Letter to the editor: Natasha Fyles needs to improve integrity around water, fracking and the NT Land Corporation

by | May 28, 2022 | Opinion | 0 comments

Dear Editor,

Isn’t it a breath of fresh air to see Natasha Fyles as new Chief Minister of the NT, with a few arrogant heads of department and staff already axed from the fifth floor that were only interested in the economy and communities above the Berrimah line?Natasha has some big challenges ahead to get our economy back on track and restore some trust in the community after Michael Gunner destroyed it.

One of her biggest challenges will be to listen to the science and the community about water security, and protecting it from a self-regulated gas industry and developers who are running roughshod over government, communities, stakeholders, land holders and everyone in between.

It doesn’t help when the federal government is giving gas companies hundreds of millions of dollars for a dying industry that can’t get investors to back them, but claim they are going to lead the economic recovery with fracked gas from the Beetaloo. Stranded assets more like it.

I’d like to know where this “gas rich Beetaloo” tagline comes from because up until now there is no evidence of it being gas rich. Drill log reports have not been published as promised and gas well flow tests show well below economically viable flows. In any case, most of the exploration wells have been abandoned already, and not even worth fracking for flow tests.

Most gas companies haven’t even got land access or consent to enter these properties, and landholders will be left with legal liabilities if something goes wrong.

Then we just had Barnaby Joyce FIFO to the NT and promise $1.5 billion of taxpayer money to the gas industry to build all the infrastructure needed to export the gas, without a reservation policy to save some for ourselves or to lower our manufacturing and electricity costs.

Some due diligence from both the Liberal and National parties and Labor would be handy post election on these rorts. Seems like a corporate welfare system for major donors of the party. Total malfeasance to say the least, ICAC needs some teeth cos this stinks of corruption.

Natasha seems to have some sort of respect for our community’s environment and water security when she overturned a huge water licence allocation in the Larrimah area granted to NT Land Corporation last year.

The reason this water licence was overturned was because it was granted using the arid zone rules that means 80 per cent of that aquifer can be used for industry development. The strange part is that Larrimah is in the Top End water zone where only 20 per cent of an aquifer can be used for development, and is already fully allocated.

This was a nice, easy way of cooking the books to create more water from thin air. The water controller’s office’s free water Christmas bag is bottomless when you’ve moved the arid zone north. Water is handed out for free to frackers, but towns and communities will pay the cost when aquifers, bores, springs and rivers dry up.

Only days after that water licence was overturned because using the arid zone rule was wrong, the Water-Santa gave out more water under the arid zone rule to a gas company Sweetpea that has no land access.

The Fracking Inquiry recommendations made very clear that gas companies were not allowed to use the arid zone rule for fracking.

The water controller seems to be making a habit of breaking the law, and continues to hand out free water without the baseline and water research being completed as recommended by the Fracking Inquiry as well.

Her staff actually sacked Charles Darwin University from doing water research when the first report didn’t align with their agenda.

Still 90 per cent of the NT has no water plan, or drinking water standards legislation, including in the Beetaloo.

We have seen how these frackers are running roughshod over government and stakeholders time and time again. This includes misleading government and stakeholders about work plans, environmental assessments and ignoring regulations, yet the Gunner Government continued to roll out the red carpet and not hold these repeat offenders accountable or pay the consequences with ex-gas industry stooges as heads of departments that are supposed to be regulating with world’s best practices.

The NT Land Corporation was founded by the CLP in the early 80s to prevent land claims. They transferred public land to this shady entity. They are now selling or giving that land away to developers, some foreigners with no public reports, financials or reporting to parliament for scrutiny. The board of directors are stacked with senior government bureaucrats with no accountability.

If Natasha Fyles as the new Chief Minister wants community support and faith in government returned, she must act in the best interests of our communities, be honest and pull out the bull whip and crack these corrupt bureaucrats off.

It’s not acceptable anymore. Enough is enough. Government’s duty of care is being ignored and we are being rorted at every level of government with their arrogance and rip, strip and ship mentality that is crueling our environment while communities go without basic needs.

It’s your time to shine Natasha.

Daniel Tapp

Katherine

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