Aug 2nd 2021

“We won't allow fracking on our Country” - Traditional Owners unite voices in front of Senate Inquiry

Traditional Owners have demonstrated their united strength today, giving powerful testimonials before a Senate inquiry into fracking in the Northern Territory.

The Traditional Owners of the ​​Northern Territory’s Gudanji, Yanyuwa, Garrwa, 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. We are united.” 

The inquiry examines the Federal Government's $50 million grants program helping gas corporations to establish fracking projects across the Beetaloo and McArthur Basins, which will destroy and desecrate lands, waters, and sacred sites cared for by Traditional Owners and First Nations communities.

Traditional Owners from across the Beetaloo and McArthur River Basin areas each raised the same concerns, regardless of where they're from. They spoke against the Government’s handouts to mining corporations to frack on their land. In joint objection they have gone on the record to state that they do not consent to these fracking projects, emphasising the lack of consultation and risks to water supply.

The Senate established the inquiry in June after more than 35,000 GetUp supporters signed an open letter from Traditional Owners promising to fight any attempt to frack their country. Traditional Owners also met with politicians in Canberra to lobby for Parliament to scrutinise the handout.

GetUp First Nations Justice Campaign Director Larissa Baldwin said:

“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.” 

Standing united before the Senate Inquiry on Monday, Traditional Owners said:

Mr Gadrian Hoosan: “Government are putting money towards all of these companies. This $50million we keep hearing about should be spent in community.

“All the Traditional Owners right across the Territory are pulling together as one...We had the fracking inquiry a few years ago but everyone here in the community and right across, all said no to fracking, but they still went ahead,”

Mr Bruce King: “Our concern is for our Country and what’s on it. It’s important for us to protect it as much as we can because we don't have any other home. 

“When we say no to fracking on our Country, can you accept it? When we say no, that’s a simple word,” said Bruce King. 

Ms Joni Wilson said: "Country is important to me because it’s my life. It's part of my body, soul and spirit. It provides food, water and healing. Country is important because I live off my land as my ancestors did. Without our land and our water we are nothing - we're nobody.

We have not been given any information about fracking, we have not given anyone permission. No one has asked us, and even if our old people had, no one understood what was being asked. So no, we haven’t given permission."

Mr Asman Rory said: “The devastation of mining in the region for such a long time has destroyed and perished our people because of the inadequate essential services to our people. Not even acknowledging the rightful owners or getting proper consent on Country where we belong and where we are from.”

“The federal and Northern Territory governments have the audacity to give away $50million to fracking companies, when we have a crisis - especially housing, families, health, education, language culture, stories, practices, history, our water, our songlings, our practices... It’s my responsibility to protect as a custodian,” said Asman Rory.

Mr Jack Green said: “We’re really worried about fracking. The water that lies under the land is connected to Aboriginal people - our lore and culture fits into the ground as well as the land underneath. It feeds all Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people. Water and land is very important to all Aboriginal people. It doesn't matter where you go, it’s all tied to our songlines. 

Mr Nicholas Fitzpatrick said:
“There was no information given, no real explaining what they were going to do on Country, all they talk about is royalty...People need to know why this fracking is banned in places across the world.”

Ms May August said: “I’m worried about fracking for our water… stop fracking for our future land and for our future kids, for our kids to drink that water - we don't want that to be poisoned” 

Ms Judith Ward said: “Everyone (in our community) feels the same, because we live in a small community - word gets around. They don't want fracking happening.”