Milk and honey or fracking battle field?


p2424 petroleum grantedp2424 petroleum applied
p2424 pastoral
This is where oil and gas will turn into milk and honey, and make us rich beyond our wildest dreams – or it’s the fracking battlefield of the future, depending on whom you talk with.
The map above left shows where petroleum exploration permits have already been issued.
The map above right shows the land under application for petroleum exploration permits.
The map at right shows pastoral leases, what’s usually called cattle stations.
Only a tiny fraction of the NT has onshore petroleum production licences in production, in the Palm Valley and Mereenie fields west of Alice Springs.
On land held under Aboriginal freehold, pursuant to the Land Rights Act traditional owners have a mining veto on land under application, but not once an exploration permit has been issued.
Holders of pastoral leases do not have a mining veto.
However, on pastoral leases where native title has been declared, or where it may be declared, native title holders may influence the operations through protection of sacred sites or management of “significant disturbance”.
It’s worth in this context to recall the statement in November last year by the CEO of the Northern Land Council (NLC), Joe Morrison, that Aborigines “own and/or have legally recognised rights over more than 90% of northern Australia.”
That clearly includes in the NT 53% held under inalienable freehold under land rights, and the remainder of Mr Morrison’s figure relates to native title.
The NLC area is – approximately – west of the Stuart Highway and north of the Victoria Highway, and east of the Stuart Highway and north of the Barkly Highway.
The Central Land Council covers the rest of the NT to the south of the NLC area.


  1. Thanks Erwin, interesting stuff.
    Now that this debate has pretty clear lines of perspective, winners and losers etc, will the Alice Springs News Online be taking an editorial position on shale gas fracking?

  2. @ Edan Baxter:
    Hi Edan, no, we will not be taking an editorial position on shale gas fracking.
    We will continue our thorough coverage of these issues, giving everyone a say who has something substantial to contribute to the debate, and to the body of knowledge.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

  3. Would Edan Baxtrer prefer only his viewpoint to be tolerated in this publication?
    Quite typical of a believer mentality, shout down anything contradictory regardless of how scientifically sound or objectively sourced.

  4. @ Harold: You obviously haven’t read the articles that I posted for your benefit in response to another post – the Compendium of Concerned Scientists report on the reported risks of fracking and the Urgent Case for a ban on fracking
    If you had indeed read the science and objectively sourced documentation related to the process of fracking – you wouldn’t be spouting your belief that the process is safe.
    You would instead concur with the body of evidence and increasing scientific knowledge that suggest that fracking is not worth the risk.
    To do otherwise is ideologically driven, in support of the fossil fuel companies, and most definitely not based in fact.

  5. @ Harold. What a lacklustre comment.
    I have asked our esteemed editor an open question about whether the Alice Springs News Online (ASNO) will be taking an editorial stance at some point or letting this debate run.
    Erwin has chosen the latter (for now?). That’s his prerogative. All good. The body of knowledge on ASNO will continue to grow.
    For your information, I am thoroughly interested in the many levels of the so-called NT fracking debate and contrary to your comment, I have no interest in shouting anyone down.
    We could look at fracking at many levels: e.g. Science / environment, research (what constititutes objectively sourced?), economic, media or geo-political perspectives, but what is the point when commenters like yourself are so quick to troll any attempt at intelligent dialogue?
    Your comment demonstrates that you:
    • are a hypocrite.
    • are too gutless to use your full name.
    • obviously you don’t get the fundamental principles of good debate (treat others how you would seek to be treated yourself).
    • prefer to sling aspersions without even engaging in a discussion first.
    So I will reserve my right to not waste my time engaging with you.
    However in the interests of ASNO reader entertainment, I offer you a chance to show everyone you are not just another full-of-cheap-gas-keyboard-nobody.
    Exactly how much community opposition will be required to determine that the development of a shale gas industry has insufficient social license to operate in the NT?
    I look forward to your answer.

  6. Let those against fracking keep in mind they all use petroleum products – medications, shampoo, all rubber products, to drive them selves and exploit the spoils of what oil gas producers put out everyday.
    Sure ban fracking but ban your self from all the things you use – Vaseline to keep that green smile while you have contempt for the oily who is out there every day finding the stuff.
    I have been in fracking since 1996 and I drilled the Dingo discovery in 1981, long before any ban frackers were born.
    I left the bush to work in the energy industry and most I read today is about pumping up the fear.
    But do yourself a favour, stay off the roads too, cause that’s using petroleum.
    These studies are by eggheads who have never been in the industry, know only what they want to know.
    Signed fifth generation bushie who has worked 35 years on west Texas USA, and finds it’s not all ruined as progress has produced good schools, health, hospitals and affordable places to live.

  7. @ Patrick: Myself personally, I barely know a single person who is skeptical, wary or indeed anti-fracking – and who doesn’t appreciate modern technologies at the same time.
    Feel free to call people names and to suggest those who don’t get behind fracking are hypocrites – but actually it says more about you than anyone else.
    The sensible centre are able to look past the simplistic name-calling and rhetoric you spout – and know that the world is transitioning away from gas and oil as energy sources. The sensible centre is rightly questioning whose interests are being served by this amazing “milk and honey” industry.
    Sure, oil and gas has dominated world affairs for centuries, and yes, these resources are going to be important for a while yet – but does that mean the NT should drop its pants and become a client-state for petroleum / gas industry?
    Why should we rush to tie our economic and cultural future with this risk-ridden industry at this critical juncture in our history?
    This idea that gas is going to solve all our budget woes is simplistic, mostly manufactured and mostly wrong. Why should we Territorians believe, now that we’ve witnessed the winners / losers of other major gas projects across Australia that we can expect better outcomes for the NT?
    Let’s be honest; opening up the NT to open-slather fracking is NOT going to fix the Territory’s real issues! It will probably only make facing up to our REAL problems harder!
    The big challenge for the NT right now is how to navigate a hostile Federal government and to emerge with some sense of sovereignty.
    Does anybody really believe it is appropriate / accurate to tie “good schools, health, hospitals and affordable places to live” to fracking!? Is this truly the state of Territory political discourse in 2017?
    As I stated on an alternative thread, enough of the going around in circles rubbish debate, time for us to develop a clear picture of the choices we DO have.
    Signed 6th Generation Australian bushie. (@ Patrick: Sorry mate, perhaps you didn’t spend enough nights out under the stars of this great southern land to get it?)

  8. I noticed the front page cartoon illustration of a fracking site, that accompanies this story, and couldn’t be more misleading!
    It makes the horizontal drilling and fracturing operation appear to be very close to a water aquifer.
    This is nothing like reality, whereby the gas and oil bearing rock is separated from the aquifer by a kilometre or more of solid rock.
    The scale of the drilling rig and pipe makes it very obvious this cartoon is an attempt at scaremongering and misleading the uninformed public.
    As for the content of the news story, no problem, it is a good point to raise concerning the potential for land owners power to oppose the oil, gas, and mining expansion in the NT!


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