Thousands of Queenslanders have voiced their support for full protections of Lake Eyre Basin rivers and floodplains from new oil and gas, as the Palaszczuk Government's consultation period closes this week.
With still two days to go, stakeholders advocating for protection of the floodplains have received more than 22,000* individual submissions, which have been passed on to the government.
The Lake Eyre Basin rivers are among the last free-flowing desert rivers left on the planet. The floodplains support an abundance of wildlife, local communities, cultural connection, and sustainable businesses. Images and videos are available here.
It follows eight years of pressure from First Nations, local landholders, and conservation groups, who have called on the Palaszczuk Government to make good on multiple election promises to protect the rivers and floodplains. During this period of delay oil and gas companies have been allowed to apply for exploration and petroleum licences across the floodplains.
Submissions received during the consultation period will now inform the Palaszczuk Government’s final decision.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith urged the Palaszczuk Government not to delay introducing protections for the region.
“Based on this mountain of submissions, it’s clear Queenslanders want to see the breathtakingly beautiful and culturally rich floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin protected from new oil and gas.
“So much damage has already been done. Scientific research shows oil and gas developments are already impeding the flow of water in parts of the floodplains.
“Allowing new oil and gas would wreak havoc on Far Western QLD’s sustainable beef industry, which relies on the floodplains and their life-giving water.
“It would irreparably damage the cultural heritage Traditional Owners and the wider Australian community hold dear.
“Likewise, thousands of tourists flock to this region when it is in flood to witness its explosion of wildlife, boosting the local economy. No one is going to want to visit a wasteland pockmarked with thousands of frack wells.”
Western Rivers Alliance spokesperson Riley Rocco said, “It is heartening to see thousands of Australians are supporting the Channel Country cattle graziers, Traditional Owners, and local community members who have been calling for stronger protections from oil and gas for many years. We now ask the Palaszczuk Government to listen and implement stronger protection for the Lake Eyre Basin’s rivers and Channel Country floodplains without delay. ”
Wilderness Society Queensland Campaigns Manager, Hannah Schuch said, “Thousands of people have seized this opportunity to make their voices heard and protect the Lake Eyre Basin from destructive and extractive industries that, if allowed to expand, would drain the life out of these exceptional desert rivers and floodplains. We know that when community voices are heard, we arrive at better outcomes for both nature and people. The government must now listen to what people are crying out for in these submissions - no new oil and gas on the Channel Country floodplains and river systems.”
Nigel Parratt, Queensland Conservation Council spokesperson said, “As its ecological and cultural values are too important to compromise, the Palaszczuk Government must honour its 2015, 2017 and 2020 election commitments to protect the rivers, floodplains and wetlands within the Queensland part of the Lake Eyre Basin.”
BirdLife Australia spokesperson Erin Farley said, “Lake Eyre Basin is one of Australia’s most important breeding sites for waterbirds, including endangered species, which also makes it a sought after nature based tourism destination. Its natural values must be protected.”
Protect the Bush Alliance Chairperson Sheena Gillman said; “Health of the entire landscape and water security for nature into the future is too important to compromise.”
*The total is a combination of the submissions received from supporters by the various groups mentioned above and delivered to the government. It does not include the many submissions made through the government portal and other individual submissions from graziers, scientists, and stakeholders organisations.