The Northern Territory Labor government was swept into power in 2016 promising a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
However, with the lifting of the moratorium in April, the NT government is now moving to open up 51% of the Territory to the risky and highly controversial practice.
Oil and gas fracking threatens underground water due to its toxic mix of injected chemicals and high potential for spills and leaks. The NT depends on groundwater for its drinking water and agricultural production.
In response to the threat of fracking, First Nations communities are speaking out.
Protests have been held across the NT, such in Mataranka, 100 kilometres south of Katherine, where approval has been given for a fracking project.
When former prime minister and current special envoy on Indigenous Affairs Tony Abbott visited Borroloola, he was challenged about the fracking plans. The town, about 1000 kilometres out of Darwin, is already dealing with polluted water from Glencore’s toxic MacArthur River mine.
Artists from NT First Nations communities have also brought exhibitions to Sydney to raise awareness of their struggles for water and against fracking.
Lock The Gate, with the help of Ethical Adventures, recently organised a tour involving Traditional Owners, business owners and pastoralists to see firsthand the impacts of fracking.
The tour’s first stop was the Chinchilla district in south-east Queensland, where thousands of coal seam gas (CSG) wells have destroyed farmland and caused the Condamine River to erupt in flames.
From there they moved to the Pilliga, in northwest New South Wales, where gas company Santos plans to dig 850 CSG wells.
The tour arrived in Canberra on November 27, during the last sitting week of Parliament. Participants reported to politicians what they had seen during the trip and demanded that the federal government pressure the NT government to ban fracking.
On November 30, three Traditional Owners from Boroloola and one from Elliott will speak in Sydney at a “Don’t Frack the Northern Territory” forum. The forum is sponsored by Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney.
Gamilaraay man Raymond Weatherall, who has been active in the fight to defend the Pilliga, and 350.org Australia campaign strategist Glen Klatovsky will also spoke.
[For more information about the campaign visit Don’t Frack the Territory.]