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Cotton concerns for Top End water prominent for NT residents

Recent polling has revealed that the threat posed by large-scale cotton operations remains a key concern for Northern Territory residents - particularly in relation to recreational fishing along iconic river systems.


“Territorians have made it clear they have serious concerns about the threat posed by large-scale cotton projects in the Top End, which is shining through strongly in these new polling figures,” said Jason Fowler from the Environment Centre NT.

  • 69.4% of Territorians polled said that the cotton industry shouldn’t be allowed into the Territory until they fix up their mess in the Murray-Darling basin.
  • 60.8% of Territorians are opposed to the NT Government giving taxpayer funded subsidies to the cotton industry to establish operations in the NT.

“It’s clear that Big Cotton industry plans are disconnected from community expectations of healthy rivers, fishing and lifestyle. We know that fishing is an important part of the Top End lifestyle, with 63% of respondents stating that they use rivers in the Top End for fishing, boating or other recreational activities.”

“Territorians want a healthy future for our rivers, they care deeply about their health for water flows, fishing and are concerned about the industry push for large-scale cotton that would put iconic Territory rivers like the Daly at risk.”

“The spectre of reduced water flows, large-scale devastation and mass fish kills along the Murray Darling is a very real concern for NT residents, with 69.4% of respondents concerned about large cotton companies being allowed into the Territory before they fix the problems they have caused in the Murray Darling,” said Mr Fowler.

“We’re seeing continued industry calls for Territory residents to provide millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies to prop up large agriculture proposals driven by cotton. It’s deeply concerning to see big business push for more water from floodplains, more land clearing and a widespread disregard for maintaining healthy river systems.”

“We can’t let our iconic rivers like the Daly and Roper be degraded and destroyed as has happened to other rivers in southern Australia. It’s time for big business and government to start listening to Territorians and do more to look after the health of our rivers, lifestyle and the jobs that rely on their health now and into the future,” concluded Mr Fowler.

Polling commissioned by the Environment Centre NT and undertaken by uComms, who conducted a survey of 837 residents in the Northern Territory seats of Blain, Brennan, Casuarina, Daly, Drysdale, Fannie Bay, Fong Lim, Johnston, Karama, Katherine, Nightcliff, Port Darwin, Sanderson, Spillett, and Wanguri during the nights of the 10th & 11th February 2021.

Read final polling results here. 

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