• Aunty Naomi Wilfred says she wants to stop Origin fracking on her country. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Native Title holders for the area surrounding Origin Energy’s Beetaloo Exploration Project say they're "angry and upset" following Origin's AGM, where they felt their voices weren't heard.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
20 Oct 2020 - 3:47 PM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2020 - 9:53 AM

Native Title holders for the Northern Territory's Beetaloo basin area say they were silenced at Origin Energy's Annual General Meeting on Tuesday.

Aunty Naomi Wilfred, a Djungai woman and an Alawa Native Title holder from Hodgson River near Nutwood Downs in the northern part of Origin Energy’s EP98 permit, said her community wants to stop fracking in the basin.

During the AGM, there were conflicting opinions about who the Native Title holders of the area were, with Origin's outgoing chair Gordon Cairns saying Ms Wilfred and senior Mudburra Jingili Traditional Owner Raymond Dixon were not Native Title holders in the Beetaloo Basin permit area.

Ms Wilfred told NITV News she was left feeling "angry" and "upset" after the AGM as a result.

"I'm feeling really down, really worried," she said.

"Aboriginal people know our history, we know our connection, we know each other.

"I don't know him [Origin Energy chair Gordon Cairns]. Why did he say that I couldn't speak? They should come down and consult and talk with us."

In a statement to NITV News, Origin Energy said the chairman's comments were not suggesting Ms Wilfred is not a Traditional Owner.

"Rather our exploration activities are not occurring on Ms Wilfred's country," the statement said.

"We understand some Traditional Owners may oppose fracking but it's also important to understand we are not exploring for gas or fracking on their lands or communities."

Ms Wilfred said Origin's activities will affect her country, and she is concerned about the waterways on her land.

In a video posted to social media, Ms Wilfred asked why Origin continues to frack the Beetaloo basin when Traditional Owners have not given their consent, Ms Wilfred's question was also submitted to the AGM.

 

Mr Dixon also submitted a question on behalf of his community, both in English and his language, Mudburra, which was read to AGM attendees.

“This is a statement from the Mudburra Jingili people. Listen to our words, you and your company are strangers to these homelands, our sacred grounds,” he said. 

“We don’t want fracking to continue on our land. 

“It puts our environment, our culture, our water and our community at risk. 

“We don’t want a gas pipeline running through our land because it damages our sacred sites. When will you stop this destruction and leave our lands?”

“Barna lankaj karri nginyama yurrawa...nyundiya karribadarra banda warnayaka kayini nginyangka ngurrangka. 

“Ngana nyunduma karriba? abala ban kayini nginyangka yulungka ban burdakbiji kayini. Ngadarra?”

An Origin spokesperson said the company has been working with the Northern Land Council (NLC) and engaging with Traditional Owners on the areas where activity has been proposed.

"Origin’s permit areas are very large – some 18,500 square kilometres spanning 10 pastoral leases over which Native Title has been determined. Our exploration activity to date has occurred on four pastoral leases in which there are 11 primary estate groups," they said.

"The NLC has facilitated ongoing engagement with those groups who can speak for the areas where our exploration wells are located. 

 

"Last month Native Title holders – the host Traditional Owners for where we’re currently working – visited our site during fracking operations.

"They were able to inspect all the equipment and see how it works as well as spend time with our on-site specialists to see up close how the fracking process is safely undertaken – and importantly how their land and water is protected."

GetUp’s First Nations Justice spokesperson Larissa Baldwin said some Native Title holders haven't been consulted about plans to frack in the Beetaloo Basin and Origin has been "misleading about who it consults with".

"The company’s duty to the Traditional Owners, under both the Native Title Act and the relevant petroleum legislation, is very clear in terms of negotiations,” she said.

“Origin’s Chair claimed he is confident about Origin’s consultation with Traditional Owners because he has personally sat down and had dinner with them. 

"Aunty Naomi Wilfred told me: ‘He’s never sat down with me.  I don’t know him from a bar of soap’.”

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