By Lindy Nolan
Corporate law firms, like WorkChoices architect and Business Council of Australia member Herbert Smith Freehills, serve the biggest end of town.
Freehills has hammered workers for years. It helped draft John Howard’s anti-worker WorkChoices legislation.
Former feral Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash, came into parliament straight from Freehills where she was a Senior Associate.
Freehills also had 43 contracts worth nearly $1.4 million with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Only fellow BCA member and corporate law firm Clayton Utz and the Department of Education and Training had more valuable ABCC contracts than Freehills.
THE ADANI FIGHT
Freehills has represented Adani against Traditional Custodians.
For four years the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) People have stood up to Adani. They’ve systematically built alliances with people from all walks of life and fought with every weapon at their disposal.
Several W&J Traditional Custodians had been hit with a ruling demanding they pay $160,000 in legal costs to Adani by mid-December. If they failed, their appeal against a decision on an aspect of Native Title favouring Adani would be disallowed.
Adani was hoping people would be too caught up with Christmas and holidays to get organised.
Despite this high-powered opposition and difficult timing, on December 18 the Federal Court’s Justice Robinson reduced the amount the Wangan and Jagalingou leaders have to pay to $50,000.
Just Us Lawyers, a small Queensland firm, represented the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council against Freehills.
The case was high profile, and a statement from Adrian Burragubba, Murrawah Johnson & Linda Bobongie for the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council gained wide support.
It pointed out, “The threat of high cost orders is meant to stop us standing up to protect our human rights and our country. They create a discriminatory court system that allows only wealthy people to bring claims.”
With support, the W&J reckon they can pay the money.
But Adani has just announced they are continuing with bankruptcy proceedings against Wagan and Jagalingou leader, Adrian Burragubba.
It parallels the huge fines and court cases against the CFMEU and a few fighting unions through WorkChoices, UnfairWork Australia and the ABCC.
First Nations and workers are targeted by the same bastard corporations. It’s time to stand together.
Donations to the Wangan and Jagalingou legal fight can be made here.