Anti-fracking activists were in Sydney today to launch a national campaign urging Australians to join the fight in protecting the Territory from Origin’s fracking plans.
Traditional owners from surrounding Katherine areas travelled to share their powerful stories at the front of Origin’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The Protect Country Alliance alongside native title holders put pressure on the energy company by asking investors to drop the high-risk project.
They are also urging customers to switch to other electricity providers, until Origin agrees to drop plans for fracking the Territory.
Origin CEO Frank Calabria defended the company’s activities saying, “we have good relationships with our host traditional owners in the areas where our activity takes place in the Beetaloo Basin, and we have lawfully and respectfully obtained consent for our exploration activities.”
Karrina Nolan the director of Original Power, said she was excited with the amount of people standing in solidarity with traditional owners.
“We are all part of a powerful movement, and this is just the very beginning of our campaign to tell Origin they cannot frack in the Northern Territory,” Ms Nolan said.
“We will be talking to every single Origin customer across this country, every single board member, every single shareholder. We will be telling them it is not okay, that traditional owners did not give them consent to frack the Territory,” she said.
The group of native title holders are challenging Origin, claiming the company did not procure agreements from NT landholders for fracking exploration.
“We know that traditional owners have not been given the correct information about fracking,” Ms Nolan said.
“They have often been told there will be just five frack wells, not 500.
“They haven’t been told there will be hundreds of chemicals, they’ve been told there will just be a handful.
“And they haven’t been told what Origin’s plans are for the water, or how they will manage the emissions,” she said.
Northern Territory Native Title holders presented Origin Energy’s Executive with a letter of complaint signed by close to 200 fellow landholders at its company AGM in Sydney today.
The letter accuses Origin of inadequate consultation practices over its NT gas fracking agreements.
“The group said Origin withheld critical information about the scale and risks of its Beetaloo basin gasfield proposals and that Origin’s conduct denied the right to fair process for landholders, and breaches the company’s stated commitment to principles of free, prior and informed consent during negotiations,” Lauren Mellor from Protect Country Alliance said.
Stephanie Roberts, a native title holder from Minyerri said she was worried about her land, today at the AGM.
“Our community doesn’t want fracking on our land,” Ms Roberts said.
“We don’t want fracking through the water system. It will poison the land. It will impact our bush foods. The fracking wells pollute the air and make young kids sick. We are thinking about the future generations when we say no.
“[Origin] didn’t give us the right details about what is involved with fracking. Origin and the Land Council have only spoken to a small group of people, and not enough information was provided to us.
“We’re worried about our land. Now we know more about what can happen to our land if the fracking goes ahead. We don’t want you to come back again. We don’t want fracking on our country.”
The landholder’s objections were backed by a vote on a shareholder resolution lodged by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR).
A total of 7.76 per cent of shareholders backed calls for Origin to conduct a review into its NT gas fracking agreements and report publicly on the outcome.
“Landholders have welcomed the over-due commitment from Origin to provide copies of its contested consultation materials to concerned community members,” Protect Country Alliance’s Ms Mellor said.
“Strong landholder opposition to Origin’s NT gasfields present a significant business risk to the company and the future viability of its project.”
According to an Origin spokesperson, the Northern Land Council is in charge of determining who are native title holders on the permit areas.
“This includes determining which traditional owners attend meetings where Origin’s future activities are discussed, and that there are appropriate decision-makers for the different traditional owner groups at those meetings.”
Origin CEO Frank Calabria said he has confidence in the processes of the Northern Land Council.
“The AGM demonstrates there is more we can do to better inform neighbouring communities about Origin’s activities, and we welcome the invitation we received yesterday to come into some of these Aboriginal communities to talk about what we do and listen to their concerns.”