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.
Fracking jobs figures slashed, free water subsidy revealed: New economic report
A report released last night by the NT Fracking Inquiry reveals a massive drop in projected jobs figures if fracking goes ahead across the Northern Territory.
The previous Deloitte’s report that has been used to push the fracking industry showed that in 2040 there would be 6,321 jobs in the highest possible fracking scenario.
In stark contrast, the new ACIL Allen report shows there will be only 558 jobs in their highest possible development scenario by the year 2043. (See page 138 of the report for a direct comparison.)
“This new economic report by ACIL Allen shows will get less than 10% of the jobs we were told we would get in the previous Deloitte’s report if we allow fracking across the NT,” said Naomi Hogan of the Lock the Gate Alliance.
“The 13,000 jobs figure in the ACIL Allen report is based on adding up the jobs required each year over 25 years. It assumes that every person loses their job after just one year, and then a new position is created. It’s a misleading figure.
The report shows that total employment in the Northern Territory was 132,200 in August 2017. So even if we go with the highest number of fracking wells, we’re still only getting an extra 500 jobs in a year. That’s a tiny 0.4 percent increase in the number of jobs in the Northern Territory.
“The report shows that even if this risky fracking industry were to proceed, there would be less than half of a percent extra jobs created each year in the Territory, and most of these would be for fly in fly out workers from other parts of Australia.
The report reveals that fracking companies will access all their water for free. (See page 52.
“While Territorians pay through the nose for water, this report highlights a NT Government subsidy for the fracking industry to extract billions and billions of litres of Territory water in the coming decades for free.”
“There are other industries in the NT creating far more than a few hundred fly in fly out jobs that do not put groundwater at risk from fracking chemical contamination and spills, and do not rely on getting access to billions of litres of free water.
“Defying scientific reports on the impacts of the fracking industry, the report fails to cost in the impacts on other Territory business who could have their water supply drop, or their water contaminated by spills and leaks.
“ACIL Allen failed to account for any loss of money to tourism operators and food growers that rely on clean uncontaminated groundwater and natural springs.
“This economic model reveals it does not include the costs to the NT economy from having to deal with the long-term contamination impacts of fracking chemical spills.
News today that Gina Rinehart will hand back licences within 25 kms of the Mataranka Hot Springs proves that push back from the local community and the elevation of scientific concerns are having an impact. However she also reaffirmed her plan to frack the region, showing there is more to do to ensure the entire water recharge area for the hot springs is protected from fracking.
“The Mataranka Hot Springs are recharged by water that flows through underground aquifers more than 25 kms away, and the natural integrity of that whole region is critically important to the local community,” said Naomi Hogan of the Lock the Gate Alliance.
“Gina’s desperate attempt to win back trust through handing part a small part of her fracking licences only reaffirms that the plan to put fracking gasfields through the water recharge area of the Mataranka Hot Springs is completely inappropriate.
“Groundwater experts are saying more research must be done to determine the risks to Mataranka from fracking through the groundwater recharge areas for the springs.
“Neither the NT Government nor the NT Fracking Inquiry knows how far and how quickly fracking contaminants could travel into that groundwater and into the Mataranka Hot Springs.
“We need proper scientific studies and to listen to the local community and Traditional Owners, not smoke and mirrors from a company that wants to frack at the expense of our natural assets,” she said.