Australian news, and some related international items

Northern Territory Remote Aborigines – “We were not adequately consulted on fracking permits”

Northern Territory Indigenous community says it was not adequately consulted over fracking permits By Nadia Daly Yaho 7 News,  March 29, 2015, The granting of fracking permits on Aboriginal freehold land in the Northern Territory is stoking tensions among some residents of a remote Aboriginal community who say they were not adequately consulted.

Last week, the NT Government announced it had granted the first two petroleum exploration permits on Aboriginal land managed by the Northern Land Council (NLC).

Jilkminggan community, 140 kilometres south-east of Katherine, with a population of about 300, sits in a zone that excludes fracking, according to the NLC.

However, fracking has been permitted over nearby swathes of land. News that gas companies could now drill exploratory wells on their land came as a shock to many in the community.

The permits give three resource companies – Imperial Oil and Gas, Minerals Australia and Jacaranda Minerals – the right to explore for oil and gas, including through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Fracturing – or fracking as it is often called – involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to fracture rock layers deep within the earth to extract natural gas.

It comes just a month after a NT Government report found regulations on fracking were not yet robust enough to manage environmental risk.

Jilkminggan residents told the ABC they knew little about fracking and were not informed about the practice or its risks at any consultations with the NLC or oil and gas companies.

Some said at community meetings there were a large number of people who did not agree to the licences being granted……

consultations with oil and gas companies and the NLC were not comprehensive enough.

“They always come to old people,” Ms Farrell said.

“Some traditional owners don’t have English, good understanding to say no. They just sign.”……..

Those who attended the community meeting in Jilkminggan were outraged that fracking could take place on their land.

Their concerns centred around what they saw as a threat to the river and underground water systems surrounding the community.

The Roper River is the lifeblood of the town: people fish there for food and children spend their days swimming and playing in the streams.

“I’m only young myself and I want to have kids one day and I don’t want them to be poisoned,” resident Simone Baker said.

“I don’t want to look out the back door and see there’s no water in our river. I want to go fishing and eat the fish I catch.

“I want to live on my own country without worry about the consequences of what white people do when they sink bores, put poisons down there, all for gas.”

Roper River ‘is the life of this area’: pastoralist

Leaseholders on nearby land shared the concerns of the community about the lack of consultation and lack of knowledge about environmental risks associated with the fracking industry.

Unlike Aboriginal traditional owners, there is no legal requirement for pastoralists to be asked permission or even informed before oil and gas companies begin exploration work on their land.

Pastoralist Daniel Tapp from Big River Station was furious about the granting of fracking permits near his property.

“We feel like we haven’t got a voice here, and no-one’s been told about anything.”

He said the law needed to change……….

“It’s a recipe for disaster. The environmental laws that they have to follow aren’t up to standard but they’re letting them do it anyway,” he said.

“Most of our water is from the river, the Roper River. It’s the life of this area.”…..

David Morris from the Northern Territory’s Environment Defenders Office said the NT’s laws were the weakest in the country, and it was not enough for industries to self-regulate.

“We need to upgrade our regulations and laws in the Territory,” he said.

“The government says it was taking steps to do that. In my view you should do that before you allow the process to go ahead.”

April 4, 2015 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory

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