Don't frack Willemsland


Willem Westra van Holthe has expressed disappointment at not being asked to sign a petition calling for Katherine’s Gorge Road area to be exempted from fracking.
There was no petition, merely a survey of people living on Gorge Rd. Willem owns land along the road but wasn’t asked to sign because he doesn’t live there. The people living on his block participated in the survey.
It is not unusual that Willem wasn’t asked when considering his past unwavering support for the petro-gas mining industry and the Country Liberal Party’s endeavours to have most of the NT fracked, regardless of the concerns of most Territorians.
p2324-Katherine-Times-'fracThe Don’t Frack Katherine group has been active in Katherine now for over two years and Willem has treated it like a pariah. It beggars belief that the Member for Katherine has now had an amazing turnaround. He is denouncing fracking in parts of the NT and expressing surprise at not being given an opportunity to oppose the hydraulic fracturing process.
The Lock the Gate organisation held an extremely successful two day event in Katherine in mid April. Local residents together with numerous visitors from Darwin, Alice Springs and elsewhere in the NT were able to listen to guest speakers from the Eastern States and overseas as they related their personal unfortunate experiences living in regions that are being fracked.
We study history so as hopefully not to repeat the mistakes of our predecessors. We are fortunate in the NT to have an opportunity be able to learn from people in other parts of the world where petro-gas mining companies have already introduced the hydraulic fracturing process.
The Member for Katherine was asked by his constituents to attend the ‘Our land is our life’ function and invited to speak at it. He was certainly in town at the time but he failed to attend.
Willem appears to be beginning to realise that shale gas mining may cause environmental contamination. He is now opposed to fracking on his own land on the Gorge Road.
According to the NT News, Willem stated, quote,”sensitive areas of the environment such as Katherine won’t be mined for oil and gas and if they are, the mining companies will have to get through me first in order to do it”.
These are strong words from an MLA who has lost his authorative powers after breaching the ministerial code of conduct. He certainly did nothing to hinder the miners when he was a Minister.
When asked publicly about petro-gas mining in other sensitive areas, for instance Mataranka, Willem was noticeably silent.
After having ignored Territorians concerns about the adverse effects of gas mining in the past and speaking derisively about activists in his electorate and elsewhere in the Territory (liars and scaremongers according to Willem), it seems that he has now had a sudden change of heart.
Quite apart from the Member for Katherine now recognising the necessity to protect his own land, it appears that with an election imminent he has finally accepted the fact that the vast majority of his constituents are fervently opposed to fracking.
Bruce Francais


  1. Great letter, Bruce. Identifying perceived hypocrisy is vital in the lead up to the August 27 election day.
    Great to also see Dean David standing as an Independent for the electorate. Credible Independents are a bonus for the people to consider.
    Keep the letters coming. You write really well.
    Phil Walcott
    Independent candidate for Braitling

  2. @ Bruce: Philosopher George Santayara famously said those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Willem seems to suddenly have realised there is no such thing as a safe seat in the Territory.
    Come August 27, Willem and his mates may have to quickly accept the fact that the vast majority of their constituents are now fervently opposed to the CLP.
    Speaking of petitions, I started one in Tennant on Saturday morning calling for a youth curfew. I knew people were upset about an incident that happened here last week (check out the Deadly Sweets Tennant Creek Facebook page and watch the video, it’s a doozy).
    A lot of people were out of town for the long weekend. I still got more than 800 signatures over the weekend despite not advertising it anywhere. That’s about the equivalent of 2000 in Katherine or 7000 in the Alice.
    People are angry and it’s not just about fracking.


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