juru Enterprises, said the sacred sites were worth more than coal or money.
“Our identity comes from the land,” she told NITV.
“If you destroy those scared sites, you destroy our culture.”
Mrs Prior said attempts to find a more collaborative approach with Adani had failed.
“I think work just has to stop,” she said.
“They’re saying there’s no cultural heritage there.”
“We’re not against progress but, by the same token, at what price?”
It was revealed last month that an adversarial Indigenous organisation which conducted cultural surveys for the site received around $1.5 million in secret payments from Adani.
The Townsville-based Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation paid its directors up to $1000 a day cash-in-hand for the now-invalidated cultural heritage assessments.
The Federal Court ruled in May that Juru Enterprises was the proper “nominated body” to represent Traditional Owners on a land-use agreement with Adani.
The lawyer for Juru Enterprises, Mark Ascione, said the Traditional Owners were compelled to act by the “belligerent stance” of the mining company.
“We had no option but to purse a stop order,” he told NITV News.
“We are very, very concerned that they will commence construction on this sensitive cultural area which is clearly defined.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull will be encouraged to consider taking control of the rail link to Adani’s coal mine under a new plan to be debated at the state LNP conference this weekend.
The Indian company had applied for a $1 billion tax-payer funded loan to link the mine to the Abbot Point port but it was vetoed by the Queensland state government.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan encouraged the state to end its “stupid war” again coal.
“Coal’s about to become our biggest export again, what exactly does the Labor Party have against coal?” he said.
“Whatever is decided this weekend at the LNP convention, the ball is in the Queensland government’s court.”