Fracking in the NT is fraught with risks to our …

Comment on ‘Gunner the Betrayer’ by Shirley Crane.

Fracking in the NT is fraught with risks to our fragile environment.
After a conversation with a Santos representative at the Katherine Show who claimed that the NT was not likely to ever experience a serious earthquake, because we’re not on the edge of a tectonic plate.
This prompted me to research into the risk of seismic activity in the fracking zones, and have been more than a little alarmed by the results.
The largest earthquake in Australia (6.7 magnitude) was recorded at Tennant Creek in 1988, and it was only one of a series of three that all recorded an over 6 magnitude.
These did more than $2.5 million worth of damage (in 1988 values) in Tennant Creek, particularly to the hospital, and twisted a long section of a gas pipeline, something that the gas companies should perhaps consider in their planning.
These earthquakes were followed up by more than 20,000 after-shocks that went on for years – in fact, some of the tremors that the NT is still experiencing may still be related to that earthquake.
The Newcastle earthquake in 1989 that killed 13 people and did more than $4bn worth of damage was 5.7 magnitude, so it stands to reason that any earthquake over a magnitude of 5 will do serious damage to fracking wells, particularly since they are intra-plate earthquakes and, therefore, totally unpredictable.
Intra-plate earthquakes are shallow, and have the capacity to destroy infrastructure at or near the surface of the earth.
There have been two recent earthquakes of more than 5 magnitude in the NT – one on 30th May this year about 330 km NW of Alice Springs and another in 2016, in the Petermann Ranges near Uluru.
The disturbing quality of intra-plate earthquakes is that they can turn up anywhere, at any time, and there will be no warning whatsoever, so if the gas companies are ignoring the issue, or claiming that it’s so low risk it doesn’t need considering, we all might be in for a very nasty surprise one day.

Recent Comments by Shirley Crane

Finocchiaro to talk about jobs in onshore gas
Given that a number of the recommendations have already been either watered down or put aside by the NT Government, including the promise to implement all 135 recommendations before fracking goes into production, Ms Finocchiaro is going to have a pretty hard time keeping her word.
As for the thousands of jobs for Territorians, the construction of big fly-in-fly-out workers’ camps by the gas companies doesn’t augur well for that to occur.
All in all, it looks as if fracking isn’t going to be of too much benefit to the NT, but we’ll be left with the mess to try to clean up afterwards.
So much for any hope of honouring climate change commitments!
Australia will end up being one of the largest contributors of greenhouse emissions in the world, with a ruined environment to show for it.

The Territory: It’s a gas!
The SREBA draft report can be commented on by the public until February 14.
It is supposed to put in place environmental procedures and protections once fracking goes into full production.
Since fracking is already under way, albeit at the “exploration” phase, it’s really too little, far too late.
As far as I can tell, there are no limits to how many wells can be drilled for exploration, so it seems that the gas companies can go on drilling to their hearts’ content and keep putting production wells in place without having to worry about the environment, as long as the wells are called “exploration” wells – we all know there’s no difference.

Yirara: Rebellion and failure or meeting a challenge?
It has been interesting to see comments from people who obviously have little experience in dealing with the educational situation in the communities.
Jeff has hit the nail on the head with his description of the charter flight situation. Where I was, charter planes often flew away empty, having cost about $8000 to bring in, because the intended passengers were off on some social or cultural outing, or because the parents, supposedly at the airstrip to say goodbye to their children, kept yelling at them in language until they all got off the plane.
Many Indigenous parents really don’t want their children to go away. If the young ones go and see the world outside, there’s always the chance that they won’t come back and that marks the end of the tribe.
Sally may be right in saying that all children have the right to an education, but how it’s currently done is not necessarily the best way for it to happen with Indigenous students.
The grouping of students into formal classrooms overlooks the cultural requirement for certain skin names and tribal groups not to be together, and the expressed outrage at the sexual contact between male and female students denies the reality that girls in the communities are married at a very young age, usually by the time they are 14 or 15, so for them to be looking for a partner at the ages of 10 to 13 is only to be expected.
Until there is a cultural shift in attitude on both sides of the equation, the whole Indigenous education system is a black hole for taxpayers’ money, and little is likely to change.
Putting teachers who have no experience with Indigenous culture into a classroom full of Indigenous students is a recipe for stress-related compensation claims – more taxpayers’ money down the drain.
However, how the teachers are in-serviced in cultural awareness is currently woefully inadequate. Often, the Indigenous instructors hired to provide an insight into cultural practices are not of the same tribal background as many of the students, so the information being provided might be relevant to only a small group.
Aboriginal people are as different from each other as the French and Germans, and many of them share the same animosities towards their neighbouring tribes as some of the European countries.
It isn’t appropriate to ship them in from multiple communities to a central location and expect that they will all “get on”.
“The Gap” that white politicians keep talking about is only a gap viewed from the white perspective – from the Indigenous perspective, there isn’t any gap – there are just annoying requirements that interfere with the way they might prefer to live.
Education as it is managed now only works if the aspirations of the end products include jobs and financial security.
Those aren’t the priorities for most Aboriginal students, who know that they will go back to a community where their chances of getting a job are about zero.
That also needs to change – sit-down money handed out through welfare and mine royalties has all but destroyed the communities.
For the unemployed, there is little to do other than drink and gamble, and the sit-down money provides the wherewithal to do just that.
The lack of banking services in communities, and the need to spend any money before it can be skived off by the hangers-on, means that every time there is a mine royalties distribution, the communities’ kids are dragged out of school and disappear for several weeks until the money is spent.
They might come back, or they might end up enrolled in another school, or not enrolled at all for a while. Teachers can’t perform miracles, and they can’t teach empty chairs, so it’s no surprise that many of the students who end up at Yirara are woefully ill equipped to deal with a secondary education situation.
The reluctance to face reality and actually address the issues does no one a service, not the students or the teachers.

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