COUN­TRY­SIDE GRIEV­ING

Anti-frack­ing tour hears lo­cal sto­ries

Chinchilla News - - FRONT PAGE - Brooke Dun­can Brooke.Dun­[email protected]­chillanews.com.au

THERE’S no short­age of opin­ions on frack­ing and un­con­ven­tional gas, in Chinchilla more than most.

It makes the town a per­fect stop for those want­ing to learn more about the in­dus­try. And, af­ter a mora­to­rium on frack­ing in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory was lifted ear­lier this year, a group of con­cerned NT res­i­dents has stopped in Chinchilla to do ex­actly that.

Co-owner of tourism com­pany Eth­i­cal Ad­ven­tures, Robert Woods, stopped in town last Thurs­day to meet with lo­cals and dis­cuss the un­con­ven­tional gas in­dus­try, as he and oth­ers headed to Can­berra to lobby against the rein­tro­duc­tion of frack­ing in the Ter­ri­tory

Mr Woods said he had a back­ground in en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer­ing sci­ence and had worked for a min­ing com­pany, univer­sity and coun­cil in the past be­fore set­ting up Eth­i­cal Ad­ven­tures.

“I re­alised that they’re com­pro­mised and I don’t want to com­pro­mise,” he said. “So I thought ‘I’m go­ing to work in tourism’ and I thought ‘well here’s a per­fect fo­rum to ed­u­cate peo­ple and to reach a broader au­di­ence’ so the end game for us was to do some­thing like this, to be­come a proac­tive com­pany.”

The tour group had been driv­ing for al­most a week be­fore reach­ing Chinchilla, pulling up in dif­fer­ent towns to hear the ex­pe­ri­ences of those who’ve lived with the in­dus­try in Queens­land.

Mr Woods said in that time he’d had a shift of think­ing, see­ing many per­spec­tives on the con­tro­ver­sial topic.

“It’s not black and white as far as good and evil, there’s a lot of peo­ple in that mid­dle zone that are just dead-set grey,” he said.

“I’m talk­ing about peo­ple who are just worn out, there’s a sense of in­evitable doom, the ma­chine’s go­ing to roll over the top of them and they know­ingly suck it up and go ‘yep we’re go­ing to be af­fected but what do you do’ and the level of push-back, it just gets wiped away to the point that some peo­ple are re­ally scared to come for­ward.”

Jingili tra­di­tional owner and tour par­tic­i­pant Janita Sandy said see­ing the in­dus­try first-hand was like en­ter­ing a “dif­fer­ent di­men­sion”.

“We could feel the coun­try­side was griev­ing, and the sor­rows, it im­pacted us. We could feel it.”

Fel­low tour par­tic­i­pant and Abo­rig­i­nal woman Mary James agreed.

“I felt spir­i­tu­ally sad, it was so mov­ing to be quite hon­est. How can any­body live like that? Gaspipes on their land and yet peo­ple don’t have a say? My spirit was cry­ing out, mother na­ture, the en­vi­ron­ment, our spirit.”

The group reached Can­berra on Tues­day where they met with fed­eral MPs and Sen­a­tors dur­ing the fi­nal sit­tings of par­lia­ment.

PHOTO: BROOKE DUN­CAN

PEO­PLE POWER: Great Anti-Frack­ing Bus Trip tour mem­bers stop in Chinchilla.

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