Council: yes to protecting NT drinking water from fracking, no to declaring a climate emergency

Above: Water in the Todd River north of the Telegraph Station in June this year. The whole of the Alice Springs catchment should be a ‘no go zone’ to fracking, says the Town Council.

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

Last updated 27 August 2018, 3.49pm.

 

A push to get the NT Government to declare all Territory public drinking water areas as no go zones for fracking was unanimously supported by the Town Council last night.

 

The motion, moved by Councillor Jimmy Cocking, will now go to the November meeting of the Local Government Association of the NT (LGANT) for further debate.

 

At present, extraordinarily, the Alice Springs water control district, among others, is not so declared under the NT Petroleum Act.

 

Cr Cocking’s other motion that he hoped would go to LGANT, calling on the NT and Federal Governments to declare a climate emergency, did not fare so well, to the disappointment of a full public gallery.

 

Representing their views, judging by the applause, local resident Elliat Rich, during public question time, made an impassioned plea for council to join a movement that is gathering international momentum.

 

Right: Elliat Rich (middle) in the public gallery after her speech last night. 

 

Close to 1000 jurisdictions around the world have declared a climate emergency, almost all of them this year, she said.

 

(The very first municipality to male the declaration was the suburban council of Darebin in Melbourne in December 2016. According to the Climate Emergency Declaration site, at latest count 967 jurisdictions in 18 countries have followed:

 

“Populations covered by jurisdictions that have declared a climate emergency amount to 212 million citizens, with 47 million of these living in the United Kingdom. This means in Britain now roughly 70 per cent of the population lives in areas that have declared a climate emergency. In New Zealand, the percentage is even higher: 73 per cent of the population. It’s 24 per cent in Switzerland and Spain.”

 

In Australia 38 jurisdictions, including Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart City Councils and the ACT Government, have declared a climate emergency. Between the 38, they represent 3.7 million people, 14.7 per cent of the national population.)

 

Ms Rich congratulated council on its climate action plan but urged them to go further. Life might seem reasonably normal now, but record heatwaves and the wildfires of last summer are among the many signals of the gathering emergency.

 

More people have been citing climate change as a reason for leaving Alice Springs, she said, and this trend  is unlikely to change unless there is action to “future proof” the town.

 

The second part of Cr Cocking’s emergency declaration motion was about getting LGANT to establish and resource a working group to support local councils to develop and implement their climate emergency plans.

 

Left: The global climate emergency has seen unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic this summer, with NASA satellites observing a vortex of smoke  over Siberia after weeks of burning. Source: Forbes.

 

He described the Territory as “exceptionally vulnerable” to the impacts of climate change: rising sea levels and fierce cyclones in the Top End, heat waves in The Centre.

 

The NT Government has no climate action plan, he said, although he is hopeful that Emergency  Services will act on putting heat wave plans in place.

 

Darwin City Council has both a climate action plan and has declared a climate emergency (this was just last month).

 

Alice Springs Town Council, as one of the leading councils in the NT, should do the same.

 

He quoted Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s call to arms, that our house – the earth –  is on fire, which it is quite literally at the moment, in the Amazon and in the Arctic.

 

The Australian Local Government Association in June recognised the climate emergency (supporting a motion to call on the federal government to make the declaration). The LGANT meeting in November would give NT regional councils the opportunity to debate the issues and Cr Cocking called on his colleagues to support having that happen.

 

Applause from the public gallery.

 

Cold shower from Mayor Damien Ryan.

 

Right: Incinerated range above Standley Chasm last February. Photo from our archive. 

 

He was “disappointed” that Cr Cocking hadn’t “studied” LGANT policies, which include its support for every council to address climate change in their own strategic planning.

 

He said LGANT couldn’t be “prescriptive” in this area; some councils don’t have the energy or the finances to follow through on this, unlike “affluent councils” such as the Alice one.

 

Cr Eli Melky spoke in favour of the motion – adding council’s voice to other voices would “begin to roar” on this important issue.

 

It was then put to a vote which was split, four: four.

 

Mayor Ryan suggested that the motion be brought back to the next round of council meetings for further discussion. This would put it beyond the possibility of being discussed at the November meeting of LGANT, as notice of all motions is due this month. The next LGANT meeting would not be for six months (emergency, what emergency?).

 

Cr Melky urged him to exercise his casting vote. It was clear though that he would vote against the motion (convention is that the casting vote supports the status quo).

 

Mayor Ryan suggested he was “offering a hand of peace” with his proposal to discuss it further. If he used his casting vote, the motion would be off the table for three months.

 

His “hand of peace” became a “hand of friendship” that would work with Cr Cocking in the coming weeks to get his motion “to match current [LGANT] policies”.

 

Cr Cocking had little choice but to accept, which he did graciously.

 

 

 

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10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Philby
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Alex read my post. I said the “real science” not real scientists.
    The science as collected by the UN socialists when reviewed by independent scientists shows no warming, no rapidly rising oceans, the evidence shows up the Marxist warming scam. Your post was somewhat unhinged, old chap.

    View Comment
  2. Watchn
    Posted September 8, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Not sure what climate science has to do with vaccines.
    Thatcher supported supported global warming and reducing C02 emissions so she could build nuclear plants and not rely on coal miners working.

    View Comment
  3. Alex Hope
    Posted September 7, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    So who are the “real scientists ” Philby?
    Are they the same ones who insist that measles vaccine causes autism?
    And was Maggie Thatcher a closet Marxist because she was convinced by the evidence for anthropogenic global warming back in about 1980 (or was it because she had a degree in chemistry from Oxford and was trained to sift the through the evidence? )
    Even under another right wing prime minister (Theresa May) the Poms have become very serious about curbing their CO2 emissions.
    And what about all the high finance investors who are choosing to invest in renewable energy rather than coal to make electricity, are they all Marxist climate alarmists too?
    This is beyond party politics.
    I urge you (and our own climate-change denying government) to look beyond the ends of your noses and read it the writing on the wall!

    View Comment
  4. Philby
    Posted September 3, 2019 at 6:48 pm

    What an ignorant bunch of climate alarmist Marxists.
    The real science shows there has been no warming and CO2 is harmless.
    Rising sea levels is consistent with the rate of over 200 years and natural.
    Pacific islands are not going under but in fact over 90% have grown in size.
    Having a sand bar get washed away in a storm is natural.
    This “emergency” statement is just hogwash from socialist fools.

    View Comment
  5. Jenny Taylor
    Posted September 3, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Wouldn’t it be great if the climate crisis was all just hogwash and Eastside ferals! I for one would be so happy! Unfortunately for all of us, the science is terrifying and abundantly clear, and events are cascading even faster than science has predicted.
    So congratulations to Alice Springs Council on preparing a strong climate policy for our town, and on your unanimous vote in support of protecting Alice water from fracking.
    Don’t rest on your laurels now! In consideration of the very real threats to our future, make common cause with Alice residents and do everything in your power to meet this challenge. The urgency of the situation demands that you transcend factions and work together as fiercely and effectively as you can.
    A declaration of climate emergency is not hogwash or a PR exercise.
    It’s a practical way of initiating and focussing timely council responses to the threat we are facing.
    Cr Cocking’s motion to get LGANT to set up a working group to support regional councils in sorting out their responses to the climate crisis is a pragmatic step forward.
    Mayor Ryan’s point that small councils are less well resourced that Alice Springs Council is not an adequate argument against a working group – rather it’s an argument for assisting regional councils to take whatever action is within their power.
    Go for it Councillors!
    And Alice residents – support Councillors by expressing your concerns at the beginning of next ordinary council meeting, and by being present in the public gallery.
    It was great to see a full house at the last meeting, including families with young children who will inherit the consequences of the decisions being made now.
    Next meeting: 6pm September 30.

    View Comment
  6. Uncle Hucklebuck
    Posted September 1, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Fracking contaminates.
    STOP fracking anywhere, period.

    View Comment
  7. Ian Sharp
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    4-4, not bad for a first try, don’t give up Jimmy. Ride the bumps, ignore the knockers, time running out.

    View Comment
  8. Interested Darwin Observer
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 9:33 am

    I think the smartest thing to do in these times is simply do the exact opposite of whatever Darebin Council does.
    They have been hijacked by extremist who wish to “nanny state” their local government area. They ought to get on with being a service provider. As should the Alice Springs Town Council.

    View Comment
  9. LJ
    Posted August 27, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Perhaps we could declare a climate emergency for the Old Eastside. So many ferals producing copious amounts of hot air is certainly cause for … amusement
    If only virtue signalling was a marketable commodity your loyal readers could retire comfortably, preferably elsewhere.

    View Comment
  10. Watchn
    Posted August 27, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Climate emergency?
    Yeah not really. Just a bunch of hogwash to make people feel empowered.

    View Comment

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