Traditional Owners lodge emergency objection to gas pipeline land clearing

Media Release                                                                                                             16 February 2017 

Traditional Owners lodge emergency objection to land clearing for NT gas pipeline amid fracking concerns

Traditional Owners have lodged an emergency objection to clearing on their land for the proposed gas pipeline from Tennant Creek to Mt Isa and are calling for the project to be knocked back by the Northern Territory Development Consent Authority.

A representative of the Wakaya Aboriginal Land Trust has formally lodged an objection to the Northern Territory Government, which states that the Trust has not given consent to the land clearing.

Members of the both the Wakaya and Waramungu Aboriginal Land Trusts in the Northern Territory dispute claims from the Chinese-controlled pipeline company, Jemena, that the company has secured their consent for its proposed gas pipeline access route.

The community are concerned Jemena have misled Traditional Owners by downplaying plans to transport fracked gas through the pipeline. Many are worried fracking would poison water and open up country to industrial gasfields.

Paul Wickham, a Wakaya Land Trust spokesperson said: “As far as the Wakaya Land Trust is concerned there is no agreement for this pipeline to go ahead.”

“We are not happy with the way these negotiations have been conducted so far. Discussions seem to be happening behind closed doors between Jemena and the Land Councils even though they are no longer acting for us.

“Aboriginal people have the right to make decisions about development on their own land.  Jemena needs to sit down and speak to our people and our legal team about its proposal is an open and truthful way,” he said.

Max Priest, a Wakaya Traditional Owner added: “We said numerous times that we do not want fracking, as the impact it has on the environment would be devastating both for our water, community, animals and landscape. Jemena has done its own environment study and that’s not good enough.”

“We want the government to start listening us, and deal with the concerns that is raised, not to continue ignoring our people. We need them to come and talk consult and sit with us,” he said.

Dianne Stokes from the Waramungu Land Trust said: “The company told us during consultations that the pipeline was not related to fracking, but we feel Jemena is speaking with a forked tongue. Jemena are keeping landowners in the dark to silence concerns about fracking while elsewhere promoting its plans to transport unconventional gas.”

During consultation meetings Traditional Owners queried the pipeline and fracking and were repeatedly told there was no link.

Traditional Owners are calling for a guarantee from Jemena that fracked shale gas will never be transported along the pipeline.

For comment contact:

Paul Wickham (Wakaya) 0422 011 096

Max Priest (Wakaya) 8964 4789

Dianne Stokes (Warumungu) 0497 301 008



BACKGROUND on the Northern Gas Pipeline

The Northern Gas Pipeline is a proposal for a new 620km gas pipeline from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa that would open up vast areas of the Northern Territory to industrial-scale fracking gasfields.

The Northern Gas Pipeline is being promoted as a major economic project by the Northern Territory Government.

Jemena won the tender to build a gas pipeline linking the Northern Territory onshore gasfields to the East Coast Gas Market and export gas terminals.

Jemena is a company owned by the Chinese (60%) and Singapore (40%) Governments.

The stated justification for the Jemena pipeline is to “stimulate the development of the Northern Territory through increased gas exploration and production”. This means unconventional gas fields and fracked gas.

The Wakaya people have previously called the land access consultation process a sham and walked out of consultations after bullying by the pipeline company.

Jemena is on the record at a mining conference in Darwin pushing the unconventional gas agenda and lashing out at community members who oppose fracking[1].

Jemena have said on the public report about the Northern Gas Pipeline:
“This is the first step of a much larger picture and we’re keen to see more incentives for upstream developers to get on and develop gas, which would enable us to make an expansion of the pipeline, or even an extension of it down into the big demand centres of Curtis Island,” said Antoon Boey, executive general manager of business development for Jemena. [15 September 2016]

At present, more than 85% of the Northern Territory is under application for onshore gasfield exploration, including 40% that has already been approved for shale fracking exploration. For now, community resistance has kept any commercial production offline.

Despite not having yet secured NT and Federal Government environmental assessment and project approval, hundreds of kilometres of steel pipeline are already being stockpiled in Tennant Creek.

Construction contracts have already been booked to commence in late April 2017, while the Federal Government has recently delayed it’s final decision on whether the pipeline should go ahead until 15 March 2017, due to concerns about to significant impacts to Federally listed threatened species such as the Bilby and the Gouldian Finch.

[1] The Australian, 2016, Jemena chief Antoon Boey slams onshore gas critics, u/business/jemena-chief-antoon -boey-slams-onshore-gas-critic s/news-story/693352ef61be6a644 6b5a904ca887ec7