Dear Dr Hawke,
I am submitting to you my serious concerns about hydraulic fracturing in
the Northern Territory. This technique (different to that already used
near alice springs by Santos) has an extensive history and high risk
of failures and accidents associated across the world. It undoubtably
threatens the health of our rivers and aquifers, and thereby our land,
our cattle stations, our tourism industry, and our population's health.
I strongly believe that the risk of fracking is too high and the
potential for serious long-term impacts too great to be compensate for
the short-term financial benefit to the Northern Territory. My
submission is a resounding NO to any exploration for the purposes of
finding shale gas, and NO to ANY and ALL hydraulic fracturing
techniques anywhere in the Northern Territory.
It is of great concern to me that mining companies use such
massive volumes of water, and do not have to answer to the Water Act,
meaning mining companies do not need to seek a licence to extract water
Industrialization and fragmentation of our pristine
bushlands, which are our biggest asset in terms of both biodiversity
and providing for the livelihoods of many Territorians is a high
risk. There could be devastating impacts upon sacred sites. These
risks are ones that as a Territorian I will not stand by and let happen
if mining companies remain free to explore as they currently are
doing, and then obtain licences for extraction. I
will peacefully resist their occupation of the NT along with many many
other concerned citizens and tax payers that may not be writing
submissions to this inquiry.
I have VERY VALID reasons for being horrified knowing that
the NT Gov is considering licensing for hydraulic fracturing regardless
of a massive risk of gases seeping out into our aquifers, waterways
and bores. Here in Central Australia we rely on bore water and
aquifers, if these get contaminated, as is common place where hydraulic
fracturing occurs, the whole of central Australia will become
I have very limited faith in mining companies to protect
the health of the surrounding environment and communities. It is not in
their interest at all. All too often EIS's are superficial and faulty;
how is it in a mining company's interest to, once they've found what
they're looking for, do and EIS and find that they should not extract
I find very good grounds for a complete long-term moratorium
on hydraulic fracturing explorations and extraction in the face of a
severe lack of information about its potential cumulative environmental,
social, health and cultural impacts.
The impact it could have on our fishing and tourism
industries would be devastating, as is occurring regularly where this
technique has been employed for a number of years.
I ask the Inquiry to respond to the following questions:
- The EPA has stated that there are too many wells to
assess individually and that the NT Government does not have the
resources to ensure compliance. Will companies be required to undertake
environmental impact assessment of each well?
- How can the community have confidence in the government
to be able to make informed decisions based on the science and not just
the hard sell from mining companies?
- Have any independent studies been undertaken to properly assess the impacts of fracking in a tropical monsoonal environment?
- How will the potential health, social and cultural impacts of fracking be assessed?
- Who pays for environment clean up if fracking allows gas
to leak into the groundwater and more methane to be released into to
our atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions?
- Do mining companies have the right to come on to any
pastoral lease, private freehold or native title land and frack for gas
without free, prior and informed consent by the landholder?
- Where landholders do have a right to veto, or to compensation, how is their decision process informed?
- What will happen to the millions of litres of contaminated waste water?
- Who benefits financially from fracking?
- How will mining companies be subsidized or incentivized to frack using taxpayer dollars?
- How can people living in remote communities contribute to this Inquiry?
- How will commercial interests be represented in this Inquiry?
- Will any forums be held to discuss issues raised by the Inquiry?
- Will the Inquiry acknowledge that both mining companies
and governments have a vested interest in allowing fracking to go ahead
despite the risks it presents, and the bias that this presents?
- How will the results of this Inquiry be reported and enacted?
- Who will ensure mining companies comply with any guidelines formed as a result of this Inquiry?
- If I have concerns about fracking activities taking place on my property, who can I contact?
I call on you to make recommendations for:
- Ensuring that any fracking development takes place
according to the Precautionary Principle for Ecologically Sustainable
Development and that this is incorporated into the relevant
- Funding an independent scientific study which properly
assesses all impacts (environmental, health, social and cultural)
caused by fracking both interstate and overseas to assess the risk to
- Independent assessment of the climate impact of fracking, including fugitive emissions.
- A moratorium on all fracking until all of these risks have been properly assessed by independent scientists.
- Assessing and establishing permanent ‘no go’ zones for
sensitive areas as reserved blocks under the Petroleum Act (eg.
Drinking water catchments, cultural or environmentally significant
areas such as sacred sites or protected areas, groundwater recharging
zones, food croplands)
- Ensuring the onus of proof to demonstrate that fracking
is safe for the Territory’s environment and communities is borne by the
mining companies rather than landowners, including the collection of
baseline data prior to any impact.
- An open, transparent process for information to be provided and distributed throughout communities.
- Mining companies must obtain free, prior and informed consent from all landholders as per best practice management.
- Mining companies undertaking fracking must be required
by law to respond to the criteria for environmental impact assessment
as per any other significant development.
- Water use by mining companies must come under the Water
Act so that companies taking water for fracking are required to apply
for a water extraction licence.
- Proper resourcing of monitoring and compliance bodies such as the EPA and Department of Mines and Energy.
- Provisions to ensure that the mining company bears the
financial and moral responsibility for any negative impacts caused by
- It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to me that the NT Government
ends ALL use of taxpayer dollars as subsidies and incentives to mining
companies for the purpose of exploration, extraction and rehabilitation
in the NT. No subsidies for these huge companies!