Mine or Yours?: The Sites of Struggle at the Carmichael Coal Mine in Queensland, Australia

Mr Michael Rupic1

1University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, United States of America


The Carmichael Coal Mine in Queensland, Australia is a case study on the issue of the violation of native title claims as a result of the transnationalization of the coal mining industry. India’s Adani Group has proposed an integrated project involving a coal mine, a railway system, and a shipping port, which would allow for both the extraction and the exportation of coal. Controversy surrounds the mine for several reasons, including the impending displacement of indigenous individuals/communities from their homelands. I will answer the following research question: How does the prospective violation of native title claims impact indigenous individuals’ identities and/or senses of belonging in a contested landscape? The paper will examine the extent to which state/federal governments have taken into account indigenous rights during the decision-making process for a large-scale mining development. The research focuses on the phases of approval for the proposed mine—a significant development that has challenged the native title system in Australia. The study will assess the degree to which the rights of Wangan and Jagalingou—the traditional owners that possess a native title claim over the region—have been upheld by employing theoretical frameworks such as political economy/ecology to provide insight into the implications of resource exploitation.


Michael Rupic (rupic@hawaii.edu) is a geographer who is  integrating the fields of human geography and physical geography. Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Geography & Environmental Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Michael is interested in human-environment interactions in the context of development, environment, and mining. Currently, Michael is pursuing a Master of Arts (MA) in Geography & Environment at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Michael is conducting fieldwork towards the completion of a thesis entitled “Coalrush: The (Re)Vitalization of an Industry at the Carmichael Coal Mine in Queensland, Australia.”

Denaturalising the compact city | Rethinking spatial justice

Ms Claire Collie1

1University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia


Distinct urban morphologies emerged in conjunction with an overriding shift to neoliberal urbanism. Melbourne’s compact city planning imaginary represents both a driver and a product of these urban transformations, with inequality becoming increasingly pronounced. Much has been written since the 1970s to analyse injustices characteristic to urban transformations, and yet cities continue to grapple with spectacular yet ethically gaunt landscapes. Contemporary Melbourne materialises the violence of neoliberal urbanism, exemplified by a plethora of urban pathologies associated with unrelenting scale, visible homelessness and the repeated and intentional destruction of urban heritage.

Saskia Sassen has been acute in responding to the variegated spatial justice outcomes of emerging urban morphologies. Rather than viewing them as simply ‘a bit more of this or that’, she urges that these ‘new logics of expulsion’ should be regarded as systemic ruptures requiring a different language. Urban theory is seemingly relentless in its generation of novel grammar to analyse emerging urban trends. Changing conceptualisations of spatial justice within urban theorising can be perceived as epistemic disruptions that deserve more scholarly attention. This paper asks, ‘If we change our conceptualisation of spatial justice will it affect the way we see the city? And how we denaturalise its planning imaginary?’.


Claire Collie is a landscape sociologist currently researching a critical historiography of the compact city planning imaginary. She is particularly interested in spatial justice, and gardening.

Conflicts over statues: The legal geographies of time, humour and violence

Mr Brad Jessup1

1The University of Melbourne


This paper concerns a conflict over a statue built by a wealthy landowner in the Margaret River wine making region in contravention of the Western Australian Planning and Development Act 2005. Despite community opposition to the statue, later expressed through the building of a ridiculing monument, and a refusal of the local council to grant a retrospective development approval, the landowners resisted dismantling it, and instead succeeded in obtaining approval from the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia in the case of Pivot Group Pty Ltd v Shire of Busselton [2007] WASAT 268.

Throughout the controversy and the legal process there was disagreement about the appropriateness of the statue in its place, and the values of the landscape and the suitability of a statute within the particular location.

This paper looks to see if any lessons can be drawn to explain the Margaret River controversy and to characterise a legal geography of permitted or removing statues by reference to the social movements to dismantle colonial and confederate statues and their intersections with historical and contemporary laws.


Brad Jessup (brad.jessup@unimelb.edu.au) has an Bachelor of Laws with Honours and a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Geography. He has a Masters of Philosophy in Environment, Society and Development, and is awaiting the examination of his PhD. Brad is a lecturer at Melbourne Law School, where he teaches subjects on environmental and planning law, contaminated land law, environmental rights, and tort law. His research interests include environmental justice  and legal geography. He has recently written on indigenous land claims in Indonesia, the South Australian nuclear citizens jury, and the regulation of pipelines in the peri-urban landscape.

Neighbourly compensations: lawyers, parliamentary submissions and coal seam gas in Australia

Dr David Turton1

1Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia


Landholder compensation is a critical part of Australia’s coal seam gas sector. One way to explore this – and the legal geography and distributive justice issues it raises – is to scrutinise parliamentary submissions prepared by lawyers for government inquiries into coal seam gas-related legislation. Drawing on the lawyer-focussed work of Deborah Martin and colleagues (2010) and the notion of a ‘rural lawscape’ from Lisa Pruitt (2014), this presentation delves into some preliminary findings from a project investigating a Queensland parliamentary committee’s inquiry into the then Mineral, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. During this inquiry, arguments about the geographical scope of ‘compensatable effects’ for landholders impacted by coal seam gas development were raised by lawyers representing a variety of stakeholders. Their submissions gave voice to notions of distributive justice and the ability of landholders to seek compensation for coal seam gas activities. This presentation highlights the value of examining lawyer perspectives on legislation prior to its enactment, showcasing their role as public policy actors and creators of socio-spatial relations. In arguing about compensation and at what scale it should apply, lawyers attempted to shape the spatial limits of distributive justice.


David graduated from the Australian National University last year with a PhD examining Australia’s coal seam gas debate, publishing articles on the legal geography of the sector and key professions associated with the industry. He has undergraduate qualifications in History and Law from James Cook University, with research interests in the legal geography of disability and the history of the ombudsman concept in Australia. David is currently an Honorary Lecturer with the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU. For more information, David can be reached via email, David.Turton@anu.edu.au.

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