Commenting on today’s release of the Final Report of the Senate Inquiry into Fracking in the NT’s Beetaloo Basin, Traditional Owners from the region have called for a halt to fracking exploration and production until proper consultation occurs and the combined risks from what will be a major industrialisation of their country are better understood.
Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation represents members with native title interests across the Beetaloo Basin. Nurrdalinji made formal submissions to the Senate Inquiry and appeared twice at public hearings. Key recommendations of relevance below.
Traditional owner Johnny Wilson, Chair of Nurrdalinji Aboriginal Corporation, who lives in Lightning Ridge within 20 kms of Empire’s exploration wells said, “This is an important report because it tells the story of how we never consented to the scale of fracking on our country which gas companies now want. We hold big fears that fracking will tear the heart out of our land, damaging water and sacred sites.
“Traditional Owners have not been properly represented by the Northern Land Council and we welcome the recommendation that the NLC work more closely with us and that we have a proper say in whether we want fracking on our country, or not.
“We worry we can’t protect our country if fracking goes ahead, while nothing of benefit will come from it for our people, yet the Territory government is still backing company plans to drill up to 6,000 fracking wells across the Beetaloo Basin area.
“There has never been development like this on our country. Native title holders need to be able to come together to discuss how we make decisions about something this big, that can hurt our country and waters in such a fundamental way.
“Fracking at the scale that’s planned should not go ahead without our consent. Our country, songlines, dreaming and water are central to us and we have a responsibility to protect them for future generations.”
Key recommendations from the Inquiry of particular importance to Nurrdalinji relate to the Northern Land Council and free, prior and informed consent (Rec 10), water (Recs 3, 5 and 9) and that the NT government fully implement recommendations of the Pepper Inquiry into Fracking recommendations before production begins (Rec 4).
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.
The NT Government estimated in the NT Pepper Inquiry Final Report into Fracking (p 98) that over 6,000 wells could be drilled in the Beetaloo if the fracking industry progresses.
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.