Traditional owners have given emotional evidence at a Senate inquiry into fracking in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin.
Opening up parts of the Northern Territory for hydraulic-fracturing – or fracking – is a major part of the Morrison government’s ‘gas-led recovery’ which has been incentivised by $50 million of taxpayer money to explore the region.
One company, Empire Energy, has already been given $21 million in government grants to fund the drilling of three wells in the basin’s east. The company is a political donor and Liberal-linked, the senate inquiry has previously heard.
Speaking at the inquiry, traditional owners rejected any idea that Aboriginal communities had given consent to open up their land to the practice.
CEO of the Northern Land Council, Joe-Martin Jard, said they were not consulted by the Federal Government on the $50 million grant.
Traditional owners of Gudanji, Yanyuwa, Jingili, Mudburra and Alawa nations made their message clear: “Hear us when we say: we won’t allow fracking gas fields on our country. Not now. Not ever.”
Johnny Wilson, the chair of the Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, had a blunt message when asked about the $50 million incentive for gas exploration.
“If I had my way I’d say take it and shove it. My country is worth more than $50 million. My country is life. Please give us a fair go. Please, we are begging with our grieving hearts.”
Mr Wilson told the inquiry Elders had not been properly informed about the impacts of fracking.
“Our Elders never really understood what fracking was all about. They were told: one well, two wells. Now how many wells are going to be in place? A lot. Our Elders never fully understood the impact on Counrty.
Get Up First Nations Justice Campaign Director Larissa Baldwin said the positions heard at the inquiry showed the Senate had no choice but to disallow fracking on Country.
“Now the Senate Committee has heard directly from Traditional Owners, and everyone else, it’s clear there is no support for the Government’s $50 million handout to gas. The Traditional Owners, and other stakeholders, have left the Senate with only one option – to disallow the regulation.”