• 2017 rally against fracking (Will Probert)Source: Will Probert
Young environmentalists will rally across the country today as the future of an onshore gas industry in the Northern Territory hangs in the balance.
By
Rachael Hocking

21 Mar 2018 - 10:44 AM  UPDATED 21 Mar 2018 - 10:47 AM

Michael Gunner's government is yet to make a decision on whether it will lift a ban on fracking it enacted in 2016, saying any move will be informed by the final report from an independent scientific inquiry headed by Justice Rachel Pepper, but activists are calling on the Chief Minister to meet with them in person as well. 

Environmental group Seed's National Co-Director, Millie Telford, said their message to the NT government centres on the health of their water and communities. 

"The pollution from just one gas basin in the Territory is equivalent to 130 new coal fired power stations operating for 40 years," she said.

“Water is life in the Northern Territory and the risk to people’s health is too great to experiment with."

Garawa woman and climate justice campaigner for Seed, Nicole Hutton, said several meeting requests from their group have been knocked back by the Chief Minister's office in the past few weeks. She said Wednesday's actions in capital cities across the country is their way of ensuring their voices are heard.

"I hope that the politicians actually realise that the Aboriginal voices in the NT matter and that people are listening to us. And that Michael Gunner realises he needs to meet with us," she said.

Ms Hutton also raised concerns about the way Justice Pepper's inquiry has consulted with NT communities. She said Seed played a big role in bringing numbers to the open forums held at the beginning of the year, and that the inquiry itself was not doing enough to engage. 

"The extent to which communities do not want fracking is not being heard," she said. 

Seed has recently released a documentary called Water is Life, which documents how First Nations people in Australia have learnt from their brothers and sisters' fight in the US. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe used the slogan, Water is Life, in their protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline which went viral in 2016.  

"That message really related to us. Water in the NT changes everything. Water in the NT is precious," Ms Hutton said. 

The Inquiry's draft final report from December last year indicated fracking could go ahead in the NT with "manageable" risks, but an open letter to that inquiry from 31 of Australia's leading climate scientists in February said fracking is incompatible with Australia's commitments under the Paris climate agreement. 

Community consultation on the draft report's findings wrapped up in February, and a decision is expected by Easter. 

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