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Traditional owners ramp up fight against Origin Energy to end fracking in the NT

16 October 2019 at 5:41 pm
Maggie Coggan
Over 30 traditional owners walked out of the meeting after delivering demands to the energy giant 

Maggie Coggan | 16 October 2019 at 5:41 pm


Traditional owners ramp up fight against Origin Energy to end fracking in the NT
16 October 2019 at 5:41 pm

Over 30 traditional owners walked out of the meeting after delivering demands to the energy giant 

Large crowds of Aboriginal landowners and community groups have stormed Origin Energy’s annual general meeting protesting the company’s continued fracking of the territory. 

Around 30 traditional landowners from the NT attended the AGM on Wednesday, telling Origin’s CEO, chair and the board of directors that the company did not have permission to frack their land for gas.  

It marks the second year in a row traditional owners have travelled interstate to confront Origin Energy and its shareholders. 

They are now ramping up calls for the company to show what information is presented to traditional owner groups before making agreements to frack.

Earlier this year, the NT government lifted it’s three-year moratorium on exploration fracking for onshore shale gas in the Beetaloo Basin, despite widespread concern about environmental risks.

The company said it received permission from traditional owners for exploration fracking at the Amungee well in the Beetaloo in 2015. So far the company has drilled four wells and plans to drill two more before the year is out.  

But during last year’s meeting, land holders told the company and its shareholders that when permission for fracking was sought, they did not fully understand the company’s explanations of processes or the size of developments potentially numbering hundreds of wells.

Origin chairman, Gordon Cairns, reportedly agreed in the 2018 AGM to visit the affected communities to consult with them, but this is yet to happen. 

Larissa Baldwin, a GetUp! campaign director who attended the AGM told Pro Bono News that the traditional owners left the event after their questions were repeatedly shut down by Cairns. 

“Chairman Gordon Cairns was trying to get them to sit down and stop talking about consent and the fact that they’d been lied to by Origin,” Baldwin said. 

“Obviously, he didn’t want these questions discussed in front of his shareholders,” Baldwin said. 

A number of community organisations including Get Up!, Seed Mob and, as well as hundreds of members of the public gathered in protest outside the meeting, called for an immediate ban on the process. 

Civil society groups have protested against the controversial plan to frack for gas in the NT for some years now, arguing it would poison entire water systems and destroy natural habitats and remote communities. 

Baldwin said the large number of people at the protest was indicative of how the community felt about fracking.  

“People understand how many people in regions [and] remote communities are doing it so tough right now with water,” she said.  

“Australians get that, and that’s why people are supporting it.”   

She said Origin shareholders and customers now had the power to pressure the company into ending its involvement in the project. 

“We want to go after Origin and their customers and ask them if they know Origin is doing this, and [if they know] where their gas is actually coming from and get their customers to start putting pressure on them,” she said.   

“We had an amazing win with the big four banks when we got them to stop funding thermal coal, and I don’t know why it can’t be the same with this.”

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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