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Southern councils stand in solidarity with Territorians fighting fracking

Origin Energy’s public licence to conduct its morally reprehensible fracking program in the Northern Territory has been dealt another blow, with a fifth Sydney council voting to oppose the company’s actions.

The City of Canterbury-Bankstown this week became the latest council to request that “Origin Energy cease all plans to conduct fracking in the Northern Territory and elsewhere due to its impact on the climate, communities, environment and water, and commit to further investment in environmentally and socially sustainable renewable energy projects."

Inner West and Waverley councils voted to support the motion last week, after Ryde and Randwick passed the motion earlier this year. 

All five Councils that have voted to oppose fracking in the NT are customers of Origin Energy, and more councils in the Greater Sydney area are expected to support the motion in the coming months.

The added public pressure on Origin Energy comes after the company announced it would temporarily halt fracking operations in the Territory due to the impacts of the oil price crisis and Covid-19. However, the company still has a skeleton crew at its Kyalla Well in the Beetaloo Basin, and has indicated it has plans to recommence fracking later this year.

Canterbury Bankstown City Mayor Khal Asfour said, “I was pleased the motion was passed unanimously. In fact our council is investing in a wide range of initiatives designed to increase the use of sustainable energy. Some of these initiatives include purchasing sustainable energy, installing solar systems on council properties and encouraging schools, residents and businesses to install solar panels on their buildings, transitioning to the use of electric fleet vehicles, and installing heat pumps at pools and leisure centres."

Ryde councillor Penny Pedersen said, “I feel strongly that fracking projects like this are at odds with our council’s climate emergency declaration, our investment in renewable energy, emissions reduction, and our reconciliation plan. Our (renewable energy) Power Purchase Agreement councils have an opportunity to collectively urge energy providers to invest in more renewable energy, jobs of the future and not projects that will further damage our natural and cultural environments.”

Randwick Deputy Mayor Philipa Veitch said, “Fracking will make climate change worse, yet Origin Energy, which tries to promote itself as having ‘good energy’ wants to frack the NT against the wishes of the majority of the population. A more suitable and positive alternative to shale gas fracking Origin should be considering is to further its investment in renewable energy and help Australia become the world’s renewable energy powerhouse.”

Waverley councillor Dominic Wy Kanak said, “Fracking the NT would not only be one of the largest potential sources of carbon pollution in the world, but it poses huge threats to the lands, waters and rights of Aboriginal people to make decisions about what happens on their country.”

Lock the Gate Alliance Sydney spokesperson James Stanton-Cooke welcomed the councils’ decisions to pressure Origin to abandon its fracking projects.

“Origin’s fracking plans are not only a threat to communities and the environment, but they completely lack social licence from Traditional Owners and the broader Northern Territory population,” he said.

“It is terrific that these councils in Sydney, who are customers of Origin Energy, recognise the damage Origin is doing in the NT and are taking steps to stand in solidarity with Territorians opposed to fracking.

“The message is loud and clear, Origin customers do not want the company to continue to pursue dirty, fracked gas.

“Sydney ratepayers - whose money pays Origin Energy’s bills to these Councils - are clearly concerned about climate change and are actively lobbying their local government representatives to take action to reduce emissions.

Analysis by The Australia Institute shows that if fracking is allowed to proceed in the NT, it will generate more greenhouse gas emissions than all Australian coal power stations combined.

“Origin would do well to recognise this and immediately announce a permanent stop to its fracking project in the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia.”

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