The Palaszczuk Government has given one of the biggest signals yet that it plans to backflip on multiple election promises to protect the Lake Eyre Basin from new oil and gas after it granted a prospecting licence across 1000 square kilometres north west of Quilpie, including on fragile floodplains.
Revelations the government had granted Authority to Prospect 1194 last week to Pure Energy Corporation come as concerned community groups and Traditional Owners from South West Queensland rallied outside Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane today, demanding the government stick to its promises and ban new oil and gas in the region.
Granting of the licence followed rounds of stakeholder negotiations which were intended to help establish protections for the basin. However, the Palaszczuk Government has delayed releasing a promised paper that would outline options for protections of the region.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said Western Queensland locals and their allies feared the oil and gas lobby had convinced the Palaszczuk Government to backflip on its promises, and the region could soon be sacrificed to industrial fracking projects.
“The granting of this new authority to prospect across 1000 square kilometres of Lake Eyre Basin floodplains is more proof the Palaszczuk Government is not working with stakeholders in good faith,” she said.
It’s not the first time the government has approved large oil and gas tenements in the basin while at the same time claiming it was committed to working with stakeholders - last year, petroleum leases covering more than 250,000 hectares south west of Windorah were granted to Origin Energy.
“The Palaszczuk Government is saying one thing publicly to Queenslanders, while behind closed doors it is waving oil and gas approvals through. It is time for the government to come clean about its real plans.
“The granting of new exploration licences highlights why these protections are needed. They will give certainty to the community. Some places are just too precious to frack.
“The gas industry is incompatible with river protections in the Lake Eyre Basin. Floodplains that flow into Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre have been recognised as some of the last great free flowing outback rivers in the world. They support a huge organic beef industry and their cultural heritage significance is world renown. Already hundreds of fracked gas wells pock-mark this landscape and hundreds of kilometres of roads and pipelines connect the wells while disrupting natural water flows. We cannot risk allowing this industry to expand any further. Doing so would result in the death of a true natural and cultural wonder.”