Fracking rage

Karen Monaghan said Palascszcuk had turned her back on a handshake.

By Michael R Williams

Under the assumption the channels would be protected by the Palaszczuk Government, Queenslanders dependant on the Lake Eyre Basin will now be fighting for their way of life.

“The horse has bolted,” Karen Monaghan, Wangkangurru Yarluyandi traditional owner said.

“Once the horse has bolted, it’s hard to control it after that.”

Ms Monaghan, along with other graziers, conservationists, and locals from Channel Country, were caught offside when the State Government told them production for shale oil licenses had been approved – shale oil most often requires fracking.

“We were told that we’d have a consultation but, sadly, there’s been none before the biggest decision was made,” Ms Monaghan said.

“It’s something that our governments, in different States, are just going ahead and doing it.

“It’s not only happening here but in the Territory and Western Australia as well; consultation that is promised is just pushed aside – ignored.“

Ms Monahan is a part of the Western Rivers Alliance, she and her constituents have done a lot of footwork and have put money into producing a network to lobby for the Channel Country.

“We need people to consider the land a priority,” she said.

“We can’t just miss out on the main decision – we’re not out here, but it’s sadly becoming common for us to be ignored.

“I know the Government thinks about generating finances for Australia and maybe work for whoever is in the district, but it’s pretty clear when you look at the gas in the Darling Downs that, you know, it just went boom and then bust.”

Ms Monahan said she was worried her grandchildren may not be able to swim and drink from the same rivers she did as a kid.

“You know I have some really dear friends who have properties in the Channels, I am sure that they would want to have their great-grandchildren to inherit their land, as they have as well,” she said.

“The water is drinkable now, but if fracking comes in, there’s no guarantee that the water is going to be drinkable for stock or humans.

“My ancestors would walk from waterhole to waterhole – what happens when I want to take my grandchildren there? what happens when my sister wants to take her grandchildren there?

“We still go now, it doesn’t matter if it’s 45 degrees – we’ll get up at three am and go fishing.“

Ms Monaghan said she was disappointed in the decision.

“Things are happening on the land, right now, that is wonderful for the land,” Ms Monaghan said.

“There are people out here who work to manage the land now, it’s been looked at positively.

“But this, I’m sure they’ll be able to write wonderful policies, but it’s still going to damage the land on a level that won’t be measurable.”

The already fragile Lake Eyre Basin could end up with hundreds of tonnes of chemicals dumped into its system.

“That’s not a cordial bottle,” Ms Monaghan said.

“It was the gas company’s (Origin Energy) biggest hurdle, and now it’s been passed.

In 2019 the Palaszczuk Government stated they would support the Lake Eyre Traditional Owners Alliance and give them an “active role in the decision-making and management of that area“.

“When are we going to get the opportunity to have that consultation, and is there any point to it anymore?,“ Ms Monaghan said.

“What measures there are for control is not going to be consulted with us.

“There’s no indigenous consultation been had at all – just one would have been good.”

The applications for petroleum leases granted will cover more than 250,000 hectares of Channel Country.

“It’s scary that we can have over 9000 wells put in the basin – that’s a lot,” she said.

“The footprint of one well is up to four hectares, that’s a lot of space taken up.

“They will need to compensate the landholders quite well – south of Longreach, the production of the organic stock is massive.”

Ms Monaghan grew up in Windorah where they still pump water out of the creek.

“The town water in Windorah is still processed in town,” she said.

“What’s going to happen to all these little towns that sit on these major waterholes? How are the cattle stations going to fill out the chemicals?

“In the desert and the heat, we need water every single day.”

Ms Monaghan said she has seen the destruction of waterways in places such as the Darling Downs.

“This waterway is in pretty good condition,” she said.

“It’s the lifeblood of us out here.”

“Like the people of the outback, I believe a handshake is a handshake,“ Ms Monaghan said.

“Every second person out here believes in that.

“Where do we find a politician who believes in that?“