Anti-fracking protesters take aim at Santos

Issue 
Protests were held in Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle and at the company’s headquarters in Adelaide.

About 100 protesters, adorned in yellow and black berets, skirts, scarves, blouses, dresses and umbrellas gathered outside the Santos HQ near Circular Quay on May 4 to tell Santos to frack off from the Pilliga, near Narrabri. With them, sitting in a nearby tree, was a huge koala — symbolising one the endangered species whose habitat is being destroyed.

Protests were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle and at the company's headquarters in Adelaide where the new CEO was fronting his first AGM. Santos has lost more than $1 billion on its coal seam gas (CSG) project at Narrabri.

About 100 protesters, adorned in yellow and black berets, skirts, scarves, blouses, dresses and umbrellas gathered outside the Santos HQ near Circular Quay on May 4 to tell Santos to frack off from the Pilliga, near Narrabri. With them, sitting in a nearby tree, was a huge koala — symbolising one the endangered species whose habitat is being destroyed.

Protests were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle and at the company's headquarters in Adelaide where the new CEO was fronting his first AGM. Santos has lost more than $1 billion on its coal seam gas (CSG) project at Narrabri.

Nic Clyde from Lock the Gate Alliance began by asking participants to observe a minute's silence for the late NSW Greens MP John Kaye who had had fought tirelessly for renewable energy.

Gomeroi woman Venessa Hickey, a founder of No CSG Walgett, welcomed the protesters to country. She and her children had travelled overnight to attend the protest. She described how CSG is of great concern because CSG companies, like Santos, are not being held responsible for cleaning up the toxic spills such as those in the Pilliga.

Hickey also made the point that Aboriginal people had looked after the land for tens of thousands of years. “They preserved this land superbly. The Aboriginal law of the land must be recognised. If the land dies, we die”, she said to huge applause.

Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham spoke about how he witnessed the gas flaring on the Condamine River in south-west Queensland in April. “This is a toxic 'suck it and see' experiment we do not want”, he said. “It is not natural. Southern Queensland looks like it has been invaded. The industry in US is called 'rape, ruin and run'. France has banned the industry. It is utter madness.”

Clare Twomey, a founding member of the Knitting Nannas, described the children in Queensland who live close to the CSG mines: “They have pale skin, are lethargic, with bags under their eyes and they are bleeding from the noses and ears. They have permanent headaches.”

She said the Knitting Nannas are paying to transport drinking and bathing water to these communities because the children cannot have baths in the bore water as they get chemical burns all over their bodies.

“The Nannas are cranky now. We are no longer nice Nannas. We are locking onto state parliament, also because we disagree with the new anti-protest laws”, she told the crowd.

The Ecopella Choir sang a number of their anti-fracking songs and Johnny Nicols sang a beautiful rendition of “Old Man River”.

Ualaroi Kamileroi woman Barbara Flick Oongi from Dubbo spoke passionately about rising up against the money-hungry, greedy corporations that are destroying the Great Artesian Basin.

She described how furious she was to hear former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard speak about the massacre at Port Arthur and never once mention the massacres of 400 Aboriginal men, women and children at Brewarrina in 1836, and the massacres at Myall Creek and Evans Head.

“Our people fought and died to protect our land and water. We have to take direct action as the politicians are not listening”, she said.

Phil Bradley, from Parramatta Climate Action Network and the Greens candidate for Parramatta spoke about divestment from superannuation funds that invest in coal, oil and gas.

Bill Ryan, a 94-year-old anti-fracking activist from the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre and Daisy Barham from the Nature Conservation Council NSW also spoke.

Barham was contradicted by the crowd when she said that Santos was the only gas company left to fight in NSW. Several Camden residents at the protest said they want AGL to close down now, not in 2023. The wells are operating very close to new housing developments and children and families are getting very sick.

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