No oil, gas exploration in King's Canyon national park


p2111-Dave-Tollnerp2145-Bess-PriceBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Oil and gas exploration permit applications for Watarrka National Park and the Coomalie Council Region will not be granted, David Tollner, Minister for Mines and Energy, and Bess Price, Minister for Parks and Wildlife (both pictured) announced at 4:44pm today.
Earlier today the Central Land Council (CLC) made an emergency application to Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt for protection of the national park from oil and gas exploration and mining.
“It is unfortunate that the CLC chose to be vocal about the actions of the NT Government before allowing proper processes to be undertaken to ensure all parties affected in this decision could be consulted,” Mr Tollner said.
He said the new oil and gas guidelines announced last week have been applied in the assessment of oil and gas exploration permit applications for Palatine Energy in relation to the Watarrka National Park and NT Gas in relation to the Coomalie Council Region.
“Government recently implemented these new measures, on top of its already robust regulations, to ensure onshore oil and gas activities can proceed alongside other land usages in a safe and sustainable manner,” Mr Tollner said.
“Both applications were assessed as not satisfying all of the recently announced criteria.”
A media release says as announced last week, the NT Government will not grant acreage release and exploration permits where there is a land use conflict, including areas of high ecological value and areas of cultural significance as advised by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority.


  1. It is unfortunate that the CLC chose to be vocal about the actions of the NT Government before allowing proper processes to be undertaken to ensure all parties affected in this decision could be consulted,” Mr Tollner said.
    The people talk and the Government do not consult or listen to the people.
    Look at the Hawke report, what a joke, if it wasn’t so serious.
    I would think with the new information about Dr Hawke’s association with the oil and gas companies.
    His report should be used as toilet paper as there must be a conflict of interest?
    Who paid Dr Hawke for his so called experts report, the taxpayers, that’s who!
    And once again the taxpayers paid to be lied too.
    And I’ll write it again, just in case Mr Tollner couldn’t read it the first time: Government doesn’t listen to its people.
    Stupid Frackers.

  2. Well played CLC. There was never going to be fracking in Watarrka without all hell breaking loose!
    The CLP’s consistent inability to just rule it out months ago was all about their attempt to control their positive media opportunities and spin cycle; to roll out out a feel-good story when it was needed at a later date.
    What a shameful waste of everyone’s time. I’m glad the CLC has stepped in, called their bluff – and put the focus right back onto the real issue: Why would any self respecting governing body or people allow their land, country and water resources to be fracked?

  3. Marli, are you implying no mining? Even in the stone age we had mining.
    I visited an Aboriginal axe quarry on the flanks of Mt Camel recently, just north of Heathcote in Victoria.
    And there are ochre pits out towards Mt Sonder. All land (and sea and seabed) has ecological value, but it also has economic value in terms of resources and potential for satisfaction of our wants.
    Mining, grazing and farming are important to us, we need to strike a balance … which is what this decision seeks to do. Can’t be all one way though.

  4. Yesterday Adam Giles suggested it was all go.Today they reckon going to feds was half cocked.
    A quick google search shows this proposal has been around for a few years. Yet they knock it back the day after it hits the media.
    Funny timing.

  5. Miraculous timing of the announcement aside, the minister is barking up the wrong tree.
    It wasn’t the CLC’s emergency application that saved Watarrka from oil and gas exploration in the end but the Environmental Defenders Office, hired by the traditional owners, whose long and united three year campaign had fallen on deaf ears in Darwin. Well done all, the nation owes you a debt of gratitude!

  6. Ian, Marli may or may not have implied that she is against all mining.
    Your invoking of ancient stone quarries and ochre pits is a bit disingenuous. Fracking per se has been around a long time. The Mereenie oilfield, with its tight (non porous) reservoir has had its “fracture porosity” production stimulated by fracking work-overs for decades.
    What is different is what is called “non conventional” gas, gas fields consisting of hundreds of wells over agricultural land potentially leaking noxious fumes and contaminating underground water resources (as has happened in other parts of the world).
    There is just no comparison to stone quarries and ochre pits. The mining and oil industries have a history of assuring the public that all measures are taken to prevent ecological disasters and what they’re doing is perfectly safe.
    You tell that to the people of Ok Tedi, or living on the edges of the Gulf of Mexico, or Rum Jungle half a century ago.
    And that’s not even thinking about who actually benefits from these massive projects.
    I don’t think the people of Alice Springs are missing out on all that much when it comes to the pipeline. Certainly local suppliers will be by-passed as they were when the Alice Springs to Darwin railroad was built.
    I recall they were advertising for 10 indigenous bulldozer operators with tickets. There was nowhere in the NT you could obtain such a ticket at the time.
    The so called “trickle down effect” is a myth at best. More like a con.
    As for the CLC’s tactical move. Good on them!
    If only they had put in a bid on the TIO, or applied for a 99 year lease on the Port of Darwin!

  7. @ Jungarrayi. You have missed my point entirely, and have gone on to express your view of fracking as a mining technique. I was talking about land having both ecological and economic value, it could also be said to have cultural value.
    All need to be taken into account when making land use decisions.
    The implication is at times one value or the other will override the others. Mining and clearing land for agriculture have to be given due weight, even in this new world of electric cars / mobile phones / solar and wind power / gluten free fruitcakes and anonymous postings on social media.

  8. @ Ian: Apologies. I missed your (valid) point deliberately, so as to make my own (also valid) point.
    I don’t question the value of agriculture and mining activities and agree that a balance should be sought.
    Unfortunately the current situation where the quest for profits (and bugger the consequences) reigns supreme does not present the balance you speak of.


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