Like you, we love our magnificent Top End waterways, and none are more special than the crystal clear thermal pools of Bitter Springs in Elsey National Park. Fringed by woodlands and palms, the blue-green colour of Bitter Springs is due to the limestone in the Tindall aquifer. Water from this part of this aquifer flows from deep underground as far south as Daly Waters, before discharging into Bitter Springs, and then into the Roper River. This is also the aquifer where incredible new species of stygofauna have been discovered by CDU scientists.
But Bitter Springs, and the mighty and free-flowing Roper River, are at risk from the Gunner Government’s plans to strip back our water laws.
Only strong action by Territorians can stop this. Take action today.
A few weeks ago Territorians were celebrating a massive win for our water, when we managed to convince Minister Natasha Fyles to overturn the Acting Water Controller’s decision to gift a licence to NT Land Corporation to take 10 billion litres per year from this aquifer for an agricultural development at Larrimah. The NT Land Corporation didn’t want to actually use the water, but to on-sell it to large developers, for profit. We argued that this was unlawful, in addition to pointing out that there was simply not enough water in the aquifer to supply this development sustainably. The Water Resources Review Panel, and ultimately Minister Fyles, agreed with us, highlighting a laundry list of problems with the original decision.
Instead of fixing what is clearly a broken system – the Gunner Government is doubling down. It is weakening the law to ensure that NT Land Corporation gets the water they want for the speculative Larrimah development, and its other massive agricultural development across the Northern Territory, including at Wildman River and Keep Plains. And that’s not all they’re planning to do.
We’ve got one week to act - join the Territorians taking action today
In May 2021, the, the Gunner Government introduced legislation called the Statute Law Amendment (Territory Economic Reconstruction) Bill 2021 (‘TERC Bill’) which would overcome Minister Fyles’ decision and enable NT Land Corporatino to get the water it wants. Hidden among the seemingly harmless changes to different bits of legislation are some major changes to the Water Act that will allow water speculation for profit by developers like NT Land Corporation, give more power to the Water Controller, and pave the way for new dams with reduced public scrutiny. You can read more about what we said when the TERC Bill was introduced here.
This is ad-hoc policy on the run, and is inconsistent with the scheme of the Water Act and the water needs of all Territorians.
Stand up against weakened water laws by signing our petition today
This shocking law is being rushed through without any proper public consultation or scrutiny, and may be passed as early as 10 August. Not only that, the Gunner Government is hoping to strip back more of our water protections with two Environmental Laws Omnibus Bills that could be introduced as early as August this year.
These laws must be stopped, starting with the TERC Bill.
Sign the petition calling on Minister Lawler, Minister Uibo and Minster Fyles to bin the TERC Bill, and stop the introduction of the Environmental Laws Omnibus Bills.
Our water laws are broken and the Gunner Government wants to make them worse by gutting the Water Act.
Ask the NT government to stop these amendments, do their job and protect our water, not profits for private companies.
Together we can hold decision makers accountable.
By signing this petition you are providing Environment Centre NT with your details. We will use these signatories to provide Minister Lawler, Minister Fyles, Minister Uibo and the Gunner Government more broadly with a list of supporters.
Photo credit: K Lusk.