Hundreds unite in Darwin in vow to fight fracking
In an outpouring of community sentiment against fracking, over 500 hundred people gathered in Nightcliff today to take a united stand.
The hugely defiant crowd was full of families and long term Territorians, coming together off the back of more gatherings in Alice Springs and Katherine in recent days.
Dozens of statements poured in from representatives of the areas targeted for fracking that couldn’t make it to the gathering in person.
Garawa man from Borroloola Scott McDinny was in Darwin for the event and said:
“Our community has spoken loudly and clearly that we do not want fracking on our lands and through our waterways. We are already dealing with lead poisoning in our water at Borroloola. It’s a disgrace on the NT Government.
“The United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples Rights states that all Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination and autonomy, to clean water, to healthy lives.
“We demand clean water, and together with united Territorians we will ensure that fracking does not take place in our homelands or anywhere in the NT. Water is precious, water is life. We will not allow any more water to become poison.
Tourism operator Rob Woods said:
“The Gunner Government is putting jobs on the line by failing to protect the Northern Territory’s tourism industry from the negative impacts of broad scale fracking gasfields.
“The water pollution and industrialisation of up to half the Northern Territory in fracking gasfields is completely unacceptable. We will challenge this every step of the way.
“Territory visitors and my customers are already reaching out to share their passion for keeping the Northern Territory frack-free – not 49% of the NT – but the whole of the NT protected from risky gasfields.
“We can’t afford to loose visitor numbers to a Stuart Highway clogged with thousands of fracking chemical trucks. We’re worried about our jobs and our industry,” he said.
A representative of the Aboriginal Medical Services Association NT reaffirmed their strong opposition to fracking on health grounds and expressed deep concern that it would be Aboriginal communities bearing the brunt of negative impacts.
The community gathering vowed that the coordinated effort against risky fracking was only just beginning.
Lauren Mellor from Frack-Free NT said:
“The strength and determination in the crowd today was incredible. Territorians don’t trust the Government to control such a polluting industry that has caused so much damage elsewhere.
“We reject having to spend millions of the public’s money on assisting the fracking industry get started in the Northern Territory.
“We’d rather be putting millions into investment to kick start growth and jobs in renewable energy in the NT.
Fracking has been banned in many countries of the world and in regions of North America. There are serious concerns that the NT Government and the onshore gas industry cannot be trusted to properly implement and maintain the 135 recommendations that are supposed to help regulate fracking in the decades ahead.
Chief Minister’s frack decision a betrayal of science and communities
Frack-free NT condemns the decision by the Gunner Government today to cave into industry pressure and expose 51% of the Northern Territory to fracking gasfields.
“This decision is a betrayal of the science on the risks of fracking, and Territory communities who have battled for years to protect our land, water and livelihoods from this highly invasive industry,” said Lauren Mellor, spokesperson for Frack-free NT.
“It is a dark day for our democracy when we have had unprecedented participation in the Inquiry into fracking, and tens of thousands of Territorians petitioning, rallying and meeting with government members to express their opposition to fracking, only to have the Gunner Government sell us out to the interests of multinational fracking companies.”
“But we will not take this decision lying down. Communities, landholders and businesses right across the NT have pledged to redouble our efforts until a Territory-wide fracking ban is in place. For us, this is just the beginning.”
Gadrian Hoosan, Borroloola Traditional Owner says: “Our people right through the region where drilling and exploration are planned have been clear – we do not want this industry risks our land, water and culture.”
“Gunner has shown he doesn’t have the courage to stand up to the fracking bullies, but we do. This decision locks our communities into ongoing conflict with the gas fracking companies, but we will not back down until there is a complete ban on fracking across the NT.”
Territory tourism operator, Rob Woods, says: “The Gunner Government has sold out our sustainable, successful tourism industry and the thousands of jobs we support on the promise of a few dollars revenue from the gas fracking industry.”
“Industrial gasfields and the heavy vehicle traffic it brings to our roads will have an immediate and detrimental impact on the Territory tourism experience, driving down visitor numbers and hurting regional economies. We won’t stand by and let this happen to our iconic tourism areas and our industry.”
Petrena Ariston, a Katherine tourism operator says: “Tourists come to the Top End to experience its pristine areas and fish our clean rivers. Yet the Gunner government has decided to risk all of this by allowing fracking in our water catchment areas that provide farm, stock and drinking water for tens of thousands of Territorians.
“I thought Gunner might be a leader with vision but instead he is repeating the mistakes of his CLP predecessor and taking us down the boom and bust road of big fracking, where companies profit and communities suffer.”
This week the Katherine and Roper Gulf Regional Councils took strong positions against fracking in their regions, with unanimous backing from both organisation’s elected representatives.
Katherine and Roper Gulf are the two largest regional councils covering communities across what the gas fracking industry calls the Beetaloo sub-Basin, stretching from Katherine down to Daly Waters and east to Borroloola on the QLD Border.
The Councils are concerned that their region’s strong tourism, farming and fishing trade and local water supplies would be damaged if gasfields were introduced overtop.
Both regions have experienced significant impacts to the health of regional water supplies from chemical PFAS contamination and legacy mining, and cited residents’ concerns that the fracking industry would bring unnecessary risks to local communities to support its position.
The motions were passed in response to the NT Fracking Inquiry’s draft final report which states more studies on the region’s land and waterways would need to be completed before it could determine the level of risk from fracking.
Katherine Town Council Alderman Jon Raynor moved the motion at Tuesday’s meeting and was pleased to see it had the unanimous backing from fellow Aldermen:
“Katherine residents have been consistent and clear that they want local government to stand up and protect the region’s land, water and local industries like farming and tourism from reckless fracking. With this motion, we have sought to do that. Now we put it to the Territory Government to follow suit and implement a permanent ban on fracking. We can’t afford to take a drill and see approach with our water.”
Roper Gulf Regional Councillor Keith Rory from Borroloola said his community had conducted a doorknock survey of its own residents last year and found 96.8% opposed fracking. A similar community survey in Mataranka conducted in 2016 found 96.2% of residents wanted the region kept gasfield-free.
Councillor Rory moved the Roper Gulf Regional Council motion, which states:
‘Elected members of the Roper Gulf Shire Council have heard the concerns expressed by our constituents, including a significant majority of our region’s tourism and farming businesses, pastoral lease holders and local communities regarding the risks of fracking gasfields.
The NT Fracking Inquiry has stated it does not have enough information about our region’s land and waterways to understand how fracking could impact.
The Roper Gulf Regional Council does not support lifting the moratorium on onshore shale gas fracking, and in doing so writes to the Chief Minister and relevant Ministers to formally convey our position.’
Both local government organisations are now awaiting a response from the Northern Territory Government.
Last month Alice Springs Town Council also passed a unanimous motion for the fracking moratorium not to be lifted.