Traditional owners from the Lake Eyre Basin have labelled a State Government proposal that will allow fracking on the Channel Country floodplains and rivers as ‘deeply disappointing’ and the Government’s consultation process as ‘grossly inadequate’.
The alliance of 13 Traditional Owner groups from the Lake Eyre Basin, whose country collectively covers one sixth of the Australian continent, has written to the Queensland Government questioning the legitimacy of plans the Government claims are designed to protect the environmental and cultural values of the Basin- but will actually open the region up to gas fracking on the rivers and floodplains.
The Queensland Government announced its long-delayed consultation on additional protections for the Diamantina, Cooper Creek and Georgina rivers in Western Queensland on Friday afternoon of the week before Christmas.
In a media statement, Minister for the Environment Leanne Enoch said the government was “committed to ensuring that First Nations peoples have input”.
“We’ve already spent many months asking for the Government to recognise the cultural and environmental significance of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers and floodplains by increasing legislative protections under their Pristine Rivers policy” said George Gorringe, a member of the Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owners Alliance.
“The Government has responded by releasing a ‘proposed framework’ for protection that continues to allow unconventional gas fracking.
“While we welcome the Queensland Government finally responding to this important issue, we are deeply disappointed that what they are proposing will allow our river and floodplain country to be fracked for gas.”
Shane Kemp, CEO of the Dieri Aboriginal Corporation and member of the Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owners Alliance, agreed.
“The Government’s consultation with us just before Christmas was not genuine, it was grossly inadequate in that it provides a very short time frame of one month to respond to their proposal and they haven’t honoured our clear wishes to protect the rivers and floodplains from fracking,” Mr Kemp said.
“We do not feel we are being listened to, let alone consulted with.”
Representatives from 13 Traditional Owner groups across the Lake Eyre Basin met twice last year to form the Alliance to work together to protect the cultural, environmental and economic values of the regions water and country.
Two statements – both of which were provided to the Queensland Government – outlined the Traditional Owner’s vision for the region and included a desire to prohibit fracking activities from sensitive rivers and floodplains.
“The statements could not be more clear in representing our wishes that the region be protected from fracking” said Mark Wallace, a Boonthamurra Traditional Owner and member of the Alliance.
“These rivers have incredible significance for all of us- they need to remain free flowing and fracking is not acceptable on our floodplain country.”
Gina Baker Ph: 0432 399 128
for the Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owners Alliance.