Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Environment: Beetaloo Basin
I, and also on behalf of Senator Thorpe, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) approximately 90% of regional water demand in the Northern Territory is supplied by groundwater,
(ii) First Nations communities and farmers remain strongly opposed to fracking in the Beetaloo Basin due to risks of groundwater contamination,
(iii) the Independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Onshore Unconventional Reservoirs in the Northern Territory recommended a review of risks to groundwater supplies,
(iv) the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, funded by the gas industry and the Federal Government, subsequently commissioned a review of the McArthur region, including the Beetaloo Basin, and
(v) the review, conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Charles Darwin University, found stygofauna, Parisia unguis, throughout groundwater in the study area, confirming the interconnected groundwater system extends at least 300 kilometres; and
(b) calls on the Government to:
(i) withdraw funding for the Beetaloo Strategic Basin Plan, and
(ii) abandon its plans for a gas-led recovery, and instead support the farmers and Traditional Owners who do not want their water supplies threatened, their cultural heritage compromised, and the climate sacrificed by the Beetaloo fracking project.
As part of the gas fired recovery, the government provided $13.7 million to extend the CSIRO's Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, including in the NT. Stygofauna are small animals found in groundwater systems. GISERA's research confirms the presence of the same species at widely separated sites across the Cambrian Limestone Aquifer in the NT. There is nothing to suggest that unconventional gas development will impact on these animals, with industry having world's best practice technologies above that recommended by the independent scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing. The gas industry is vital for the economic development of the NT. The Greens will seize on every opportunity to spread misinformation and fear.