Katherine Times: Traditional owners from the Beetaloo Basin join Darwin Festival protests

June 20, 2022 1:31 PM

Traditional owners impacted by fracking projects in the Northern Territory have demanded the Darwin Festival drop their main sponsor, fossil fuel giant Santos. They have joined members of the Northern Territory's creative industries to oppose the Santos sponsorship.

More than 150 artists and creative producers have signed an open letter to festival organisers calling on them to take a leading role in climate action by abandoning sponsorships with fossil fuel companies.

First Nations people and traditional owners of the Beetaloo Basin have criticised Santos' fracking operations for harming their land and disrupting their communities. The group also condemned the fossil fuel giant's funding of the Darwin Festival as an empty platitude designed to justify the continued destruction of their land.

Alawa woman and Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation Director from Minyerri, south-east of Katherine, said her community was sick of Santos damaging their land.

"We want to stop Santos from supporting the festival. What they [Santos] do, is they give us sweet talk by supporting the festival so that we give them the okay to go on our land," said Ms Limmen.

"But, we don't want them to go on our land. What they're doing is they are damaging our land."

Gudanji-Wambaya man, leader and Chair of Nurrdalinji Aboriginal Corporation Johnny Wilson said Santos shouldn't use Darwin Festival to soften their image.

"Santos should no longer have an opportunity at the Darwin Festival to hide its true face," Mr Wilson said.

"Our hearts break when we see how fracking by Santos will ruin our land, water and songlines. Where is the future for our next generation?"

A spokesperson for Santos defended the company's sponsorship of the festival and outlined their commitment to action on climate change.

"Santos has been supporting the Darwin Festival since 1996. It is part of our commitment to support the communities where we live and work," the spokesperson said.

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