Traditional Owners from the Beetaloo Basin region who oppose fracking on their country today expressed their solidarity with senior Larrakia people who are frustrated by the failure of the Northern Territory government to properly consult with them about the proposed Middle Arm development.
(‘Another Juukan Gorge’: Darwin’s Middle Arm hub threatens Indigenous rock art, traditional owners say).
Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation represents members with native title interests across the Beetaloo Basin who wish to protect their country, water and sacred sites. Fracking companies say some Beetaloo gas will be sent to Middle Arm, for export.
Yesterday, at a meeting in Elliott in the heart of the Beetaloo Basin region, senior Traditional Owners met and issued a statement calling on the NT’s Chief Minister to “stop this rush to [fracking] production, not sign production agreements but come to where we live and meet with us and listen to our concerns”.
The full statement, sent to the NT government, Federal Ministers Burney and Plibersek and the Northern Land Council, is found below. In part is says:
“We worry that the government has given the go ahead for [fracking] production. We are told there will be agreement making meetings happening as soon as June. We are confused and it has created fighting between families.
“We have never been told the number of wells or the full scale of what is planned, the risks. Our concerns have not been taken on by the Northern Land Council, the companies or the NT Government.
“The gas companies should be providing full information about their plans, so we can discuss and make right decisions in line with traditional decision making ways.”
Full statement: Protecting country, water and sacred sites
Meeting of Traditional Owners from Beetaloo Basin, Elliott, 11 May 2023
To: Chief Minster Fyles and Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison
cc Northern Land Council, Tanya Plibersek and Linda Burney
We, senior custodians and Traditional Owners from the Beetaloo Basin, met to find out more about fracking and what is to come for our country. We have never received enough information from the Government or the land council to help us make informed decisions.
We want to protect country, water and sacred sites from damage. We want to be able to take children and grandchildren hunting and keep our sacred places safe.
We have never been properly consulted. We worry about pollution and the many hundreds, maybe thousands of wells to come. Some of us have seen the damge from just one or two.
We do not believe in the promises that there will be jobs and economic benefits for us. And would rather see economic development that is sustainable for our country for generations to come - renewable energy or other development that doesn’t result in large scale destruction of whole areas of country.
We worry that the government has given the go ahead for production. We are told there will be agreement making meetings happening as soon as June. We are confused and it has created fighting between families.
We have never been told the number of wells or the full scale of what is planned, the risks. Our concerns have not been taken on by the Northern Land Council, the companies or the NT Government.
The gas companies should be providing full information about their plans, so we can discuss and make right decisions in line with traditional decision making ways.
We know that our country and water is connected. Damage in one place will flow down and affect each other's country. We have been asking for many years for the NLC to hold a regional meeting, where we can all come together, discuss and make decisions our own way. They have not supported us to do that.
The government should stop this rush to production, not sign production agreements but come to where we live and meet with us and listen to our concerns.
Signed by Johnny Wilson, Mark Raymond, Ray Dixon, Michaela Henderson, Elaine Sandy, Samuel Sandy, Gail Sandy, Sharon Bill, Neil Allum, Angela Allum, Rachel Henderson, Charlotte Cooper, Janey Dixon, Harold Dalywater.
Quality photos for download here. Flaring gas well behind, with Nurrdalinji Directors and members, here. Nurrdalinji Directors, including the spokespeople quoted, here.
Fracking in the Beetaloo
The NT Government estimated in the NT Pepper Inquiry Final Report (p 98) that over 6,000 wells could be drilled in the Beetaloo if the fracking industry progresses.
First Nations communities raised serious concerns with the Inquiry about the threat of fracking in the Beetaloo to country, cultural values and landscapes, and water sources, and the lack of free, prior and informed consent processes.
Nurrdalinji Aboriginal Corporation
The Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation includes native title holders from the Amungee Mungee, Beetaloo, Hayfield, Kalala, Newcastle Waters - Murranji, Nutwood Downs, Shenandoah, Tandyidgee, Tanumbirini, Daly Waters Township, Ucharonidge native title determinations.
The Beetaloo sub-basin is located around 500 kilometres south-east of Darwin. It embraces Aboriginal land, pastoral leases (which co-exist with Native Title rights and interests), horticultural enterprises, cattle stations and remote Aboriginal communities. A number of companies are currently undertaking fracked gas drilling in the region, with most of the NT covered by exploration permits.