“The cultural impacts associated with the development of any onshore shale gas industry must be fully explained prior to the development of that industry and that a plan be developed to manage those impacts on Aboriginal people and their communities.
By ERWIN CHLANDA
“Aboriginal people and their representatives must be involved in the design and implementation of any such plan.”
That was a recommendation by the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the NT, set up by Chief Minister Michael Gunner and headed up by Justice Rachel Pepper. Her report was released in March 2018.
The Beetaloo Sub-basin, which is estimated to have 500 trillion cubic feet of gas – about one-sixth of the nation’s reserve – gets a special mention.
Today, five years later, an elder of the area, Samuel Janama Sandy (pictured), deputy chairman of Nurrdalinji Aboriginal Corporation, says in a media release about the planned gas development: “In terms of benefits and support from the fracking industry, it’s all talk, talk, talk and no action.
“We are getting a peanut, while the white man is packing up his pocket with cash. We should own land, buy businesses, but we got nothing.
“I live in Katherine in a housing commission flat, on a wheelchair, and haven’t got a car or any of the benefits they say will come from fracking.
“Our people want jobs on country, but not jobs that involve drilling into our country.”
Justice Pepper was reported as promising 32,000 jobs.
Mr Sandy: “We want to protect our underground water, the environment, the animals and birdlife, from fracking.
“We don’t want fracking, at any cost. The gas should be kept in the ground.”
Under former Prime Minister Scott Morrison the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) commissioned a report about the gas project.
The NIAA is an Australian Government agency and hence spending public money.
Liberal Mr Morrison did not release the report, and neither did his Labor successor, Anthony Albanese.