Northern Territory Traditional Owners and farmers who fear they will find themselves along the planned Tennant Creek to Darwin fracked gas pipeline route say they are being kept in the dark by the Gunner Government over the proposal.
Landowners fear they will only be invited to offer comment after the pipeline’s final route has already been decided by the government.
It has now been 10 months since the $327,000 taxpayer-funded tender to plan a route for the pipeline was quietly advertised on a government website, yet landholders between Tennant Creek and Darwin say they are still no closer to finding out what the pipeline would mean for them and their livelihoods.
Correspondence between a potential proponent and the NT Government reveals the company wanted to avoid telling landholders they would be impacted until a final route had been decided.
The contract was later awarded to controversial company CNC Project Management.
Recently, Environment Minister Eva Lawler’s office emailed landholders saying a pre-feasibility study into the pipeline route will conclude in March this year, despite no landholder consultation having occurred.
“We know, based on a draft government document that there were or are at least four different possible routes this fracked gas pipeline could take. Landholders deserve to be contacted if these pipelines would pass through their properties," said Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer.
Native Title Holder Ray Dimakarri Dixon, from Marlinja Community near Newcastle Waters, said Mudburra People had received no information from the government about the planned pipeline.
Mr Dixon has only recently discovered that, based on the draft pipeline map, the proposed gas pipeline would likely traverse his land, potentially less than 3 kms from his home.
“We want someone to come and talk to us about this proposed pipeline,” he said. “We were born on this country, we live on this country and we want to be consulted on our country.
“This pipeline is going to affect Mudburra land and that is why Traditional Owners need to be consulted.
“Our land has black soil plains and we are concerned about the problems involved with building a high pressure gas pipeline on these lands during the wet season.
“This is disrespectful to our people and our country. We live here and deserve to be consulted. The government and companies should not be avoiding us."
Katherine landholder, Kerrie Mott, who fears the pipeline will travers her property, said, “The Katherine Community remains steadfastly opposed to fracking and any activities associated with it.
“The proposed gas pipeline to convey the fracked gas is equally unwelcome through our region. This proposed gas pipeline appears shrouded in secrecy which is typical of the onshore oil and gas industry as a whole.
"To add insult to injury this unwelcome industry continues to be aided and abetted by the taxpayer funded NT Government. It makes you wonder who really stands to benefit from onshore oil and gas development because it sure as hell isn’t Territorians.”
Humpty Doo Landholder Pauline Cass, who fears her property will be impacted by the pipeline, said, “Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the proposed pipeline? Where might it pass through Darwin's rural area? Gas pipelines are notorious for leaking and exploding, how safe will it be during one of our frequent earthquakes? We need and deserve transparent information from our government."