Murrawah Johnson, a young Aboriginal woman, is fighting to stop what will be one of the world’s biggest coal mines, in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The mine is also driving coal port development that threatens the Great Barrier Reef.
Deep breath, I tell myself, whizzing up in the lift to meet with representatives of the world’s biggest investment banks.
By the time I step out and shake hands I’ve calmed my nerves and pulled myself together.
It’s game time, and I’ve been sent here to get results.
As a 20-year-old Aboriginal woman, and spokesperson for my people, the Wangan and Jangalingou, traditional owners of central Queensland, I know I am going to have to challenge some preconceptions.
I am here to tell the banks not to fund a huge coal mine – the biggest in Australian history – that will rip the heart out of my country.
More than once, the banks’ top representatives, who are mostly men, compliment me on my strong handshake.
‘I don’t want you to think I am a pussy,’ I explain. ‘I’m here to do business, to represent my people, and the Wangan and Jagalingou are strong people.’
On a three week trip with my uncle, Adrian Burragubba, I’ve left my uni studies, part-time job, best friend and family in Brisbane for a round of meetings with Wall Street, European and Asian banks.
We’re here to tell them why they shouldn’t lend Indian coal company Adani the billions it needs to build the biggest coal mine in Australian history, on our land.