Traditional Owners call for ban on shale gas fracking: NIT

Rudi Maxwell (AAP) – May 11, 2023
Original Story here

Traditional Owners call for ban on shale gas fracking

Protesters say the federal and NT governments have broken promises over fracking. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

“What do we want? Clean water! Who do we want it for? Our sons and daughters!”

So chanted protesters on the lawns of parliament house as they called on the federal government to listen to traditional owners and ban shale fracking.

Widjabul-Wiabul woman and GetUp chief executive Larissa Baldwin-Roberts said they were standing in solidarity with traditional owners from the Northern Territory.

Ms Baldwin said the Labor federal and NT governments had broken promises to Indigenous people.

“For decades traditional owners across this country have been saying ‘no’,” she said.

“They’ve been saying no to fracking on their country and they’ve been saying that they want to protect their cultural heritage and their water.

“What we saw in last night’s budget was millions and millions of dollars going in to super-charge these projects and steamroll our communities in order to get fracking going.”

Nicholas Milyari Fitzpatrick, a Yanyuwa-Garrawa traditional owner from Borroloola, said they didn’t want gas mining on their country.

“We’ve been saying no to fracking for decades,” he said.

“How can we trust the government to listen to this gammin voice if they can’t put a stop to the very thing that is destroying our land, our songlines and our water?”

Ms Baldwin said the Albanese government was in one breath talking about support for an Indigenous voice and in the next it was ignoring the voices of thousands of traditional owners.

“We know, in terms of our climate, what has been happening,” she said.

“Earlier this year we saw across the Kimberley and the NT, thousands of people displaced because of climate disasters. We cannot keep fracking fossil fuels.”

The Northern Territory government announced last week fracking could go ahead after it lifted a five-year moratorium.

About 500km southeast of Darwin, the Beetaloo Basin contains an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet of gas, making it one of Australia’s most energy resource-rich areas.

While fracking for gas in Australia has been used in coal seams in the past two decades, shale fracking – which is done much deeper below the surface – is yet to be trialled.

Ms Baldwin said the federal government needed to step in and strengthen environmental controls over the gas industry.

“Shale gas fracking requires drilling down to a depth of up to 4km, that’s a long way and that hasn’t been done commercially in this country,” she said.

“What does that mean when you start messing with deep aquifers?

“In the Beetaloo Basin, some of the aquifers they’re talking about fracking could also affect the Great Artesian Basin.”