Indigenous traditional owners from north Queensland have threatened to try to pursue an order that could shut down Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal, amid concern that sacred sites in the area have not been properly protected.
Guardian Australia can reveal Adani has ignored repeated demands by Juru traditional owners to inspect “unauthorised” cultural assessments conducted by former directors of the embattled Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation.
Assessments for Adani’s Abbot Point port were conducted by former directors of Kyburra, who paid themselves up to $1000 a day cash-in-hand. Kyburra is accused of financial mismanagement. It is in significant debt, under special administration and likely to be dissolved. Federal court documents reveal Kyburra kept secret more than $2 million in payments by Adani. Directors of Kyburra then funneled that money to themselves through a series of “fees” and “loans”.
The financial mismanagement of Kyburra was central to a recent federal court ruling that another Indigenous business, Juru Enterprises Limited, was the proper nominated body on a land-use agreement. Traditional owners believe that ruling effectively voids the cultural heritage assessments conducted for Adani by Kyburra. Andrew Morrell told Guardian Australia last week he was “hugely worried” that improper or conflicted advice could have resulted in damage to sacred sites.
Lawyers for JEL have emailed Adani three times asking to review the cultural assessments. Adani has not yet responded. Agreements designed to protect Juru sites remain secret from Juru traditional owners.
On 15 June, JEL gave Adani until Friday to “agree to commence re-looking at all unauthorised cultural heritage surveys in an effort to minimise delays in conducting authorised surveys. However, if your client fails to respond positively…we will request a stop order pursuant to section 32 of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 to protect and preserve their native title area.”