Artists want Darwin Fest to reject Santos sponsorship


Sir – We have today released an open letter to the Darwin Festival outlining significant concerns over its controversial sponsorship by gas company Santos and calling for the festival to phase out fossil fuel sponsorship for future festivals.
While Santos has in previous years sponsored Darwin Festival’s Opening Night event, we are concerned that this year Santos’s sponsorship of the festival grants its activities a social licence the company doesn’t deserve as it embarks on a new and contested fracking program across its shale gas tenements which put at risk tens of thousands of square kilometres of the Territory.
In 2015 Santos has plans to frack the Amadeus Basin south of Alice Springs, putting at risk the town’s only water supply, and on pastoral stations and Aboriginal-owned land as close as 75km to Uluru.
Fracking for shale gas is a risky and untested form of mining slated for some of our most environmentally and culturally sensitive regions across the NT.
Santos has a disastrous environmental track record at its other fracking operations around Australia including over 20 toxic waste water spills and major leaks from evaporation ponds and infrastructure including pipelines, waste-water treatment facilities and well sites at its Pilliga Forest operation in NSW.
Many other festivals and prominent arts institutions such as Woodford Folk Festival and Bangarra Dance Theatre Company have chosen to break their sponsorship contracts with Santos in light of its reckless mining activities.
We are calling on the Darwin Festival to drop its promotion of Santos in reflection of the growing community concerns over fracking and its proven public health and environmental impacts.
Lauren Mellor, NT Frack Free Alliance
Alex Kelly, NT filmmaker
Dayne Pratzsky, Star of Frackman the Movie
The Alice Springs News Online has offered Santos the right of reply.


  1. It is a bit light-on for an explanation of how the drinking water supply of Alice is at risk. The Amadeus Basin is huge – to suggest that any activity in the basin puts our drinking water at risk seem like a big call.
    Also, how are sacred sites being put at risk?

  2. @ Question: I think it is the best in your case, to inform yourself on what is fracking, the pros and cons (when sites are subjected to fracking, a waste of salt water, sand and chemicals is injected back into the earth once fractures are created; in some cases as many as 10 million litres of the waste can be put into the earth in each well).
    Inform yourself of what is happening overseas and close to home with the contamination of an aquifer near a CSG project in the Pilliga Forest, and the fact that benzene, toluene, ethylene and xylene – together known as BTEX – had been found in wells at a gas site east of Mackay, Queensland.
    These compounds are some of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in petroleum derivatives such as petrol (gasoline). Toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes have harmful effects on the central nervous system.
    BTEX compounds are notorious due to the contamination of soil and groundwater with these compounds.
    Contamination typically occurs near petroleum and natural gas production sites, petrol stations, and other areas with underground storage tanks (USTs) or above-ground storage tanks (ASTs), containing gasoline or other petroleum-related products.
    You should also may like to ponder on the earthquakes who are know affecting south east Queensland.
    Then you can ask yours questions, Question, and tell us why you think that the anti-fracking activists are wrong.

  3. It’s not that I think they are wrong … it is that they are propositions that are likely to cause considerable distress and have not been substantiated at all. I’m happy to be persuaded.
    On the subject of earthquakes of Fraser Island … if you are genuinely suggesting they are caused by fracking, you really can’t be taken seriously.

  4. @ Question: I am not stating a fact about the earthquake, merely pondering, as I believe (having work in seismic operations) that all those drilling, mining, blasting artificial wells etc … send shock waves to long distances.
    Scientific study showed that fracking is causing slippage or movement in previously unknown fault lines near the wells.
    “Scientists are finding that part of the problem is the large number of injection wells which get much more waste and at higher pressures than other gas or oil wells.
    “It is the waste water wells that are causing the seismic readings more than the fracking wells that capture the gas.
    “The volume of the injected materials results in the fault cracks to widen which, in turn, raises the risk for slippage and for earthquakes.
    “The mixture, once it is underground, can travel for miles, which can alter the fault line pressure and sometimes trigger the slippage and earthquakes.”


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