Guardian: I feel responsible for my role in fracking agreements signed long ago. But I won’t stop fighting to save the Beetaloo basin

June 20, 2023 2:14 PM

When I heard the news that fracking would go ahead on my grandparents’ country, I felt my spirit and heart were breaking.

Last month the chief minister of the Northern Territory, Natasha Fyles, opened the door to large-scale fracking of what the gas industry calls the Beetaloo basin.

The land to be mined includes my paternal grandmother’s country.

In 20 years, when the chief minister is growing old and grey, she is going to look back and feel guilt for saying yes to fracking the territory. She will think: I was part of that land damage. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have listened.

When I heard the news that fracking would go ahead I felt my spirit and heart were breaking, because I felt responsible for the role I played back when fracking exploration agreements were signed, many years ago now.

I was living in the remote community of Elliott and on the council when I first came in contact with the gas companies who wanted to mine our country. In meetings with their representatives I was more or less just acting as an interpreter for our old people, whose first language was not English, and who did not understand what the companies were saying to them.

The companies only spoke about how signing agreements to allow gas exploration would bring benefits. They said, “you’ll get a lot of money, we’ll even give you money for your children’s education”, and so on.

Nobody ever told us the other side – about what sort of havoc this type of mining could do to our land and our people.

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