The threat of shale gas fracking

Despite its agricultural, cultural and natural values, the unconventional gas industry has targeted this region for extensive shale gas extraction from beneath the Great Artesian Basin.

The revocation of the Channel Country's river protections by the Newman Government in 2014 removed the certainty of river protection many pastoralists in the region had sought for almost two decades.

Pre-election commitments by then-Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to restore such protections were welcomed - but hopes were then dashed.

In May 2015, the newly-appointed Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, announced that new areas of the Channel Country would be put out to tender for unconventional gas exploration.

Exploration tenders for 11,000 square kilometres of the Cooper and Eromanga Basins were opened up to multi-national companies without consultation with the region’s Traditional Owners, local beef producers or the broader community.

In the lead up to the 2017 election, the Palaszczuk Government recommitted to protecting the rivers and floodplains of the Channel Country from unconventional gas mining - but Minister Lynham continues to release new areas to exploration.

The local community is still waiting on the delivery of that commitment.

Shale gas mining on the rivers and floodplains of the Channel Country could irreversibly damage the local landscape and the communities and industries that rely on it.

To access shale gas in the Channel Country, wells would need to be drilled and fracked multiple times. This requires huge amounts of water which can only come from the Great Artesian Basin -  the lifeblood of the grazing industry.

Well failure is a significant risk through blowouts and leakage and can contaminate soil and water.

Contamination from fracking chemicals and substances naturally present in the shale pose a serious risk to the grazing industry, particularly organic producers.

Every gas well requires a well pad, an all-weather road and a pipeline and at times a storage pond. This infrastructure can divert water from its natural flow path and is susceptible to flooding when placed on the floodplains.

Traditional Owners have reported a lack of care and respect for important cultural sites by gas companies in NSW and other parts of Queensland.

Western Rivers Alliance shares many Australians’ desire for regional economic development, new income streams and employment opportunities in Outback regions. However, this should not come at the expense of existing local people and their industries.

Click here to download The Risks of Unconventional Gas Mining for Land, Water & Life report.