Traditional owners bringing gas protest to Sydney

A blue hand has become a symbol of the Protect Arnhem Land campaign. Photo: Protect Arnhem Land FB

Aboriginal traditional owners and the Protect Arnhem Land community campaign, based in the town of Maningrida, Northern Territory, are seeking the assistance of environment groups and Indigenous networks in Sydney to help raise awareness of the threat to Arnhem Land from oil and gas exploration.

Five traditional owners are travelling from Maningrida to Sydney in mid-July and are holding a public protest in Martin Place outside the offices of exploration company Paltar Petroleum.

The Environment Centre NT said: “Arnhem Land is under threat from fossil fuel companies and need your help. Ninety per cent of the land and all the nearshore waters are being targeted for exploration. These are some of the most ecologically uintact areas left in Australia, and the ancestral lands of thousands of Indigenous Territorians”.

The Wilderness Society and the Australian Marine Conservation Society are sponsoring the visit to Sydney by the Maningrida traditional owners.

The visit follows a growing campaign by NT traditional owners against oil and gas exploration in Arnhem Land. On December 10 last year, a meeting of 250 gathered in Maningrida to protest moves by Paltar Petroleum to gain exploration permits for offshore and onshore exploration in the region.

On February 19 this year, a large public meeting in Darwin, addressed by a broad range of speakers from concerned organisations, including Eddie Mason from the Maningrida community, and Drew Hutton from the Lock the Gate Alliance, condemned the plans for oil and gas exploration in the NT.

On March 14, a large meeting of traditional owners in Maningrida strongly opposed all oil and gas mining on land or sea in the Arnhem Land region. Since then, another company, Empire Gas, has claimed to have signed a Native Title Agreement with the NT Land Council and some Native Title claimants in the Urapunga region of eastern Arnhem Land.

[The protest will be held at 32 Martin Place, noon on July 19. For more information, visit Environment Centre NT.]