Police move in on protester: Native title cannot stop fracking

John Howard recognised continuing First Nations sovereignty in his Ten Point Plan for limiting Native Title he introduced after the Wik decision, promising 'bucket loads of extinguishment' and that's what we've got. Companies can destroy country and even though First Nations people are sovereign, they can't do anything about it, other than protesting.

Micklo Corpus holding the move on notice
Image: Micklo Corpus holds the move-on notice given to him by police for blocking the road to Buru Energy's Yulleroo gas field. (ABC Kimberley: Ben Collins)

ABC Kimberley By Ben Collins 27 October 2015

An Aboriginal traditional owner from Broome has been moved on by police for blocking Buru Energy vehicles from accessing a gas fracking site.

Micklo Corpus is a Yawuru traditional owner of country in and around Broome, and has been camping at the entrance to Buru Energy's Yulleroo gas field for a year and three months.

Buru Energy is planning to frack two wells at the site 70 kilometres east of Broome to test the potential of the process to produce commercial quantities of gas.

But when a convoy of Buru's vehicles approached the site about 7:00am, Mr Corpus moved onto the road to block their path.

"My intention here is to protect my country, and that's what I'm all about," Mr Corpus said.

"For the 90 minutes I was present at the gate. All I wanted was those people to give me 10 minutes of their time to explain what works are going to be done, and how long they're going to be on my country for."

With the road blocked, Mr Corpus said the discussion had became heated.

"The Buru people were hostile and agitated really, and all I wanted was 10 minutes of their time, and they wouldn't offer that," he said.

Mr Corpus said the Buru workers called the police, who cleared the road by issuing a move-on notice.

"In the past they moved me 50 kilometres away from this area, but today they were a little bit lenient. I can stay in my camp and I'm not supposed to go on the road," Mr Corpus said.

Two police officers giving Micklo Corpus a move on notice.
Image: Police officers give Yawuru traditional owner Micklo Corpus a move-on notice for blocking Buru
Energy's vehicles from accessing the Yulleroo gas field. (Supplied: Damian Kelly)

Native title rights cannot stop fracking

 
Mr Corpus is angry that even though the Yawuru people have been granted native title over the area, it does not give the legal right to stop fracking.

"That's wrong. They need the consent of the traditional people," he said.

"The Yawuru people, last year, 96 per cent of the people voted against the fracking program."

Buru Energy's Yulleroo 2 wellhead behind a barbed wire fence
PHOTO: Buru Energy's Yulleroo 2 wellhead, 60km east of Broome, was fracked in 2010. (ABC Kimberley: Ben Collins)
Mr Corpus was supported in his action by fewer than 10 people at the entrance to the gas field.

But he hopes the controversial nature of the fracking process may inspire greater numbers to join him in the future.

"There may be a day where they want to come in and frack, and hopefully I can rally that support [against it]," Mr Corpus said.

In the meantime, Mr Corpus is promising to continue his opposition to fracking.

"I'll let everybody know that I'm going to obstruct, or I'm going to stand in front of this truck because we did say no."

Broome Police officer-in-charge Brendon Barwick said Buru had the right to go about lawful business.

"Police will respond to any breaches of the peace," he said.

Buru Energy was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publishing.

Topics: activism-and-lobbying, land-rights, oil-and-gas, broome-6725, roebuck-6725