Open Letter: Don't Frack the Territory


To Chief Minister Michael Gunner and NT Labor,

We, the undersigned, back a total ban on fracked shale gas in the Northern Territory because it will irreparably damage our water, country and climate.

Currently over 80% of the Northern Territory is covered in oil and gas exploration licences, this is unacceptable. There is widespread opposition to fracking from many Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal station owners, pastoralists  and the broader public. People from all across the Northern Territory, including Borroloola, Katherine and Darwin, are coming together and will do whatever it takes to protect their land, water and ways of life from being poisoned by dangerous fracked shale gas.

In the Northern Territory, Traditional Owners have the right to say ‘no’ only before the exploration stage. They have no right to say no once extraction has started. That means they have no input into how many wells will be drilled on their country, or where those wells will be drilled. They have just one chance to make an informed decision, and that is now, but they aren’t being given all the information:

“The gas company didn’t explain to us what would happen after exploration. Some people were told the impact on the land would be a hole the size of a billy-can.” - Shelia Conway, Mangarrayi Traditional Owner

Over 380 Traditional Owners and members of the Alawa and Mangarrayi Aboriginal Land Trusts are contesting the fracking agreement, they weren’t sufficiently consulted or explained the scale and risks of an operational shale gas field. Vital services like interpreters were not used to explain complex mining techniques and a majority of Traditional Owners were excluded from consultation meetings entirely.

“We were not told that our land could be opened up for thousands of fracked gas wells. Our old people were asked to sign documents that may have been for gas mining but were never properly explained.” - Simone Baker, Mangarrayi Traditional Owner

At the end of July Traditional Owners from the Wakaya Aboriginal Land Trusts walked out of a meeting where gas pipeline company Jemena wants to gain access to their lands for a fracked gas pipeline.

“If we say yes to the pipeline we would be helping the fracking industry to expand across the whole Territory and damage not just our own but other mob’s country. We are standing up and saying no to this pipeline not just for our own sake but on behalf of a lot of station owners and Native Title mob who don’t have any rights to stop the gas companies walking on and damaging their land." - Max Priest, a Wakaya Traditional Owner

Under the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples, of which Australia is a signatory, Aboriginal people have the right to free, informed and prior consent. This means:

  • Traditional Owners should be consulted properly,

  • They should be informed in their language,

  • There should be full disclosure of the risks to our water and country and,

  • When communities say no, it means no.

Communities across the Territory are standing together to protect our water, land and country, and they demand a ban on fracked shale gas.