Aboriginal engagement and agreement-making with a rapidly developing resource industry: Coal seam gas development in Australia

David Trigger, Julia Keenan, Kim de Rijke, Will Rifkin

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26 Citations (Scopus)


The onshore development of coal seam gas (CSG) is expanding rapidly in Australia. The industry's interaction with Aboriginal people has entailed 35 Indigenous Land Use Agreements in the State of Queensland in the period 2010-2013. Though the mining sector and, to some extent, conventional oil and gas development, are the source of much of our knowledge about agreement making in extractive industries, CSG extraction presents distinctive challenges. The industry has a distributed footprint on the landscape and multiple megaprojects are creating new forms of infrastructure to extract and handle the gas. This development is occurring during a period of evolution in law and regulation. The issues associated with agreement making and implementation that arise in this context are addressed here as seen from Aboriginal and practitioner viewpoints. Drawing on qualitative interviews, participant observation, applied native title research and indicative legal cases, we address the significance of capability challenges, the need for improved industry understanding of Aboriginal cultural politics, more explicit attention to factionalism among Indigenous groups, and the requirement for greater professional collaboration among all parties. CSG development can be seen to have accelerated the exposure of the resources sector more generally to the complexities of agreements with Indigenous people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-188
Number of pages13
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


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