Mar 25th 2020

Fracking must be shut down to protect remote communities from COVID-19

Fracking companies and FIFO workers are putting remote Aboriginal communities at risk and must be declared non-essential, say Indigenous residents living near gas fracking sites in the NT.

The NT borders have been shut to acknowledge that remote Aboriginal communities are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, already facing health issues and living hours away from medical care.

Residents are concerned that FIFO workers are not subject to any testing or quarantines before accessing areas frequented by remote community residents.

GetUp’s First Nations Campaign Director Larissa Baldwin said:

“The only way these remote communities can be kept safe is for all non-essential work, like fracking, to be shut down.”

Ray Dixon, whose Native Title lands at Hayfield cattle station are currently being explored for gas by Origin Energy said

 “As late as last week we’ve seen fracking company workers coming in and out of our local petrol station and shop, and holding meetings at our roadhouses.”

“The government needs to put a stop on this now, or its not safe for our communities to move around, go to the shops or put fuel in our cars. Do they care about our lives at all, or just do what the companies want?”

Garrwa and Yanyuwa man Gadrian Hoosan from Borroloola said he was concerned for his community’s safety, with mining and gas workers able to continue traveling through the region:

 “What is a concern for me is the FIFO workers - what if they’re affected by Covid-19 and they spread it to our people by coming here?

“If there’s a problem with tourists coming here, then there’s a bigger problem with mine and gas workers flying in from international and interstate areas and not being tested before coming through our regions, that’s what worries me.

“The Gunner Government needs to shut it down if they’re serious about protecting our people.

“The money being poured into fracking operations should be redirected to our local health services that are essential during this pandemic.”

We’re calling on the government to redirect funding from fracking operations to essential local health services that need it ”