Weeks after fronting an online petition requesting the Queensland government to rescind Adani’s unlimited access to underground water, Longreach grazier Angus Emmott has lent his face and story to another water protection plea.
Begun by the Western Rivers Alliance, Angus is promoting its call to “protect the Channel Country's rivers and floodplains from fracking for shale gas” by signing another online petition.
More than 2000 square kilometres were awarded for exploration in the Cooper Basin in December last year by the Palaszczuk government.
In May 2017, Natural Resources Minister, Anthony Lynham told the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association annual convention in Perth that 395 square kilometres in the Surat Basin would be released for gas development to supply “the hungry east coast Australian market”.
It came on top of 58 square kilometres released in February.
In his introduction to the latest online petition, Angus said the future of the Channel Country was at risk as a result of these decisions.
“For one hundred years, families like mine have worked with the natural flows of the Channel Country rivers to produce some of Queensland's healthiest and cleanest beef,” he said.
He blamed the winding back of Wild Rivers laws by the Newman government for the present-day exploration outcome.
“Now, the Channel Country’s fertile floodplains could be fracked for shale gas,” he said. “I fear that if our rivers and floodplains are fracked, they will be poisoned and damaged forever.”
Dr Lynham said the two Australian-based companies awarded tenders in late 2016 to explore for petroleum and gas in the Cooper Basin will need to meet stringent environmental, native title and other approval requirements prior to being granted an authority to prospect.
“The area covered by the tenders announced last December excluded the most sensitive environmental areas associated with the floodplains and ephemeral lakes for which the Channel Country is renowned,” he said. “The successful tenders were also outside the previous Wild River framework High Preservation and Special floodplain management areas.”
Dr Lynham said the gas industry had been successfully operating in the Cooper Basin for nearly 60 years, with about 1500 wells already constructed in the Cooper and Eromanga basins.
“There are many established conduct and compensation agreements,” he said.
The government has commissioned an independent assessment of the scientific knowledge of the potential environmental impacts of natural gas extraction from shale formations, which will be taken to Cabinet for consideration.
“They will provide a better understanding of the potential impacts, and will assist in determining the appropriateness of our existing regulatory frameworks.”
The Western Rivers Alliance/Angus Emmott petition telling Premier Palaszczuk that fracking wasn’t welcome in the Channel Country had gained 1593 signatures as of Monday.
An earlier petition begun by Angus that called upon the government to rescind Adani’s access to unlimited water licences had garnered 70,370 signatures at the same time.
The mine is expected to draw 26 million litres of water a day, totalling 355 billion litres over its life.
Mr Emmott, taking a spell from an enforced round of cattle selling, said he wished more concerned people would promote petitions and agitate for change.
“The more the better but nobody wants to stick their head up,” he said.
He was anticipating the opportunity to press home his messages in the state election expected to be announced soon.