Rinehart and shale gas companies licensed to frack Indigenous and Pastoral Land

Many elders from the Mataranka region hand-crafted maps depicting cultural features (left) and documented bush food and medicines (insert top). The Mataranka region includes 'country' that has been approved to be fracked recently by the Northern Territory government. The bottom insert is two of the elders involved in the documentation and mapping, Elders Sheila Conway (left) and Jocelyn James.

(Images ABC Rural)

Media Release: Don't Frack the Territory, 23 March 2015

The Frack-Free Alliance NT has today condemned comments by the Northern Territory Government that the first petroleum exploration licences established on Aboriginal land managed by the NLC represents a win-win for the resource industry and Indigenous community development.

"The NT government has just granted permission to frack significant parcels of Aboriginal community and prime pastoral land, including the iconic Bitter Springs region and surrounding Elsey Station, to a subsidiary of billionaire resources giant Gina Rinehart, Jacaranda Minerals" said Charmaine Roth of Don't Frack Katherine community group.

The deal comes at a time when the NT government's recent Hawke Inquiry into the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' confirmed that effective laws and regulations governing the shale gas industry were not yet in place, although it continues the granting of exploration licenses.

Some people could retire from the money she makes going to the toilet.

"The government's declared 'go-slow' approach to the unregulated and risky shale gas industry looks more like 'full steam ahead' when it comes to dirty deals with powerful friends like Rinehart and multinational gas companies. The only ones who will see any real benefit from the granting of these licenses are some of the richest resource companies operating in Australia, not the communities and pastoral stations set to get fracked."

"The NT Government handed out $8 million in public subsidies to shale gas companies last financial year. If they were serious about improving the lives of people living in remote communities that kind of money would make a significant long-term investment in desperately needed basic services like roads, housing and employment opportunities" concluded Ms Roth.

"The NT Government is boasting about trading the long-term viability of communities, pastoral stations and the environment for some very short-term profits from an industry already suffering a major economic downturn in the eastern states, and a lifetime of fracking legacy costs including leaky well failures, water and air contamination, and industrialisation of productive pastoral land," said Lauren Mellor of the Frack-Free Alliance NT.

"NT Petroleum Law is the weakest in Australia, and landholders have few rights to stop access to unwanted invasive exploration and mining on their land. The regulators NT EPA and NT DME are unprepared and under-resourced to manage the risk posed by the thousands of wells planned by shale gas companies in the NT."

"If fracking goes ahead it will be communities, landholders and the public who will be left with the long-term economic and environmental costs, not the gas companies or even the current NT Government who will be long gone" concluded Ms Mellor.

Traditional Owners and pastoralists from communities across the NT targeted by fracking companies will come together in Katherine on Tuesday March 24 for the launch of the first Frack-Free NT Roadshow, an educational outreach program led by environmental, public health and legal experts to discuss the risks of fracking.

The roadshow will visit Jilkminggan, 25km south of Mataranka and covered by Exploration License 154, on Wednesday 25th March and invite media to hear from local residents objecting to granting of licences for fracking.

For comment or more detail contact:
Lauren Mellor, Frack-Free Alliance, NT 0413 534 125 or Charmaine Roth, Don't Frack Katherine 0488 195 415


David Tollner, NT Minister for Mines and Energy with Adam Giles, NT Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

NT Government Media Release

Adam Giles
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

David Tollner
Minister for Mines and Energy

Landmark agreements to create Indigenous jobs
21 March 2015

The Territory Government is creating more jobs and opportunities in remote communities with the granting of the first petroleum exploration permits on Aboriginal land managed by the Northern Land Council.

"My Government is committed to creating jobs in our regions and breaking the cycle of welfare dependency that has been crippling our communities," Chief Minister Adam Giles said.

"The resources industry is one key to that process and the granting of these permits is an important step in creating private sector employment opportunities.

"It's great to see the Land Councils and Traditional owners working in partnership in this effort."

Minister for Mines and Energy David Tollner said resources companies had worked with the council to secure its historic agreement for two exploration permits in the McArthur Basin.

"Many Indigenous communities are already benefiting from mining on their land and now the oil and gas industry is set to further strengthen local economies," Minister Tollner said.

"This demonstrates that traditional owners and the resources industry can both win when they work together."

Exploration Permit 187 has been granted to Imperial Oil and Gas and Exploration Permit 154 has been jointly granted to Minerals Australia and Jacaranda Minerals.

Imperial Oil and Gas is already working with the Department of Business in Katherine to develop a geoscience training program for Indigenous workers in remote communities.

Executive chairman of Imperial Oil and Gas Bruce McLeod said the company was proud to be involved in the 'landmark' agreement.

"The grant of EP187 demonstrates the initiative of the local indigenous owners to realise value and opportunity within their traditional land assets," Mr McLeod said.

"This initiative will create opportunities for employment and community development with a number of significant flow-on benefits for the greater region."

In total, the companies plan to invest $28m in geophysical studies and test drilling to assess the viability of commercial oil and gas extraction.

A number of areas, mainly around waterways, have been excluded from exploration.

Around $365 million is being invested in petroleum exploration in the Territory – creating new jobs and pumping cash into local economies.

The growth of the industry has the potential to create thousands more skilled jobs for Territorians, improve regional infrastructure and generate extra revenue for schools, hospitals and other essential services.

Media Contact:

For Chief Minister Giles – Danielle Parry, 0413 081 801

For Minister Tollner – Stuart Sherwin, 0438 103 005