In the last week two Northern Territory councils have joined the rapidly growing list of local councils across Australia who have supported moratoria or passed motions of opposition or concern about unconventional gas mining. Leading the way in the NT, Wagait Shire Council passed its second anti-fracking motion on 15 February to oppose fracking as a process to explore and extract gas because of inherent risks, particularly its significant risk to water security.
“The action of councils on this issue demonstrates the huge community opposition to fracking in the NT. Unlike the NT Government, Councils are not seduced by the spin of the industry and the allure of money for treasury,” said Alex Richmond, resident of Wagait Beach and member of the ‘Don’t Frack the Cox’ community group.
“Councils are responding to the genuine, heartfelt and well-founded fears of the community that this technology is dangerous and the risks are great. People all over the NT, indigenous and non-indigenous, are literally fighting for country. Local Governments are listening,” she said.
The Wagait Shire decision was followed by a motion passed by Katherine Town Council last night supporting a moratorium on fracking activity within the entire Katherine municipality. There are now more than 60 councils Australia-wide who have passed similar motions, with all mainland states now represented.
“It is great to see that our local Council has listened to the concerns of the Katherine community in passing this motion for a fracking moratorium across the shire,” said Don’t Frack Katherine member and Katherine resident, Charmaine Roth. “The community asked Council to consider all the evidence that is coming to light and the numerous reports that are now available that show that the unconventional gas industry is unsafe and they have done so.”
“This action from Council will increase pressure on the NT Government to implement a Territory-wide moratorium on fracking until essential independent baseline data is collected, environmental laws and legislations are strengthened, and it can be proven 100% that our water, lifestyle and livelihoods are not at stake.”
“We are also asking Council to keep lobbying the NT Government for an extension of the existing petroleum exploration exclusion zone that covers Katherine.”
“The current exclusion zone is clearly inadequate as it leaves an entire Aboriginal community, a large portion of Katherine’s rural residential blocks, farm lands, and environmentally and geologically sensitive areas within the Katherine municipality open to potential exploration for unconventional oil and gas,” she said.