Traditional owners protesting Origin fracking in NT
TRADITIONAL owners from remote Territory communities covered within Origin Energy's fracking permit have said the organisation has failed to adequately consult landholders and excluded others from consultations entirely.
It follows the recent release of a report by the Jumbunna Institute of Indigenous Education and Research within the University of Technology Sydney that found most exploration permits issued in the Northern Territory for fracking were issued in the absence of free and prior informed consent.
Four community members, including native title holders from Elliott and Minyerri, are heading to Sydney to attend the organisation's AGM tomorrow Wednesday October 17.
They have said they will present company executives with letters signed by around 200 complainants from across the communities and outstations covered by Origin's permit area.
Stuart Nuggett has travelled from Elliott to attend the AGM and said that his community had not been given enough information about Origin's plans.
"We are worried about the risks fracking brings. I want the company to listen to our concerns and act on them before fracking starts next year," he said.
Alawa grandmother May August is a native title holder for land under Origin exploration permits. She said they did not want fracking to start in the area.
"Our homelands are full of bush medicine plants which we harvest for our traditional medicine business, and we run cattle through a community enterprise. Our livelihood relies on lots of good country and clean fresh water, but all that is at risk," she said.
The Jumbunna report states that over 85% of the Northern Territory is the subject of exploration applications made under the Petroleum Act (NT), with exploration permits already granted for over 25%.
It said the absence of free and prior informed consent was due to a number of factors, including Northern Territory legislation that is counterintuitive to the concept.
"For example, in the case of lands subject to the Native Title Act 1993, this is due to the absence of a right of veto and the time frames under which negotiations must occur, which lead to a significant power imbalance between companies and Aboriginal Traditional Owners," it reads.
"The authors also note a failure to use trained interpreters in consultations and an absence of materials translated into local languages.
"Both the Central Land Council and Northern Land Council stated that they are not mandated, or resourced, to fund the development and delivery of information programs on hydraulic fracturing. Many submissions to the inquiry supported those costs being borne by resource companies."
A resolution from the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) backs these claims and a spokeswoman confirmed the organisation had lodged a shareholder resolution with Origin Energy to conduct a review on the adequacy of its consultation process for gas fracking permits in the NT.
Executive director Brynn O'Brien said the Jumbunna report demonstrated exactly why this
resolution was necessary.
"Investors in companies planning to frack the NT cannot ignore the obvious deficiencies with the way consent is obtained on the ground, or the immense power imbalances between corporations and Aboriginal traditional owners," he said.
"The potential for irreparable harm to communities' culture, livelihoods, and land and water systems should weigh heavy on the shoulders of investors."