NT Pastoralists: Fracking ‘access agreements’ mean negotiating with a gun to our heads

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                                                                               3 NOVEMBER 2015

NT Pastoralists: Fracking ‘access agreements’ mean negotiating with a gun to our heads

Territory pastoralists say NT Government ‘access agreements’ lock in an unfair bargaining system where landholders are forced to negotiate with “a gun to their head” with large petroleum companies and are calling for no-consent petroleum permit approvals to be revoked.

Gulf of Carpentaria pastoralists, Aboriginal Land Trusts and Native Title holders representing 8 pastoral stations including Calvert Hills, Manangorah, Seven Emu, Greenbank, Mallapunyah, Spring Creek, Bahunia Downs and more than 50,000 square kilometres of land have joined together with Native Title holders in a statement to the NT Chief Minister to halt Armour Energy’s extensive fracking plans in the region. The statement comes ahead of Friday’s COAG meeting where Federal, State and Territory leaders will be urged to grant landholder’s rights to say no to invasive mining.

Stephen Anderson is a fourth generation pastoralist, Traditional Owner for the region and owner of the family-run Manangorah Station who runs a cattle and joint tourism and commercial fishing operation on his property in the South West Gulf.

“The NT Government has been selling our land in the Gulf to investors as the new unconventional gas province but no one has had the decency to even ask the landowners what we think about it. Today we have written to the NT Government and fracking company Armour Energy calling for Petroleum Permits over our properties to be revoked. We have never been consulted, and we do not consent to these fracking permits on our land. We will challenge any attempts to drill for gas on our properties.”

“It was a shock to me the first time I saw roads being bulldozed and water being taken by a drilling company on our property. No-one has spoken to us. Armour’s shale gas petroleum permits over our land risks everything we have built up over generations and currently enjoy on our properties: our tourism and fishing operations, high value grazing land and most importantly, water security.”

Access agreements and an arbitration system flagged by the NT Government are not legislated, and would not apply to the 32% of 44 million hectares of land in identified ‘highly prospective’ shale gas regions across the Territory including the McArthur and Beetaloo Basin leaving landholders with no improved rights to negotiate over access.

Frank Shadforth runs the successful Seven Emu cattle station and popular tourist attraction near Borroloola:

“In the Gulf we are facing the prospect of another bad Wet and ongoing drought. Fracking for shale gas is a water intensive industry, requiring up to 15 million litres per frack to extract gas. That water then risks being poisoned by leaking frack chemicals and gas, or flooding from surface holding ponds. How are we supposed to co-exist with that kind of heavy industry on top of ours? It would simply run us over and off the land.”

“Despite access agreements in place in QLD it hasn’t stopped gas companies bullying landowners for access because they know they can simply win in court. If fracking goes ahead, it would wreck our existing industries and shut down family-run businesses. Is that the type of development for the North the government is on about?”

“The Government has shown that it can remove permits and permanently protect areas from fracking including the recent Coomalie and Wattarka Kings Canyon gas reservation decision because of its impacts on areas on areas of high cultural and tourism values, and existing food growing and residential living areas. Here in the Gulf region we fit the same bill and are calling for the same protections to be applied.”

“These laws do not go far enough. We are calling for the right of every landholder to say no to this damaging industry, and for the government to respect our hard-work and economic contribution to the Territory by revoking these permits immediately” concluded Anderson.

 

For comment or context contact:

Lauren Mellor, Frack Free Alliance NT 0413 534 125

Stephen Anderson, Manangorah Homestead 08 8975 9549 or Frank Shadforth, Seven Emu Homestead, 08 8975 9904