Politics

Young Indigenous Leaders Are Rallying Against Fracking On Gomeroi Country. Here’s How To Help

They're protesting across the country on Thursday, and they want supporters to turn out to show solidarity.

Young Gomeroi will lead protests across the eastern coast of Australia on Thursday, to protest the fracking of their country in northern NSW.

The Gamil Means No movement is also highlighting the risks to farmers and other settlers on their land, as well as criticising the government’s lack of consultation and respect for processes which include traditional owners in decision making.

The protests will be taking place at 5pm local time in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne’s city centres and at 3pm in Canberra.

Gamilaraay Next Generation member Tameeka Tighe said she hoped it would help make others aware of what was happening on her country.

“At the moment there are a number of mines that are destroying our country, the Shenhua mine and Santos with gas fracking.

“It’s destroying sacred sites across Gomeroi country, it’s impacting on our wildlife and will cause damage to the Great Artesian Basin which will have a great impact on the rest of the country as well.

“It feels like a never ending battle. It’s something we’ve had to do continuously since 1788. You would think in the year 2020 we wouldn’t have to do these things but we do.”

She said that Gamilaraay Next Generation’s demands were for Santos to frack off, and for the state and federal governments to abolish flawed Indigenous heritage protection laws which didn’t do enough to protect their culture.

Gomeroi man Nathan Leslie said his people only wanted what was best for their country, the people living on it, and the rest of Australia.

“Us Gomeroi people are worried about the agriculture stuff,” he said. “A lot of the farmers out there rely on that water. They use bore water.”

“[Santos’ fracking] is going to poison a whole lot of people’s livelihoods. It’s all connected. There’s a whole lot of science behind what the traditional owners are saying in regards to the protection of water.”

Mr Leslie said one of the flawed acts they wanted abolished was the federal act, which Environment Minister Sussan Ley used to deny heritage protection for the Djab Wurrung directions tree.

“The lawmakers aren’t listening to what the farmers, people, and traditional owners are saying,” he said. “It gets tricky around this native title business as well.

“[Santos] has been able to bypass all these mechanisms put in place to protect country.”

Gomeroi people want to be consulted and spoken to by the government as equals at the least, Mr Leslie said, so reconciliation efforts could continue. As is, he said governments were increasingly damaging their standing in the eyes of Indigenous communities.

Ms Tighe said police had threatened to take them to court to stop the Sydney march, but a NSW Police spokeswoman told Junkee they’d decided not to and would instead work with the organisers of the rally to make a COVID-safe environment.

Ms Tighe appealed for any supporters of Indigenous sovereignty and the Gamil Means No movements to attend the marches.

The Sydney protest will be at Martin Place at 5pm. Melbourne’s will take place at the same time at Parliament house and Brisbane’s will be outside the Santos offices at 32 Turbot Street at 5pm Brisbane time.

Canberra’s action will be at 3pm outside federal parliament.