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As Senate inquiry shines light on proposed ‘climate bomb’, Traditional Owners give no consent to frack Beetaloo Basin

Media Release
Dorinda Cox 23 Mar 2022

Following an extraordinary day of testimony at the Senate inquiry into oil and gas exploration and production in the Beetaloo Basin, The Greens have today reiterated their support for Traditional Owners who continue to oppose the proposed ‘climate bomb’ fracking project.

At the Darwin hearing, chaired by Yamatji Noongar woman and Australian Greens Senator for WA Dorinda Cox, Traditional Owners expressed concerns at the continued absence of Free, Prior and Informed consent.

The Greens are also deeply concerned to hear testimony to the Inquiry that: 

  • if fracking goes ahead in the Beetaloo,it will be impossible for the Government or Opposition to meet their Net Zero by 2050 targets 

  • The promise to require all emissions to be offset as a condition of lifting the NT fracking moratorium in 2018 has now been abandoned. The NT government falsely claims they can’t require gas companies to force offsets and are relying on Angus Taylor to do it.

  • Government bureaucrats and politicians are having more meetings with the gas industry than Traditional Owners and pastoralists combined.

  • The head of the Department approving drilling wells came straight from the gas company and exploration permit holder, Santos.

  • Pastoralists plead that gas companies and agriculture can’t coexist in the Territory. There is simply not enough water for Traditional Owners, Pastoralists and gas companies

  • Fracking poses serious contamination risks to groundwater, soil and air

  • The initial exploration of wells alone will use 2.2 billion litres of precious water, and release at least 1 million tonnes of emissions

  • Santos and Sweetpea have not undertaken stakeholder engagement prior to the development of Environmental Plans.

“In the middle of the climate emergency, the Northern Territory Labor government supported by the Federal Liberal and Labor parties want to open up Australia’s biggest ever gas field for oil and gas fracking by big corporations,” Senator Dorinda Cox said today.

“Traditional Owners have been very clear - they don’t want this fracking to go ahead. They don’t want their lands and waters to be poisoned. They don’t want this climate bomb. There is no free, prior and informed consent - and this should be a necessity given the enormous scale of this potential climate disaster.”

Senator Thorpe added that, “Successive governments have undermined First Nations land rights and heritage protections to favour big corporations, who often make big donations to the Liberal and Labor parties. We need to balance the scales.”

Scott Morrison is doling out $50 million of public money to big gas companies to frack the Territory, including long-term Liberal allies like Empire Energy and just announced another $50 million more today to prepare studies for where the pipelines will go

The handful of companies and their owners involved in this proposed project have collectively donated $3.7 million to the two major parties over the decade.

Committee hearings remain ongoing. On Friday, the Senate Committee is expected to hear testimony from gas companies Origin Energy, Tamboran, Santos Limited as well as three federal Government Departments. 


Statement ends


Media enquiries: 

Lisa Wills (Cox) 0447 469 218

Amanda Barbour (Thorpe) 0439 474 156

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