Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts.These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Four Corners -

View in ParlView

Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest is one of Australia's richest men. He wants to cut a deal that would give
his company, Fortescue Metals Group(FMG), access to a massive chunk of land in Australia's mineral
rich northwest. Michael Woodley is an elder of the Yindjibarndi people that effectively holds
Native Title rights to the land in question. So far they've been unable to agree on a compensation
package that could make both the company and the community rich. What's gone wrong and is there a
way to find common ground?

In mining terms it's called Solomon Hub, a body of land 200 kilometres south of Roebourne on the
north-west coast of Western Australia. It's estimated the land holds iron ore worth $280 billion
dollars at current prices. Over the next 40 years FMG is hoping to scrape some 2.4 billion tonnes
of ore from the land. The infrastructure and people that come with this type of development will
inevitably reduce much of the country to an industrial landscape.

In return, FMG is offering a deal that would deliver the Indigenous owners cash payments of four
and a half million dollars a year and undertakings to provide training, jobs and infrastructure
worth up to six and a half million dollars a year. The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation says it
wants an uncapped royalty that would guarantee them a share in FMG's expected profits. Andrew
Forrest has refused this, claiming that massive streams of cash could be seen as mining welfare
that would cause the people more harm than good:

"I can take you back to Halls Creek or Fitzroy Crossing, or Roebourne is probably the worst
example, where a preponderance of cash and not responsibility, not opportunity attached to
responsibility, slowly but insidiously decimates communities and we can't support that."

The head of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, Michael Woodley, says that this suggests
Indigenous communities can't manage their own affairs:

"At the end of the day I think we've displayed over some 50 years that we can walk and chew gum at
the same time. We are educated; we're intelligent. The autonomy, that is what we're looking for."

These differences of opinion and the failure to agree on a package have resulted in the formation
of a rival group of Yindjibarndi seeking to settle with FMG. They fear if a deal isn't struck soon
that they, as Indigenous owners, may get nothing.

Indigenous leaders told Four Corners that, despite the hopes raised by Native Title legislation
nearly 20 years ago, they believe miners maintain the upper hand in negotiations. Under the
legislation all mining companies are compelled to give native title holders is a hearing. If after
six months of negotiations there is no agreement, the miner can apply to the Native Title Tribunal
for approval - and in almost every case the mining lease has been granted.

Four Corners looks at how a potential windfall that could benefit so many has become mired in
bitter dispute. Is Andrew Forrest right that royalties could be the road to ruin? Are sections of
the Yindjibarndi simply asking for too much? Is the Native Title legislation ruinously flawed?

"Iron and Dust", presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 18th July at 8.30pm on ABC1. It
is replayed on Tuesday 19th July at 11.35pm. The program can also be seen on ABC News 24 at 8.00pm
Saturdays. It is also available on iview and at Video on Demand.

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: His name is Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest. He says he loves and respects
Aboriginal people.

That's why, he says, when it comes to mining their land he isn't offering an open chequebook.

ANDREW FORREST, CEO, FORTESCUE METALS GROUP: We've seen what welfare in any shape or form, mining
or corporate or government welfare does to communities.

MICHAEL WOODLEY, CEO, YINDJIBARNDI ABORIGINAL CORPORATION: Well without a doubt I think we've
displayed over some 50 years that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We're educated, we're
intelligent. The autonomy is what we're looking for.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Welcome to Four Corners.

We're now well used to sensational headlines about the fabulous wealth being extracted from
Australian soil and offshore in various parts of the country - a bonanza that could last for many
decades. Nowhere is that wealth more evident than in the north-west of the continent.

No individual has benefited more from this mining boom than Andrew Forrest, whose personal wealth
derived from massive iron ore deposits on his company's mining leases in the Pilbara is well into
the billions.

He earned plaudits from leaders in business and government three years ago for launching an
ambitious drive for Indigenous training and employment across Australia that, if successful, could
dramatically change the landscape of Aboriginal poverty and despair.

More recently, Andrew Forrest and his company, Fortescue Metals Group have attracted less
flattering attention over their dealings with one Aboriginal community in the Pilbara.

Under native title law, the mining company has had to negotiate in good faith with the Yindjibarndi
people, offering them a limited share of the huge profits it expects to make from the iron ore it
has found on their land. But four years of ultimately acrimonious negotiations have split the
Yindjibarndi and their leaders, and left the talks mired in legal argument.

Andrew Forrest has driven a tough bargain compared to some other big miners in the region, because
he says he regards their approach as mining welfare.

This saga also highlights the very inconsistent outcomes the Native Title Act has delivered to
Indigenous communities around Australia.

Liz Jackson was a substantial way into this story when she was taken ill and was unable to complete
it. Liz is on the mend, but I've filled the breach with this report.

The Western Australian Pilbara is an expansive region, rich in Aboriginal tradition.

Six years ago the Yindjibarndi people won a 10-year fight for native title recognition over some of
this country, after proving their unbroken cultural connection to the land. A second claim is in
train.

Yindjibarndi man Michael Woodley is determined that those ancient links continue, and with family
and others is packing up to head bush.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: It's an opportunity, you know, all the time you must do it, take the kids back.
You must teach them about the country, you must teach them about the history, the language, the
songs, the stories - everything about Yindjibarndi is out there and that's what these kids they
need to understand. Going back home is where they find their true identity.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Woodley is the head of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, the body that
represents the seven elders who claim native title rights over the land.

That role has led him on another journey these past few years, also central to his community's
future - building a relationship with mining companies.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: We live in an area that is rich in resources - iron ore, gas salt, so on and so
forth - but we seem to be going backwards in fixing up our community. We have a poor condition
housing, poor health, bad education standards and we are only going backwards.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The miners have been drawn to the Pilbara's rich, red landscape in pursuit of
another objective - hundreds of billions of dollars worth of iron ore.

The chief mining interest in Yindjibarndi country is the dream of one man who has his own
connection to the land.

Andrew Forrest, who founded the Fortescue Metals Group, grew up on a Pilbara cattle station,
settled by his great-grandfather in the 1870s.

ANDREW FORREST: My strongest mentors outside of mum and dad were Aboriginal people. There was a
wonderful old boy called Scotty Black who I saw grow from being a stockman to a head stockman to an
overseer to assistant manager whenever dad was away and he was in command of 20 to 30 people at any
point in time and we all jumped to whatever height he specified.

But at the same time, Kerry he walked in another world equally as strongly, even more beautifully
and that was his own culture, his own social, wonderful fabric of being Aboriginal. And he was the
senior law man and he did the initiation ceremonies, the circumcisions, the wonderful corroborees
and he held both of these together beautifully and he set a great example.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Michael Woodley and Andrew Forrest - two men of the Pilbara - are now pitted against
each other.

Forrest's previous iron ore exploits have already made him a billionaire, and with Fortescue Metals
Group, FMG, he wants to develop a massive new mine called Solomon Hub on Yindjibarndi land. There's
an estimated $280 billion worth of iron ore at present day values, waiting to be extracted from the
ground.

The Yindjibarndi won native title rights in 2005 over the northern section of their land, and are
waiting for a second claim to be decided on land further south.

FMG has taken out 43 exploration tenements covering half of the 13,000 sq km of Yindjibarndi land.

It is this southern portion where the Solomon mine will be located. The Solomon project will double
the size of FMG's already substantial operation.

Over the next 40 years FMG is hoping to scrape some 2.4 billion tonnes of iron ore off this land.
The infrastructure and people that will come with it will inevitably reduce much of this country to
an industrial landscape.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Over there is a feature of significance places that tells where the Yindjibarndi
country stops and another group starts.

LIZ JACKSON, REPORTER: Tell me what you see the country looking like in about 20 years time?

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Well, I think in the rate that these things are happening, exploration minings, I
don't think we'll have a country left basically.

Everything we have here today now is pristine, untouchable. No more. It's going to be gone forever.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Home these days for many Yindjibarndi is the impoverished town of Roebourne, an hour
or so north of their traditional country.

The town has around 1,100 residents. About three-quarters are Aboriginal. Unemployment is high and
the local prison overcrowded.

It's a town in decay - many of the shopfronts are long closed down. Even the local pub shut its
doors years ago.

Forrest says he's also seen the depths of Aboriginal misery in Roebourne.

ANDREW FORREST: If you want to join me one evening after 11 o'clock at night and walk down the
streets of Roebourne and have little girls come up to you, like they have to me and offer
themselves for any type of service I don't want to mention on television for the cost of a
cigarette, then you know you've come to the end of the line. Social breakdown is complete. Now I'm
not going to encourage with our cash that kind of behaviour, Kerry.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: We've suffered for so long and the only way to get out of poverty, the only way to
fix up some of our social problems is to, is to insist that these companies pay a fair deal.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The negotiations between Woodley's Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation and Forrest's
FMG, over access to land for mining, began four years ago. The Yindjibarndi opening gambit was for
a 5 per cent royalty, then worth an estimated $150 million a year.

Four Corners has obtained this video of a three-day meeting in Roebourne early in their
negotiations, in June 2008.

BLAIR MCGLEW, GROUP MANAGER, PILBARA APPROVALS, FMG (Excerpt from Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corp
meeting, June 2008): I guess what feels fair to one party doesn't feel fair to another party...

KERRY O'BRIEN: A 5 per cent royalty was pie in the sky for FMG's chief negotiator Blair McGlew. For
FMG from the outset, it seemed a royalty in the true sense of the word was never to be part of the
equation.

BLAIR MCGLEW (Excerpt continued): That number is extortionally high, it's way beyond, it is
probably 10 times higher than any other number...

KERRY O'BRIEN: The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation offered a compromise of a 2.5 per cent
royalty. Blair McGlew insisted that any royalty be capped at a maximum of $2.8 million a year. FMG
would spend an extra $2 million on training future Indigenous workers.

Later in the three-day meeting, Blair McGlew made plain that FMG would be influenced by the
company's focus on its bottom line.

BLAIR MCGLEW (Excerpt continued): FMG wants to be the lowest cost producer - that's our goal,
that's our number one goal out there. And we recognise that we don't pay quite the same money as
some other companies, so we have put our energy and focus into other areas, and that is employment
support and business support.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In an early meeting I think Blair McGlew, your negotiator, June 2008, a meeting in
Roebourne said that Fortescue wanted to be the lowest cost producer in the Pilbara and that, and
that that was in the context of you would only go so far in your deal.

ANDREW FORREST: I think he was referring to the mining costs and operating and shipping costs
Kerry. It's, I mean we're not the lowest cost when it comes to Aboriginal involvement and we are
one of the most expensive in terms of...

KERRY O'BRIEN: But they're part of your costs.

ANDREW FORREST: Well...

KERRY O'BRIEN: They're part of your overall costs.

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry they absolutely are but that's the important part I think.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The message it seemed to me from that meeting was, we're going to be very prudent in
this deal, we're going to drive a deal about costs because our overall costs, we want our overall
cost to be low. Is that wrong?

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry we do want always our overall cost to be as competitive as possible, it is
how we can survive as an independent Australian company. The line I would like to draw in that is
when it comes to Aboriginal contribution in Indigenous involvement we've always gone way, way
beyond the call of duty.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In that same 2008 meeting, the Yindjibarndi leaders were also told that if they
couldn't reach agreement, FMG was prepared to use legal action to push its plans through anyway.

BLAIR MCGLEW (Excerpt continued): Fortescue will always use legal avenues to get our mining leases
and roads and whatever else. I'm not going to hide that. We will do that every time, because we are
in a hurry, in a rush.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That statement highlights at least one reality of Australia's native title laws.

Ciaran O'Faircheallaigh is a native title expert from Queensland's Griffith University. He's
attended hundreds of meetings between mining companies and Aboriginal groups over the past 25
years.

He says that while they have a seat at the table, Aboriginal groups often don't have equal power.

PROF. CIARAN O'FAIRCHEALLAIGH, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY: When a mining company sits down to negotiate
with native title parties there is a six month period of negotiation. The mining company knows that
at the end of the six months it can go to the National Native Title Tribunal and get its mining
lease.

This is a very simple and fundamental point. If one bargaining party is under enormous pressure to
do a deal and the other one isn't, the people who are under pressure generally have to give in and
that's what's happened and that's why, except where Aboriginal people have major political power,
deals tend to be very uneven.

KERRY O'BRIEN: O'Faircheallaigh says the original Native Title Act was spawned in the belief there
would be pressure on both sides to strike a deal because there would be no certainty about what
would happen in the Native Title Tribunal. But that was not the way it turned out.

CIARAN O'FAIRCHEALLAIGH: Out of some 25 cases where a conflict over a grant of a mining lease has
gone to the tribunal, in only one case has the tribunal turned it down. The tribunal has been very
reluctant to impose onerous conditions on mining companies. For these reasons mining companies have
come to believe that if they go to the tribunal they are virtually assured of getting their mining
lease. So the pressure that should be on them to reach agreement is not there.

ANDREW FORREST: The Native Title Act doesn't give us that certainly Kerry. We can only operate
according to the act and there is always uncertainty around it, which is why the native title
parties have such a strong hand in negotiations.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But the but the very clear message was if we can't negotiate, yes we'll negotiate in
good faith and I'm speaking from the heart but if we can't negotiate in the end we'll get there.
The project will go ahead.

ANDREW FORREST: Well, well Kerry...

KERRY O'BRIEN: We will use our legal means.

ANDREW FORREST: Not always, not always.

KERRY O'BRIEN: We will use the legal means.

ANDREW FORREST: I mean and projects get delayed and as they're delayed you lose massive present
value. So if the cost of the delay is extraordinary and, you know, if you're prepared to bear that
cost because you really believe in what you're doing, that you do not want to be part of the
welfare cycle, then that's a big cost and we have worn that cost.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Negotiations continued, with concessions on both sides, but in 2009 they
disintegrated completely.

BLAIR MCGLEW: Michael Woodley removed himself from the negotiations. He said the negotiations are
over. So we said that's fine, if the negotiations are over then the deal's off. That's, that was
his choice. He chose down that path. We tried to mediate a solution. I tried to re-engage him. Now,
that didn't work.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: I think, you know, you're better off holding onto your pride than selling your
soul to the devil. You know if the Government allowing mining companies to come into our community
and dictate terms, right, and then put Indigenous people in a position where they say if you're not
going to accept this then you're going to get nothing. We live with nothing for so long. We live
with nothing today.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Not all elders were happy that Michael Woodley was taking such a hard line. Allery
Sandy is one of them.

She is a senior Pilbara artist with works depicting her traditional land displayed in the Art
Gallery of Western Australia.

ALLERY SANDY, WIRLU-MURRA YINDJIBARNDI CORP. MEMBER: I started off doing this. I did some
landscaping as well, land paintings of standing stones and all that sort of stuff, which sold
quick. And I love doing Cossack, the river, the mangroves.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Last year, Allery Sandy was part of a push with some other elders to form a new body
- the Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation - to revive the deal with Andrew Forrest's
group. It receives some financial support from FMG.

There were 10 original native title claimants to the land containing the Solomon project. Three of
them have since died, and of the remaining seven needed to sign off on any deal with FMG, three
have gone across to the Wirlu-murra group. The other four, including Michael Woodley, have
continued to refuse to sign.

The latest offer is a $500,000 signing fee, a fixed or capped $4 million a year in cash, plus up to
$6.5 million a year in staff housing, jobs, training and business opportunities. This is in return
for allowing all future mining activity on all Yindjibarndi land.

The new group wants to take FMG's offer rather than risk getting nothing if the courts rule in
FMG's favour.

Vince Adams is one of those keen for a deal.

VINCE ADAMS, WIRLU-MURRA YINDJIBARNDI CORP. MEMBER: The deal that's on the table is not the best
deal, trust me. You say it's not a deal that's worth pennies, okay. It's not the best deal but at
the end of the day it's a deal we can work on to move forward.

ALLERY SANDY: With that offer we can build on it, we can have things that the elders wanted like
education, health and training. We see many other communities that have started with a deal like
that and, you know, we can do the same, yeah.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But the discord is also personal. Some didn't like Woodley's management style.

ALLERY SANDY: Elders never had a chance to speak up, to put their voice through and to be heard by
the other groups and this has been going on for a long time and we had enough. You know we are
elders. We want to be respected as elders and we have told this group many times you are
accountable for all Yindjibarndi people, not just your little group you know. We are Yindjibarndi
people here.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: We have since been finding out since they started their corporation that their
position by supporting FMG's deal is the only reason that they broke away from the main corp. They
didn't express those feelings at all when they were a part of the decision-making process.

KERRY O'BRIEN: FMG had set up an office in Roebourne and signalled their door was again open for
talks.

They also provided practical support to the new Wirlu-murra group, including contract work, money
for administration, an anthropologist, and lawyers from a Perth-based legal firm.

How much funding have you provided to them to deal with you?

ANDREW FORREST: Well look they did head hunt one of our key anthropologists and good luck to them.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And have you paid him on their behalf?

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry, under the Native Title Act we have to deal with an equal party. So they
recruit lawyers, accountants, anthropologists, independent experts and send us the bill. You know
it's a, it's not a bad deal for them. They have put together their own legal and financial and
anthropological team and we have to fund that if we want to deal with them...

KERRY O'BRIEN: But the end result is, the end result is that you haven't shifted one iota in your
bid so what you're saying is you have to provide them with all of this expertise to be an equal
party to a deal in which you're not going to budge and that they know from the outset they've got
to accept or get nothing.

ANDREW FORREST: No. Kerry to be conscionable we have to make sure they're fully armed with all the
services and skills that they need to reach an agreement with us. Now they've come in...

KERRY O'BRIEN: But the only agreement they can reach is the one you're not going to budge on.

ANDREW FORREST: Well not at all Kerry. They...

KERRY O'BRIEN: You are going to budge?

ANDREW FORREST: They- we have an agreement already but they also know, Kerry and I've really would
be grateful if you could accept this point, they know Fortescue's never stopped at the foot of an
agreement yet.

We've signed six other agreements like it, we've got another few to go and it's always the same
Kerry. After the agreement is done, Fortescue's always gone massively beyond that agreement. But
Kerry, yes it isn't in the form of cash payments. We know what that does to communities and the
heart of Fortescue, my own heart just can't be part of that. It's easier to do it but we won't do
it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Four months ago division over the stalled mining talks reached boiling point.

ALLERY SANDY (Excerpt from Wirlu-murra group meeting, March 2011): I'm going to give you time to
cool off. Five minutes out. No, no we are just going to go into our meeting, nothing else. This
meeting is set for the agenda.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The Wirlu-murra group called a meeting to try to wrest control from the Yindjibarndi
Aboriginal Corporation.

It wanted approval to withdraw all legal objections to FMG's plans and to immediately finalise a
deal with the miner. And if any of the senior elders refused to sign off on the agreement it wanted
the meeting's support to seek Federal Court intervention to strip them of their authority.

Four Corners was given access to hours of video footage of the meeting.

(Excerpt continued)

MICHAEL WOODLEY: If the motivation is about money...

ALLERY SANDY: No it's not about money.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Then look what happened....

ALLERY SANDY: Your money is coming out of your heart and your head and your feelings. I don't know
what you are talking about money, your mother need money, not us.

(End of excerpt)

As emotions ran high, centenarian elder Ned Cheedy - one of the four native title claimants
refusing to accept the deal - rose to speak.

NED CHEEDY, ELDER (Excerpt continued, subtitles): It's my country! Everybody listen to me. Have you
all got ears? I want you all to listen to me. Listen to my words. Listen to me and my words.

KERRY O'BRIEN: After disagreement over who should run the meeting the Wirlu-murra's lawyer Ron
Bower took the chair.

RON BOWER, LAWYER, WIRLU-MURRA GROUP (Excerpt continued): What my clients have asked me to do is to
move directly to the business items of the agenda. The various items in the agenda have to do with
the proposals from the Wirlu-murra members that Yindjibarndi enters into an agreement with FMG
rather than continuing to be in the legal dispute.

KERRY O'BRIEN: As the meeting continued, it became more and more heated.

(Excerpt continued)

MICHAEL WOODLEY: The man sitting outside is a billionaire and we in here are poor, arguing about
what? Tell that bloke to come in here and talk to us. Tell Andrew Forrest to come and talk to us,
he wants our country... No, no, no, we're not going to go to any agenda mate. Bring him in. Bring
him in.

ANDREW FORREST: Hello everyone. My name's Andrew Forrest. I'm a local boy up here. I grew up in the
Ashburton Country near (inaudible) and I've been coming to Roebourne since I was two years old. And
I have a really heart for the people here, I have a great love for this country and I do want to do
whatever I can to see this community grow and improve with my own efforts.

And with your own efforts, working together. And my heart is with Aboriginal people, it always has
been, it always will be and I'm very prepared to do everything I can to help you. Now if you've got
any questions for me I've very pleased to take them from you.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Thanks for coming here because what we have right is a really serious issue today.
Today what we have right...

MAN: Can't hear you Michael!

WOMAN: Get on the microphone Michael.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: I was just saying was thanks to Andrew for coming because what we have here today
is a very serious issue. We have a community divided. On one side of the, one side of one side of
the floor we have a people who are willing to accept an agreement put by you on the table that has
no future for this side of the people, right. Now we...

ANDREW FORREST: That's wrong. That's completely wrong.

(Shouting)

MICHAEL WOODLEY: We read your agreement, we understand your agreement and to be frank with you it's
crap, right. You're coming to us saying we want to mine your country, take 50 per cent of your
country and give you $4 million capped, right. In return we give you training, employment and
business opportunities.

Now they are broken promises. If people want to do that, that's fine, right. But there's a big
issue here Andrew, and the issue comes with Yindjibarndi people looking after ourselves from the
country that's making you rich and your shareholders and your investors.

ANDREW FORREST: Okay, look I've heard... (applause). I've have read those statements in the thing,
in the papers which Michael Woodley has put out. What I would like to share with you and this is
why I am here, I am here personally, what Michael Woodley just said to you is blatantly untrue. It
is completely false.

And I would like to share with you why it is false. I think you judge a person not on their words
but on their actions. What do they actually stand for, what is the calibre of the man? If you look
into the soul of the person, right, and you know if you look at me what I've already done for
Aboriginal people.

I've had one message I give and I've been giving this ever since I became a businessman, the more
you know Aboriginal people the more you love them.

(End of excerpt)

KERRY O'BRIEN: Lawyer Ron Bower sought to move onto a series of votes to get endorsement for the
FMG deal. Michael Woodley tried to get further access to the microphone but failed.

(Excerpt continued)

RON BOWER: Okay. We're going to take a vote on this motion...

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Ron, Ron.

(Wrestle for microphone)

RON BOWER: Okay. We are going to put the motion. (Crowd shouting) Can I see the hands of those that
support this motion? Big up, high. I'm going to count the hands.

(End of excerpt)

KERRY O'BRIEN: The series of motions were put to the vote, and passed by an apparent majority,
disputed by Woodley's group, who walked out in protest and declared the outcome invalid. Woodley
says the majority of the community wasn't present.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: It wasn't a majority. The majority didn't vote in favour of the deal. There were
people who were, who were, who were bussed in from another town to come in and to help support the
FMG Wirlu-murra attempts to try and overturn what we say is the majority of people who are voting
against this deal.

ANDREW FORREST: Under the Native Title Act we have to deal with a majority of the community and if
the majority of the community make their case so clear that they hold a meeting and vote...

KERRY O'BRIEN: But how, how legal was that meeting as a...

ANDREW FORREST: Oh Kerry, it was completely legal thank you. It had about 170 people in attendance
and 90 per cent voted in favour of it.

SCREEN TEXT (Excerpt from Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation video): Fortescue Metals Group (FMG)
is aggressively pushing to mine iron ore in Yindjibarndi country - they call is Solomon Hub.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Woodley's group later posted edited footage of the meeting onto the internet. It
soon went viral.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Well I think the main reason for putting on the website is just to give people
some sort of understanding of what really happens behind the closed doors of native title
negotiations.

ALLERY SANDY: It's a sad thing. And that's really hurt me a lot (crying) to see someone who we
respected and put in there as an eldership. It was our Yindjibarndi business to be sorted here in
this community of Roebourne. That's where we sort our problems here, not for everyone to see, the
Governments and everyone else. This is Yindjibarndi issue and he made it state-wide, he made it go
on the internet.

ANDREW FORREST: It didn't show the very clear attempts to repeat the result of every other meeting,
which is to stop the meeting going to a vote. The shouting and the intimidations and the threats
was not on that video. What we saw was abuse by them towards us and others, we saw that lawyer as
you've pointed out defend the microphone so that his people could speak too, not just the minority
group.

And what I really resented about that video is that it didn't show what the people wanted, it
didn't show the votes, it didn't show them voting 95 to five in favour of the resolutions, in
favour of moving on.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Was it also the way you were depicted you didn't like?

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry, look I think it was unfair, it was defamatory but we turned the other cheek
and moved on.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But before moving on, FMG issued legal threats to the video-hosting website that
resulted in them deleting the video. It has since reappeared on YouTube and other sites.

CIARAN O'FAIRCHEALLAIGH: I don't believe that what was shown on that video is typical of the
behaviour of mining companies in Australia. I have attended hundreds of meetings; I have never seen
a meeting that was like the one on those YouTube videos.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But whatever the legalities of the acrimonious meeting back in March, there is still
the issue of how the quality of the deal driven by Andrew Forrest's FMG compares with others in the
Pilbara.

Last month, five Indigenous groups reached a happier agreement over their country with global miner
Rio Tinto.

The deal includes an uncapped royalty of 0.5 per cent of all ore extracted, plus a comprehensive
package of business and employment. Being uncapped, the deal is potentially worth far more than the
Fortescue deal, as much as $2 billion over the next 40 years.

Elders Cyril Lockyer and Elaine James say the negotiations took seven years.

CYRIL LOCKYER, KURUMA & MARTHUDUNERA ELDER: I think it's the end of the long weary road that
everybody has been sort of looking forward to, in regards to getting an agreement signed and a lot
of the stuff we talked about in regards to employment, training and compensation and I think it
should be benefit for everybody in the group.

ELAINE JAMES, KURUMA & MARTHUDUNERA ELDER: Well my best hope is by, you know, people got
opportunities to be self-sufficient. You know, one day own business and put up something for their,
feed the children, you know, they're just still coming up you know. They'll be the ones that gonna
benefit more. You know big step for us was just getting to this final agreement, you know, although
it's been a very hard road for us to get there and finally we are here.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Simon Hawkins was their representative in the negotiations.

SIMON HAWKINS, CEO, YAMATJI MARLPA ABORIGINAL CORP.: In 10 years time I want to come back and hope
that that all those commitments that have been made by Rio Tinto are met and that traditional
owners are actually getting on with their business, getting on with their life.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How do you compare what you were offering ah the Yindjibarndi people with what Rio
did with its deal, where I think it was 0.5 per cent royalty valued at something like 10 times what
you were offering these people?

ANDREW FORREST: Well look you're making a point, I'm glad you brought that up Kerry because there
was a brew-ha-ha in the media about the $2 billion - it was over five communities, so divided by
five, and it was over 40 years, so divide that five by another 40. You come down to around $10
million a year for each community group.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You put a, you put a limit on the amount whereas they apply a percentage. In the Rio
deal for instance they have applied a percentage so as the plant expands, as the ore goes up, as
the amount of ore comes out of the ground, so the royalty will change. Yours doesn't.

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry, you're drawing on one example out of hundreds. There are hundreds of others
who are equal precedents and they pay more, they pay, they pay less or they pay none at all.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Andrew Forrest has likened the payment of more generous amounts of cash in mining
royalties than his to mining welfare.

(To Andrew Forrest) Why is it welfare, why isn't it a right on the part of these people? I don't
see how you can get away from the fact that you are making a judgment that they are not able to
properly manage their own money.

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry they are but...

KERRY O'BRIEN: You're either saying that they're not entitled to any more money as a business
transaction and so therefore you're only going to give them the $4 million plus the 6.5.

ANDREW FORREST: Per year.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Per year

ANDREW FORREST: Four hundred million Kerry.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Yeah, per year.

ANDREW FORREST: Most Australians think that is a lot of money Kerry.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Ah well that depends on how much you're getting.

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry...

KERRY O'BRIEN: But, but, but I, it seems...

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry that is a...

KERRY O'BRIEN: Just let me continue with the, continue with the proposition. Either, either you are
saying that this deal is only worth that much to them or you are saying, well it's actually worth
more but that's all I'm going to give you because I don't know that you can actually handle it
yourself.

ANDREW FORREST: Ah Kerry it's unfair of you to draw that proposition. It is completely unfair of
you to draw that. We had a proper negotiation as we're required to under the Native Title Act and
we fulfilled the letter of that law and more. And Kerry just because we choose to not hand out
bucket loads of cash, Kerry this is a negotiation. There are two sides. You're behaving as though
we're obligated to and somehow we're doing the wrong thing if we don't. That is your inference.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Well, at the end of the day I think we've displayed over some 50 years that we can
walk and chew gum at the same time. We are educated, we're intelligent. The autonomy is what we're
looking for, the self-sustainability of making decisions about our own life and our future is what
we tell people like Andrew Forrest and FMG that you need to, before coming into our community and
talking to us, that you need to that you need to first and foremost respect.

CIARAN O'FAIRCHEALLAIGH: The High Court said in 1992 that native title is a property right. It is a
property right in the same way that other forms of property are owned by millions of Australians,
yet that seems to be forgotten in debates about benefits from native title. Why should a miner be
able to tell Aboriginal people how they use revenue that they receive as a result of having a
property right? What would happen for example if a mining company tried to tell Gina Rinehart how
to use her royalties from iron ore in the Pilbara?

KERRY O'BRIEN: A key part of FMG's offer to the Yindjibarndi, is the promise of training and jobs.

BRENTON: I was doing the health worker before, but wasn't for me so thought I'd come here and get
on the course and get a job out there on Solomon's.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Here in Roebourne, FMG has set up an Indigenous training program through the local
TAFE to help prepare new recruits, like Brenton, for the mines. He's one of 17 trainees at FMG's
Vocational Training and Employment Centre, or VTEC.

BRENTON: Mum and dad happy that I'm doing something, you know, instead of being a lowlife sitting
around at home and whinging to them for weekend money to go out partying and stuff, you know. Least
I get my own income and do my own thing. Don't have to be dependent, stand on my own two feet.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Wirlu-murra member Vince Adams also believes employment is vital.

VINCE ADAMS: They've changed their life around in eight weeks, eight weeks. They're now working
people. They're employed, you know. They're educated, they're, you know, they're employed, they're
out there, they're, you know, changing their life around.

You go round Roebourne and you see them, you see the difference, you see the, you know, the
fluorescent coloured shirts hanging on their lines.

CIARAN O'FAIRCHEALLAIGH: Don't forget that employment and the wages that are paid in employment are
for an honest day's work. It amazes me to hear some people in the mining industry suggest that
wages are a benefit for native title holders. They are payment to people for their work. You can't
use them to compensate a community, you can't use them to foster culture, you can't use them to set
up new businesses, you can't use them for educational scholarships.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Andrew Forrest has certainly earned praise from some Aboriginal leaders on another
front. In addition to his own FMG training and jobs program VTEC, he's the key player behind a
multi-million dollar national scheme to give Aborigines jobs across a range of industries.

ANDREW FORREST (Speech, August 2008): It's the mark of any society as to how they look after their
most under-privileged as to the quality of their nation. That is why we are here.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The Australian Employment Covenant was launched in 2008 with the backing of then
prime minister Kevin Rudd and media baron Rupert Murdoch, with the ambitious promise of placing
50,000 Aborigines in new jobs from one end of Australia to the other within two years.

After three years, the covenant has just seen 4,300 jobs filled. But with growing corporate
support, the AEC says it now has 58,000 guaranteed job commitments.

ANDREW FORREST: We've worked the phones now for two and a half years, chief executives and
chairmans all across Australia, and 300 of them have stepped up and have signed that commitment,
that covenant to pledge a job to an Aboriginal person and now it's the challenges on government,
the Indigenous communities and the rest of Australia to create the environment that those
Aboriginal people feel confident to take that job be, take that training because there's a job
guaranteed at the end of it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In Port Hedland, FMG is celebrating after reaching its own target of training and
hiring 300 Aboriginal workers under the covenant.

ANDREW FORREST (Speech): We are not doing this because we're great fellas. I'm not doing this
because I want to win an award. I'm doing this because I can tell you straight, employing
Aboriginal people is great for business.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In the more remote areas, the future prospects of indigenous Australia will be
strongly linked with mining and associated industries for many years to come.

But it's now abundantly clear that negotiations under the native title framework are complex and
can fracture families and communities. Nor does the framework guarantee consistent outcomes.

SIMON HAWKINS: The Native Title Act has given a seat at the table for Aboriginal people. But in 19
years you would have thought there would have been significant amendments to ensure that the Native
Title Act provided a better framework for the economic opportunities particularly that are
presenting themselves in the Pilbara at this moment.

CIARAN O'FAIRCHEALLAIGH: The Native Title Act should be amended so that the National Native Title
Tribunal can include payments based on production or on profits as part of any determination. That
would remove part of the pressure on Aboriginal people.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you believe, whether it was the intent of the act or not, that the deck has
become unfairly stacked on the side of the miners away from the Aboriginals?

ANDREW FORREST: Kerry that is just so untrue, it has...

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well I'm asking you as a question.

ANDREW FORREST: Yeah well I... no you're presenting a proposition. Kerry it has not been unfairly
stacked. Before the Native Title Act existed there were very few, if any, contributions. The Native
Title Act has come in and there are now contributions everywhere. That's great.

Where Fortescue stands is, because I've been in this country, unlike you know so many other
executives, they might swing their way in from London or wherever, I've grown up in this country,
I've seen how wonderful these people are and how they can slowly be strangled at the hands of
welfare, how many funerals that I've personally been to...

KERRY O'BRIEN: Okay...

ANDREW FORREST: Friends of mine from school Kerry and so we live and breathe this.

KERRY O'BRIEN: In the meantime, the Yindjibarndi conflict continues to simmer. The Wirlu-murra's
lawyers have just launched Supreme Court action to have an administrator appointed to the
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, or YAC. They claim it hasn't been run properly.

ALLERY SANDY: We would like to take over but also we would like the YAC CEO to step down and the
chairperson to step down and we would like to put someone else in there who can be honest with us
and do what the people want.

MICHAEL WOODLEY: Look this is, this is very serious for us. For these guys to take this approach
means that they're not holding back in terms of what they want to, what they are trying to achieve.
The bottom line to this approach is to seek control of the YAC so they can then go ahead with their
relationship with FMG on this very bad deal. This is the bottom line.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Even if a deal is reached, Roebourne Aboriginal Church Pastor, Marshall Smith says
the scars in his community will take a long time to heal.

MARSHALL SMITH, ROEBOURNE ABORIGINAL CHURCH PASTOR: The bottom line in the fight, it's all about
the royalties, the negotiations. It'd be all about somebody saying I want $10 and somebody else
saying I want $100.

The bible actually teaches that. It says for the root of all evil, money that is, and it's all
kinds of evil that people scheme to get to that root. For the love of money is the root of all
kinds of evil.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Up the road, the Yindjibarndi's most senior lawman Ned Cheedy - who has just been
accorded NAIDOC's award for Lifetime Achievement - is recording his ancient stories for a new
generation of Yindjibarndi.

He's trying to preserve not only his culture, but the community itself. With no certainty of a
windfall from the mining boom, a strong culture may be the most valuable thing they have.

NED CHEEDY (Subtitles): Divided now, all of us. Yindjibarndi's, all of us are the country, country
we must bring back together. And all of us Yindjibarndi, we all became divided. I feel in my spirit
a very terrible thing happening.

(Sound of singing and Aboriginal music)

KERRY O'BRIEN: That report was produced by Peter Cronau and Karen Michelmore.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

Return to program page: ╗"Iron and Dust"