Traditional Owners, farmers, and community groups urge the next premier to prioritise making good on Labor’s repeated promises to protect Queensland’s Lake Eyre Basin by banning new oil and gas from Channel Country rivers and floodplains.
The call comes as Deputy Premier Steven Miles looks set to become the state’s next premier on Friday, and the Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owner Alliance arrives in Brisbane this week, to call on the Queensland Government to fulfil its commitments to protect the Channel Country.
On the eve of the 2020 state election, Mr Miles wrote to Lock the Gate Alliance, noting the government had “made a commitment to ensure the protection of streams and floodplains in the Queensland section of the Lake Eyre Basin by returning the protections that existed in the Wild Rivers framework”. See letter here.
Since Labor was re-elected, the government has held meetings with stakeholders to inform how to best protect these rivers and floodplains. This year, the government received more than 20,000 submissions from the Queensland community supporting full protections of the floodplains from oil and gas developments.
However oil and gas companies like Santos have also been granted massive petroleum exploration tenements across the floodplains of the Channel Country.
Meanwhile, numerous scientific reports have revealed the damage existing oil and gas infrastructure has already inflicted on the floodplains, and warned of the bleak environmental consequences, should companies be permitted to expand and build new projects.
General Manager of the Mithaka Corporation and Traditional Owner Josh Gorringe said, “The Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owner Alliance is in Brisbane this week, calling on the Queensland government to fulfil their commitment to protect the Channel Country.
“Protection for the Channel Country is long overdue and paramount for Australia. We don’t want to see fracking on the floodplains, because it will impact the waterbird dreaming. Fracking will impact this songline. This is our culture, and you can’t put a price on it.”
Jundah cattle grazier Ann Rayment said, “The Channel Country is home to some of the last relatively untouched, free flowing desert rivers on the planet.
”It’s a very flat landscape. When the water spreads across the low creek system it turns the land green and there are flowers everywhere. It’s not just a narrow creek system - it spreads out for kilometres.
“Allowing unconventional gas on the floodplains could affect a huge area, and many of the negative impacts of unconventional gas are potentially irreversible.”
Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Ellen Roberts said, “In the lead up to each of the last three elections, Queensland Labor has promised to protect the rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin.
“The community consultation process has now finished, and there has been an overwhelming response form Queenslanders who want to see this part of the state protected.
“We’re calling on Steven Miles to be the premier who finally protects some of the last flowing desert rivers in the world, and all the businesses and communities that they support, from oil and gas.”