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Turtle Times December 2020

Dear friend,

From our staff here at ECNT and COOLmob, we wish all of our friends and supporters, like you, a happy and enjoyable end of year filled with celebration and health. Our office will be closed to the public from 4pm Friday 18 December until mid January. With three part-time staff members, we will post to our Facebook in the New Year which days the office is open in January. 

COOLmob have been undertaking native tree planting activities tied to an education session on reducing carbon footprints through lifestyle changes, and above is a photo from our planting day with O'Laughlin College. 


Message from the Co-Directors, Shar and Kirsty

It has been an incredible month for our new Co-Director, Kirsty Howey, with ECNT required to be on the front foot to respond to a number of troubling government proposals and decisions in the month of November. These will no doubt continue in the lead up to Christmas and into the new year.  

While Labor campaigned on a reasonably strong environmental platform - including commitments to zero-net emissions by 2050, environmental and mining regulatory reform, and a Territory-wide water security strategy – these promises have been tempered by renewed political rhetoric to develop the Territory out of its financial doldrums (worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic), “whatever it takes”.  

The Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission report has provided further ammunition for these aspirations, with ECNT concerned that what is in fact proposed is industrialisation of large parts of the Northern Territory (principally the pastoral estate), for cotton and irrigated agriculture, fracked gas, and associated polluting infrastructure (including a petrochemical plant and pipelines) in Darwin Harbour. Environmental regulation is conceived of as green and red tape, rather than necessary for protecting what we value in the Northern Territory. If realised, plans for cotton and irrigated agriculture in particular may entail the largest scale land use transformation in the Northern Territory’s history, aided by a piecemeal, poorly resourced and ineffective regulatory regime.  

Perhaps most concerning of all is the Northern Territory Government’s incomprehensible decision to approve the expansion at McArthur River mine, with no approved method of closure and by reducing the security bond against the advice of the Independent Monitor.

ECNT has been in a strong position to respond to these threats in November, via numerous media appearances and stories, multiple submissions on applications for development (water licences, land clearing), meetings with key stakeholders and bureaucrats, forging alliances with land councils and other Aboriginal organisations, and liaising with researchers for future collaboration on key environmental issues. 

We thank you for your continued support for ECNT, and look forward to working with you in 2021. For Shar and Kirsty's summary of the year ahead, please see our website.

Comment on City of Darwin's Climate Emergency Response

City of Darwin in a demonstration of leadership is the only Council in the Northern Territory to have declared a Climate Emergency, and they have just released their Draft Climate Change Response for comment by the community. This Response has 4 goals including:

  1. Promoting resilience and adapting to climate change
  2. Achieving net-zero Council-controlled emissions by 2030
  3. Supporting our community to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040
  4. Identifying economic opportunties 

Council is striving to achieve these goals through:

We strongly encourage you to take a read of the FAQ sheets and the Draft Response on the City of Darwin website and make a comment on:

  • How can we support those in Darwin worst effected by Climate Change?
  • What would help you and your Darwin family live better quality, lower emission lives?How important is climate change to you?
  • Will you support the City of Darwin's Climate Emergency Action Plan? If so, how?

See you tomorrow morning! 

Members, Territory Guardians, supporters & friends are invited to our family-friendly end of year breakfast. We'll be setting up a picnic space near the BBQ area, come down and join us for an update from the Director, the drawing of the Territory Guardian bike giveaway and to catch up with others in the ECNT community. 

Tomorrow morning,Saturday 5 December. Join us for a guided half hour walk from 8am or for brekkie from 8.30am across from the new gym area at East Point on the grass. BYO own coffee cup if possible. 

Full details on our website

Becoming a Territory Guardian, by setting up a monthly donation, is a great way to support the work of ECNT. We're a small non-for-profit organisation, and we rely on donors to ensure we can influence elected representatives and bring the community together to ensure positive environmental outcomes. All donations over $2 are tax-deductible.  

Thanks to Blue Cycles, Coconut Grove, we've been donated a road bike worth $750 to help us fundraise this year! Any Territory Guardian signed up by the end of 2020 so there is still time to go into the draw!

Food resilience and security for the NT

For the past 4 weeks, it's been our privilege to have Timothy Palmer, a Clean Technology, Sustainability and Environmental scientist from Flinders University in South Australia undertaking a placement with ECNT and COOLmob.

Tim is undertaking a project focusing on "Food Security and Sustainability in the NT" and writing a research report to hopefully lay the foundations for a dedicated Food Security Policy in the NT. The scope of the project is large and will focus on "Threats and Opportunities" to food security and sustainability, including sections on

  • Accessibility to healthy and affordable food in remote indigenous communities;
  • Food distribution during times of crisis such as cyclones, pandemics etc;
  • Sustainable agriculture, including responsible water and land use;
  • Encouraging households and communities to grow more of their own fruit and vegetables;
  • Recommending for leaders and stakeholders to adopt policies or strategies to deal with food insecurity, and to implement sustainable agricultural practices into the future. 
We'll be sharing his work with you once complete via our website.

Territory Economic Reconstruction Report

ECNT has criticised the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission (TERC) for putting forward a confused “Jekyll and Hyde” plan for the Territory’s economic reconstruction. While talking up decarbonisation of our economy, the TERC simultaneously takes the Territory backwards by decades by favouring fracking, increasing access to our precious water for irrigators, and promoting the industrialisation of Darwin Harbour via pipelines and petrochemical plants.

The Northern Territory has learned we have just experienced our hottest November since records began. Across the Territory, communities and country are experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change first hand. Two failed wet seasons and sweltering temperatures have led to widespread death of trees across the pastoral belt, drying aquifers and rivers, and worrying health impacts due to heat stress.

On the Environment Minister, Eva Lawler’s, own assessment, large parts of the Territory will become uninhabitable if action is not taken to stop climate change.

ECNT is very concerned that the fine print reveals a different and inconsistent plan for the Territory’s future: one that puts our precious water and ecosystems at risk and increases the impacts of climate change. The Gunner Government can’t have both: it has to choose between a just, decarbonised economy powered by renewable energy, or a polluting petrochemical and gas industry that scuppers any chance of decarbonisation.

Read our full media release on our website.

Author talk & fundraiser

Join us to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the completion of Australia's first scientific expedition by Ludwig Leichhardt through Kakadu, with an author talk from Dan Bashiera. Dan wrote the book, 'On Leichhardt's Path Kakadu 1845: Reflections Bushwalking a Time Tunnel' now in it's 5th edition.

Dan's work is a social history on Leichhardt's work, it asks why the then colonial government resisted supporting Leichhardt? 

This event is being run as a fundraiser for the Environment Centre NT, and you are welcome to grab a drink and bite to eat from the delicious menu at the Lucky Bat whilst listening.  

Tuesday 15 December, 6.30pm, The Lucky Bat. Tickets on our website.

McArthur River Mine

Minister Manison’s decision to approve McArthur River Mine’s Mining Management Plan (MMP) is the latest in a string of environmentally disastrous decisions by the Northern Territory Government in its flailing attempts to manage the unfolding impacts of the remote Gulf mine.

It leaves the McArthur River, and the livelihoods of current and future generations of Gulf residents, at risk.  It also leaves Territorians with an unfunded liability of hundreds of millions  possibly billions  of dollars if the mine packs up and leaves.  

Not only that, but the approval breaches the Northern Territory’s own mining laws.Environment Centre NT (ECNT) Co-Director Kirsty Howey said today: Minister Manison’s decision demonstrates nothing short of regulatory failure by the Northern Territory Government. This is a disastrous turn of events for Aboriginal residents of Borroloola who live downstream of the mine, the lands and waters of the Gulf region, and for the Territory as a whole.

The regulation of this mine by the Northern Territory Government is a national embarrassment. The mine revealed during its environmental impact assessment that rehabilitation and monitoring of the mine would need to continue for a minimum of 1000 years to keep the McArthur River and groundwater systems free from pollutants caused by acid mine drainage. Yet the Mining Management Plan approved by Minister Manison contains no closure plan, and no costings for its closure, rehabilitation and monitoring.  This clearly breaches the provisions of the Mining Management Act which require these matters to be included in any plan before being approved. As far as ECNT is concerned there is no current valid mining plan to authorise McArthur River Mine’s mining operations.

Read the full story here.  

Water mismanagement in the Northern Territory

Did you know that the Northern Territory Government does not charge irrigators for water?  ECNT featured in this Guardian article about the largest ever water licence application in the Northern Territory, and how we are squandering our most valuable resource.

 2019/2020 Annual Report

We held out AGM on 17 November, and our two Directors as well as the Cotton Kills Rivers campaigner Jason Fowler presented on the year ahead, and the 2021 theme of Water.

Take a read of our 2019/2020 Annual Report on our website

And welcome to our incoming Management Committee, with some new members. The 2020 2021 Management Committee members include Deborah Hall, Robby McKenzie, Lisa Howat, Louise Harrison, Dominic Nicholls, Michael Fonda, Grusha Leeman, Dave Liddle and Georgie McGee. 

Help us reach our 2020 fundraising goal... by buying an xmas card

Gift to your loved ones purposefully this holiday season by purchasing a set of cards from the Environment Centre NT.

Both the hard copy cards and the e-cards, as well as donation certificates are tax-deductible and help us reach our 2020 fundraising goal. 

Seabed Mining in the Top End

In March 2021 the NT Government will decide on whether to extend or lift the Moratorium on seabed mining, or to ban it permanently.  If allowed, seabed mining would devastate the Top End’s unique coasts and seas, culture, livelihoods, and fishing lifestyle. 

There was a huge community response to the NT Environmental Protection Agency (NTEPA) submission process. You can see the KTECH submission hereThe Territory community wants their coastal backyard protected from destructive seabed mining. 

We’re expecting a final NTEPA report soon.

Stay in the loop on or sign up here.  

Improve cycling in Darwin

The NT Government is investigating ways in which cycling safety on Bagot Road can be improved and has commissioned a planning study to improve cycling conditions including the development of concept design options.

The NT Government is also undertaking a review of the cycle and shared path networks in the major urban centres across the Northern Territory.

The project involves a strategic review that delivers recommendations for improvements, enhanced connectivity and network extension. Stakeholder and community feedback is essential to ensure the reviews consider user requirements.

You can comment on both these projects on the NT Government's Have Your Say website. You can also come along to the info night mentioned below in our upcoming events section. 

Behind the scenes

Lots of what we do to achieve our vision happens behind the scenes, and we've had some requests to share what we've been working on. Below are the submissions and media we've written over the past month:

Upcoming events & jobs 

Until next time,
Shar @ The Environment Centre NT
Authorised by S. Molloy, Environment Centre NT, 3/98 Woods Street, Darwin, NT 0801. 
We acknowledge we live and work on Larrakia country. We acknowledge the Larrakia people as the Traditional Owners of the Darwin region and pay our respects to Larrakia elders past and present. We are committed to a positive future for the Aboriginal and Northern Territory communities.

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