With today’s Federal Court decision spotlighting Santos’ poor consultation with Tiwi people about its Barossa offshore gas project, Traditional Owners from the Beetaloo Basin say the judgment should act as a warning bell for all fracking companies seeking to consult with them in the hope of securing exploration and production agreements in their region.
Jungai (cultural lawman) Johnny Wilson, Chair of Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation which represents Traditional Owners from the Beetaloo Basin, said:
“We recognise the effort made by the Tiwi people to challenge the process and ensure everyone in the community is properly consulted about drilling work which risks damaging their country, culture and sacred sites.
“We have asked our lawyers to closely examine the judgment and what it means for past and future consultation by companies hoping to frack for gas in the Beetaloo Basin.
“The Tiwi people’s story is our story too. We have not been properly consulted by fracking companies, or the Northern Land Council, and when they do consult they often don’t consult widely.
“Traditional Owners are handed down a responsibility to protect country and have a right to defend it from damage. We should be better consulted and have the final say on whether development should proceed.
“Nearly a decade ago, when our people first heard about fracking, companies played down what was going to happen. Our old people were told about holes the size of billy cans and nothing about the scale of production we’re about to see in the Beetaloo Basin after exploration ends.
“There is no support for us to meet as a group to consider the region-wide impacts of fracking on our water and sacred sites. This is a problem because country is linked by water and risks in one area create risks across the region. The water which runs through our country connects us all as one and affects us all as one”.