Parliament and politicians fail on fracking
When the Northern Territory government opened 51 per cent of the territory to unconventional gas extraction, Guardian Australia’s Lisa Cox responded with “'Not safe, not wanted': is the end of NT fracking ban a taste of things to come?”
The headline referred to the NT fracking inquiry committee’s final report summary, “For a significant majority of the people participating in the inquiry, the overwhelming consensus was that hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas in the NT is not safe, is not trusted and is not wanted.”
In her wide ranging article Cox quoted Lock the Gate NSW coordinator Georgina Woods: “Like other extractive industries, they have a lot of reach, a lot of money, a lot of power – and governments in Australia do tend to eventually concede to extractive industries.”
Cox reported that only five companies – Origin, Exxon-Mobil, BHP, Shell and Santos, dominate worldwide. In the NT Pangaea Resources and Mitsubishi are also involved, and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting owns an active licence south of Mataranka Springs near Katherine.
That Rinehart’s company relinquished portions of the licence last year to create a 25km exploration buffer zone from the springs and the Roper River, indicates the strength of opposition. But 25 km means little, as water resources there are all connected.
WA and SA administrations have banned or imposed moratoriums on fracking in farming areas, wine regions and tourist centres - for now - after seeing powerful united fronts derail fracking deals in the east. But Aboriginal lands in the Canning basin in the Kimberley and APY Lands in SA appear to be fair game.
Betrayals or business as usual?
Cox wrote, “A week after the NT ended its ban in April, the treasurer, Scott Morrison, gave the territory an extra $260m to make up for its low GST share, as well as an extra $550m over five years for remote Indigenous housing. He denied the timing of the decision was linked to the lifting of the moratorium.”
Nick Evershed also in Guardian Australia pointed out, “Queensland’s CSG industry was helped along by a government scheme introduced in 2000 that required 13% of all power supplied to the state electricity grid to be generated by gas by 2005.”
Parliamentary subservience to the mining industry couldn’t be clearer.
Gumbaynggirr man and Tent Embassy Firekeeper, Roxley Foley, spoke earlier this year of the need to “combine our revolution with the working peoples’ revolution, and bring everyone with us.”
NT First Nations’ youth group, Seed says, “Together we must strengthen our land rights and put community before profits.
“Communities have a right to have the final say about what happens on their country, and to make decisions about their own lives. Only when communities have the freedom to define their own path, can our people truly heal.”
The struggle against fracking is only one of many battles raging across the country against the multinational corporations’ exploitation of Australian people and natural resources.
Third generation farmer Josh Borowski was one of six farmers in a group lock-on opposing fracking in the Pilliga, NSW on 2014.
In Longford Victoria, 230 maintenance workers on ExxonMobil’s off shore gas platform have been on a year-long picket line in an intense battle with the multinational hell-bent on crushing Australian workers’ hard won wages and conditions.
In Melbourne on 17 April, 1000 strong state-wide delegates meeting to Change the Rules marched to ExxonMobil head office in solidarity with the Longford workers. Outside the multinational’s head office, Troy Carter, one of the Longford maintenance workers’ delegates on the picket line, sent a powerful message to ExxonMobil, “These workers clearly understand the importance of their long fight and the sacrifices their families are making in standing up against one of the world’s biggest multinationals. How dare a multinational company come into our backyard and rape our natural resources and not put back into our country and our families what belongs to us. We’re proud Australian workers and if you’re not going to stop ripping us off and not pay any taxes, well you can get out of here.” (For full article see Vanguard May Day edition)
In the past 4 years ExxonMobil didn’t pay any taxes and has now announced that it will continue not to pay taxes in Australia for another 4 years!
The struggles for working people’s livelihoods, protection of country and the environment and for the wealth of Australia’s natural resources to benefit the people have a common enemy in the multinational domination and exploitation of Australia.
As mis-governments and politicians sell out the people, a mood for substantial change grows. Some illusions remain that changing the faces or parties in parliament will be enough. But the longer these battles continue, the more those involved are learning that solutions lie in their own united action.
Parliament does not serve the people. Its democracy is illusory. It automatically serves the corporate ruling class unless the united people force it to do otherwise. We need to build a system that serves the people.