Community Update #1
The independent scientific inquiry panel (Inquiry) met for its inaugural meeting on 8 December 2016.
The meeting had a strong focus on governance arrangements for the Inquiry, which is being conducted under the Northern Territory of Australia Inquiries Act.
The Inquiry will release an Issues Paper in February 2017 to help facilitate discussion for upcoming consultations and provide the community understanding of the areas of scientific inquiry that will be a focus, in line with the Terms of Reference, for the Inquiry.
Following the release of the Issues Paper persons will be able to register their interest to attend a hearing with the Inquiry and present their submission or concerns on hydraulic fracturing. Hearings are likely to commence in March in the four major population centres of Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.
The Inquiry had a constructive discussion on the importance of community engagement during the course of the Inquiry and the need to hear from Territorians outside the four major population centres referred to above.
The Inquiry also acknowledged the communications it has received from members of the public requesting that the Inquiry strongly consider visiting communities such as Mataranka, Daly Waters, Borroloola and Wadeye, among others.
The Inquiry is therefore currently considering the towns and communities outside of the four major population centres it will visit in 2017.
More than 300 persons have already signed-up to receive updates via the Inquiry’s website since the announcement of the finalised panel members and Terms of Reference for the Inquiry on 3 December 2016.
The Inquiry Chairperson, The Hon Justice Rachel Pepper, said the community interest in registering for updates and correspondence highlights the need for the Inquiry to carefully plan its community visits.
“The Inquiry panel will be conducting hearings in Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, which will also provide an opportunity for members of the community to attend and raise their concerns,” Justice Pepper said.
“The Inquiry is also currently considering which communities and towns it will visit, in order to hear from persons outside of the major centres in the Northern Territory.”
“A registration process for persons interested in attending the hearings will be available when the Issues Paper is released in February 2017, along with details of the communities and towns the Inquiry will visit.”