Traditional Owners demand Empire Energy stop plans to frack Beetaloo Basin

June 1, 2023
Protesters gather outside Empire Energy’s AGM. Photo: Rachel Evans

More than 30 people took action outside fossil fuel company Empire Energy’s Annual General Meeting in Gadi/Sydney on May 30, demanding that the company stop its plans to frack the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory. organiser Alessandro Moliterno told the crowd: “Empire Energy is pushing ahead to frack the Beetaloo Basin despite Traditional Owners telling them ‘No!’ Over 85% of the NT is covered in exploration licences. Empire currently has a permit to frack an area twice the size of Tasmania and they’ve been given millions by their mates in the former Morrison government to speed up their plans.”

Aunty Rhonda Dixon, Gadigal/Bidgigal/Yuin Elder from the south coast of New South Wales, gave an acknowledgement to Country.

Dixon read a statement from the Yanyuwa and Garrwa people, which said: “For over a decade we have been saying ‘No’ to frackers like Empire Energy. We, the Traditional Owners, would normally make the long and arduous journey from our remote Aboriginal communities to look Empire’s decision-makers right in the eye. But we are here busy organising our community and making sure the Territory government can’t get away with their broken promises.”

Moliterno said: “A recent inquiry made 183 recommendations stipulating conditions before any fracking goes ahead. They include environmental protection measures, such as protecting water, examining impacts of climate changes on any fracking projects, Aboriginal cultural rights and commitments to uphold local community rights to appeal these approvals.

“The NT government says they’ve implemented these changes, but they have not.”

“The Environment Defenders Office and an independent auditor have pointed out the NT government has failed to implement these measures, especially the ones that relate to water protection,” Moliterno said.

Empire Energy’s plan has even drawn criticism from federal Labor MP Marion Scrymgour, Moliterno said, adding that she is calling for a halt on mining approvals due to fracking risks.

Nic Clyde from Lock the Gate also addressed the crowd and Ecopella, an environmental community choir, sang an anti-fracking song.

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