Darwin rally demands Labor keep its promises

Larrakia welcome to country and smoking ceremony
The rally opened with a Larrakia welcome to country and smoking ceremony. Photo: Andrea Jones

Two hundred people rallied outside Parliament House in Darwin on October 18, demanding the new Labor government keep its pre-election promise for a broad scientific inquiry into the unconventional gas industry and a moratorium on shale gas fracking.

Fracking was a major issue in the August 27 election, in which the Labor government swept to power with a massive majority.

Lauren Mellor from the NT Frack-Free Alliance told the crowd: "We've seen a betrayal of the people over and over again. We don't want to see another betrayal from an arrogant and out of touch government. We're here to keep the new government accountable."

Labor promised a broad inquiry into the impacts of an onshore shale gas industry, which would collect baseline data on water quality and look at all aspects of the industry — water usage, land clearing, contamination risks and the particularly controversial act of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

After coming to power, the new government announced a moratorium only on fracking, and released draft terms of reference for the new inquiry which again only covered the act of fracking and made no mention of baseline data collection.

Daniel Tapp, from Big River Station in the Roper River region, told the crowd: "Pastoralists are locked into land access agreements against our will. I think it's wrong that we're made to poison our water. I know the territory is a bit of a basket case financially, but if this industry goes ahead, in 50 or 100 years the water will be poisoned, and there's no history in that."

Mellor reminded people that this campaign has mobilised people many times in the past  and said "We will come out time and again to demand a proper halt to the industry. What [Labor] said they would do before the election, we're asking them the honour that."

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