Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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HomeIssue 1LETTER: Why do some cockies like fracking?

LETTER: Why do some cockies like fracking?

p2217-fracking-10Sir – With the known possibility for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to contaminate aquifers, many Territorians are wondering why a small number of pastoralists are supporting the process.
Rohan Sullivan of Mataranka and John Armstrong of Gilnocky Station for instance have been extremely vocal on the issue, to the point of strongly criticising fellow pastoralists who are opposed to the fracking process.
Rohan and John are staunchly conservative voters so it might of course be a simple matter of blind allegiance to the Country Liberal Party, a party that has a pro-fracking policy and is ignoring the concerns of most Territorians, that is making them so vocal on the matter.
Under the Australian Constitution, non Indigenous land owners don’t own mineral wealth that lays below the surface. Royalty payments for mining operations on the land must automatically go to the government.
Why then are a few pastoralists ignoring the potential hazards and supporting the gas mining companies? Are there any other benefits for a few land owners that the public is not being told about?
It is common knowledge that pastoralists may receive benefits in the form of roadworks and a few dams etcetera on their land but are there any other pecuniary benefits that would allow land owners to jeopardise their properties?
Regardless of whether we have freehold, leasehold or native title to the land we are occupying, we are really only short term caretakers of the land. We have an obligation to pass the land on to future generations in as pristine a condition as possible. If we don’t do this then we are being very poor caretakers.
Indigenous Territorians have reputably been living on the land for 40,000 years. If fracking operations go wrong, they may not be able to live on it for much longer.
This won’t bother the current crop of politicians who are supporting the onshore gas mining industry of course. By the time the adverse effects of fracking are being manifested, they will be long retired on their fat parliamentary pensions and living in other parts of the country that haven’t been fracked.
Bruce Francais


  1. Great letter, Bruce.
    Having been made increasingly aware over the past 18 months of Rohan’s and John’s very conservative political views via a participatory social media network, I can attest to their solid support of the spurious hydraulic fracturing industry.
    What John, Rohan and other conservatives refuse to accept is that the industry is totally unnecessary in the face of renewable energy options. That we no longer need to destroy our environment through what can fast become obsolete mining practices appears to allude them.
    We can, in fact, promote and protect it by abandoning conventional fossil-fuel technology and replacing it with 21st century renewable energy technology.
    We don’t need to squeeze the very last drops of product from the sponge of our environment when we have a whole new world of opportunities to explore with safer, sustainable renewables like solar, wind, wave and geothermal practices.
    Those are in abundance if we only learn to embrace them. The environment is then a safer haven to be embraced, enjoyed and explored by our younger and future generations for centuries into the future.

  2. As mentioned previously, the main concerns here now are earthquakes, water pollution, and disposal of water and chemicals that return to the surface during the fracking process.
    Minor quakes in Oklahoma and North Dakota have been traced back to fracking.
    Water pollution in rivers and catchment areas also caused by fracking is also major concern.
    Considering all of your water is artesian there is no way fracking can take place without the water table being disturbed in some way.
    Consider that everything that is pumped into the ground is dispersed though the various rock strata below. Over here the fracking companies state that they drill at least 5000 ft below the water table so therefore it cannot affect the water table. That is a load of crap because once that product is pumped under pressure into the ground there is no control where it will finish up.
    Waste water and chemicals returning to the surface during fracking have to be collected and disposed of.
    At the moment there is concern with the amount of waste product that is being stored and in some cases is leaching back into the ground. In some instances they are running out of storage areas.
    Then of course there is the damage that is being caused to the roads by the heavy equipment.
    Over here most of the fracking is carried out in locations that are populated and can be viewed from a distance.
    In the NT, who is going to monitor the clean-up and damage done to the area around the drill sites? In most cases it would be a case of “out of sight, out of mind”.

  3. Another relevant and considered response to debate around the issues of fracking … thanks, Jim Cleary. The more people make their objections known, backed by evidence and example, the better we’ll be able to make this an election issue.
    The CLP random campaign call came to our home last night. All the usual “who do you generally vote for” pleasantries at the beginning followed by focus questions. The final one: Would you support fracking if it was done in conjunction with renewable energy? That answer would be “NO”. No detail of what that would involve … simply trying to capture support for the CLP’s current policy position.
    Those of us who are opposed to fracking because of the dangers it poses will hopefully outnumber the need for greed cowboys at the up-coming election.
    If your vote is based on just one policy position, this one is vital for the future growth and development of the Northern Territory.

  4. @ Jim: Unfortunately, the biggest danger I see from fracking is that it will be the Northern Territory Government which will be charged with inspection of the sites to make sure nothing untoward is happening and all appropriate processes are abided by.
    That worked a treat in the Georgina, didn’t it?
    We have had yet another example in the Barkly recently of just how much we can trust NT Government in relation to any form of mining. The managnese mine at Bootu Creek last month went into mothballs “until the ore price improves” and there is no indication that is ever going to happen.
    Workers were laid off without payment of entitlements with a vague promise that they will be paid when the ore stockpile is sold (which apparently won’t happen until the price improves, see previous comment). Even then, anecdotal evidence from people who understand such things say that even at old prices, the stockpile won’t cover a fraction of the money the company owes anybody, including the workers.
    Worse is that once again, there is no attempt at rehabilitation of the site. Another toxic, ugly scar on our precious environment that will probably never be cleaned up.
    The problem with fracking is that the damage may be done underground, so we can’t see it.
    Assurances from NT Government simply don’t wash. Put your political allegiances aside and answer honestly – does anybody truly believe a word that comes out of the spin factory any more, no matter which mob are in power?
    I don’t care what happens in North America, Queensland or anywhere else. The Barkly is my country and I believe I have a right to have a say on what happens here. If Adam and his rent boy Ron have to lie about it to try to sell it, I am certain I don’t want fracking anywhere near my country.

  5. Barkley Magpie: I understand your frustration with the Fracking subject. However, I do suggest you take an interest in what has happened in North America regarding the subject.
    We all know that the Fracking companies involved over here, will be some of the same companies attempting to push the Fracking issue along.
    You must also know that these companies will attempt to use similar if not the same Fracking methods used here. You will also be aware that Haliburton are possibly one of the companies trying to Frack in the NT.
    With that in mind I suggest you read the following article which will show just what lengths will be taken to get what these companies want.
    I only hope that those in power will have the guts to take a very hard look at past records of companies before they will allow the spoiling of what is a very fragile ecosystem throughout the wonderful NT.


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