Traditional Owners have again slammed plans to frack the Beetaloo Basin following the release of a secret federal government report that found conditions were “not conducive to strong agreements being negotiated”.
The Blueprint for Aboriginal Benefits Realisation in the Beetaloo Region report was commissioned under the government of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, but only released following a freedom of information request by the Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.
Among its findings, the report concluded “the legislative framework operating in the Beetaloo sub-basin does not favour Aboriginal interests”.
“There is limited community information and knowledge about the impact of resource development in the sub-basin,” it reads.
“There is a risk that companies in the Beetaloo sub-basin will not commit to principles of corporate social responsibility in relation to Aboriginal people.”
Djingili Elder, native title holder and NATAC deputy chairman, Samuel Janama Sandy, said any promised benefits or support from the fracking industry was “all talk, talk, talk and no action”.
“The NT government, the gas companies and the Northern Land Council get the big share and our communities are left without jobs or support to grow stronger,” he said.
“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.”
Mr Sandy said his people wanted jobs on country, “but not jobs that involve drilling into our country”.
“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,” he said.
“We want to protect our underground water, the environment, the animals and birdlife, from fracking. If it goes ahead, everything will be changed.”
Mr Sandy said Traditional Owners did not want fracking “at any cost”, saying “the gas should be kept in the ground”.
“Everything will be changed if they start production pretty soon like they say,” he said.
“We won’t be able to go out on country with our children and grandchildren. It will all be damaged.”
The NT government and the NLC have been contacted for comment.