Four weeks to comment on fracking chaos


2638 fracking map OK
Today’s invitation to comment, with a deadline of just four weeks away, about “no go” areas for fracking has been slammed by Arid Lands Environment Centre CEO Jimmy Cocking.
He says this invitation to comment from the NT Government should have come a year ago, and the time allowed for this “most important recommendation” is far too short.
What’s more, this morning’s media release from Resources Minister Paul Kirby suggests that decisions have already been made.
The Alice Springs News put this to his media minder who neither confirmed nor denied it.
The release says the government’s no-go zones “will cover 48.44 per cent of the Territory.”
And it says: “The Inquiry determined, through its research and consultation, there should be areas that are off limits to any petroleum exploration or production activities, due to these areas’ unique values and their important role in providing environmental, social, health and cultural benefits to surrounding communities.”
Says Mr Cocking: “They have made up their mind and it is up to us people who vote and who live here to push back on that. We disagree. They will need to change ‘will’ to ‘may’.
“The fact that [the minister] is stating it like this is of concern. I would suggest to people that this is not a done deal”; they should tell the government “that they don’t want their pastoral station or their land trust or their water catchment to be fracked.”
Mr Cocking, who is a member of the Town Council, says that body should also make itself heard in this debate.
He says Territorians need to have much more time to assess the possible consequence of fracking in their neighbourhood – or in the NT as a whole: “We don’t want to see fracking in the Northern Territory.”
He says one kilometre buffers around bores are of no value – frackers can now drill horizontally for seven kilometres.
According to the maps (pictured) released today, fracking is already permitted in close vicinity of the water supply for Alice Springs, or proposed to be permitted. (The red areas are no go, the hashed areas are Aboriginal land, fracking can be carried out in the white areas.)
“The tail is wagging the dog,” says Mr Cocking.
The minister says in identifying these fracking areas the Territory Government “has taken into consideration a number of existing factors such as granted exploration permits, Aboriginal Land and current land use” and it will “consult with traditional owners … to determine whether or not they would like to declare areas within Aboriginal Land as reserve blocks.”
The Land Rights Act, through which half the Territory land mass has been returned to Aboriginal people as inalienable freehold, allows them to exercise a veto right over mining.
Mr Kirby’s announcement today shows that some Aboriginal land has been declared a no go area, some has not.
This appears to give Aboriginal owners the right to permit fracking on areas declared as “no go” by the government, or prohibit it in areas where the government allows it. And this would apply to half of the NT’s land mass.
The Aboriginal land councils receive about one-third of royalties from mining on Aboriginal land – a statutory 10% – for administrative expenses.


  1. Fracking is a terrible idea. Recently I read that there is an exploration in far North South Australia taking almost 60 mega litres of water every day out of the Cooper Basin.
    This is crazy. I then read other places around have even higher quantities. What happens with all that waste water? What happens to the people who rely on water for crops or for pasture, drinking supplies?
    Sure thing we can simply drill deeper wells, but additional pumps or upgraded pumps will be needed to keep pressure up where fracking just reduces current pressures.
    60 mega litres a day is a lot. With the potential of various mines wanting to frack for gas etc, the water supplies and quality of living will only go down slowly.
    People need to do the research, read up what has happened in America. Fracking is completely a nightmare. It’s unsustainable.
    I think politicians and even anyone who thinks fracking is good should read up more on all the negatives before deciding to make a decision for the entire community within that water basin.

  2. You are absolutely right, Recent Visitor of Alice, and I wholeheartedly second your say.
    This will poison the land and water and eventually destroy Australia.
    Fracking involves 800 different artificial chemicals injected into the ground.
    People really need to stop being greedy today and think about their children’s health and safety for tomorrow.

  3. @ Recent visitor of Alice
    You are very correct and this have been said over and over. Every time I read such comment this song come to my head:
    I talk to the trees
    But they don’t listen to me
    I talk to the stars
    But they never hear me
    The breeze hasn’t time
    To stop and hear what I say
    I talk to them all in vain
    I hope that the last bit will be coming soon:
    But suddenly my words
    Reach someone else’s ear
    At someone else’s heart strings too
    I tell you my dreams
    And while you’re listening to me
    I suddenly see them come true

  4. To understand the map above it needs to be overlaid on a geological map.
    The red “no go” areas are largely crystalline rocks, that is they have absolutely no potential for fracking.
    A simple example is the white strip between Napperby and Laramba (Ngalia Basin).
    South of Alice fracking appears to be permitted east of the Stuart Highway, that is up to the boundary of the Roe Creek Borefield (current Alice supply), and clearly including the future Rocky Hill Borefield (future Alice supply).

  5. Why is it that the government and the businesses that want to make money now and not think of the future, feel that living in the Territory is only to exploit the resources?
    If we want people to live in the Territory, then they need access to drinking water as we have been so lucky to have.
    If fracking comes in and human nature as it is, an accident happens, we then cannot stop the cracks in the basin from fracking, where the water gets stored by mother nature over the years, and so water will be leaking out and no longer [will we have] a storage basin for the water from the earth.

  6. It is unfortunate that there has not been a delving into history and current short term politics has taken over.
    In the seventies under Labor and Rex Connor there was a plan for a national gas grid linking the West and East.
    It was scoffed at the time but it made so much common sense to link the Eastern demand with the Western resource. It still does.
    There is no need for fracking at all here but the debate has been dominated by short term self interest, and now a large scale investment bank is on the track realising that the shortest way to link the two is via Brewer Estate and the existing pipe network. Hence their investment.
    This is still 400 or 500 km shorter than through Moomba – a fact well recognised by the commercial interests.
    There are already two possible sites for such a pipeline pencilled in.
    We don’t need fracking at all, and the potential for a central industrial estate based at Brewer stands out but conveniently ignored for reasons unknown.


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