Traditional owners banned from Origin Energy fracking meeting | Katherine Times

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Traditional owners banned from Origin Energy fracking meeting

BANNED: Outside Origin Energy's fracking meeting in Tennant Creek this week, community members hold a list of signatures from more than 200 Traditional Owners who say they have not been consulted about fracking plans. Picture: Supplied.

Traditional owners were forced out of an Origin Energy meeting in Tennant Creek this week after they tried to present a letter with more than 200 signatures contesting plans to begin fracking.

Police were called to the location, where Origin’s fracking plans were being challenged by community members, Native Title holders and pastoralists.

Origin Energy holds exploration permits for over 18,000 square kilometres of the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo gas basin, in the Northern Barkly region.

The NT Government lifted its three-year moratorium on fracking last year, allowing the development of an onshore shale gas industry, which could start any day.

Ray Dixon, a Mudburra Traditonal Owner from Marlinja community near Elliott, said Origin had ignored and failed to consult traditional owners over its fracking plans.

“We have heard Origin claiming it has consent from all affected landholders but this is not true,” he said.

“We wanted to present a letter on behalf of over 200 Native Title holders from Origin’s exploration areas who say they do not support fracking in the area, but instead Origin called the police on elders and children and forced us out of the meeting.”

A spokesman from Origin Energy said the traditional owners and community members were asked to leave as they had not registered to attend the meeting.

“The event was a business to business learning exchange to understand what local businesses have in terms of their service and supply capabilities,” he said.

“We’ve been holding these events to provide the opportunity for local businesses to participate as our exploration program in the Beetaloo progresses.”

“Unfortunately, the community members who turned up to protest were not local business, nor registered to attend.

We are happy to meet with community members if we receive an invitation to do so.

The spokesman acknowledged the strong opposition to fracking, but said the company sees the development of the industry as an opportunity for Territorians.

“While there are some who oppose resource development, the response and support we are seeing from the Territory’s business community is equally as strong.”

Lauren Mellor from Protect Country Alliance joined the protest on Wednesday at Origin Energy’s Barkly roadshow event.

“Local landholders and communities have been clear that dirty fracking gas fields are not welcome in the Barkly region or the wider Northern Territory,” she said.

“Origin Energy’s fracking plans include the use of open evaporation ponds that risk flooding and leaking toxic fracking wastewater onto homelands and cattle stations and polluting drinking water supplies.”

She said the hundreds of people who opposed fracking refused to stand on the sidelines.

“While Origin attempts to sweet talk its way into the Barkly region pushing canapes and bubbles on business owners, the community will be raising our voices to defend our homelands, our water and our future.

“We refuse to stand idly by and let these big fracking companies bully their way into our region without a fight.”

Outside the meeting, Janey Dixon, a Mudburra Traditional Owner said she had wanted to attend the meeting to tell Origin Energy “it was not welcome.”

“Instead of forcing this high-risk industry on our people, the NT Government should be doing more to encourage renewables in the Barkly region for our future,” she said.

“It is time for Origin Energy to walk its ‘good energy’ talk, respect local community wishes and scrap plans to frack the Northern Territory.”

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