Media Releases - 25 August 2023

Qld government flooded with thousands of submissions for protecting the Channel Country

Tens of thousands of people from across Queensland and the country have voiced their support for protecting the Lake Eyre Basin rivers and floodplains of the Channel Country from any new oil and gas upon the close of the Palaszczuk Government’s consultation period.

The consultation period for the government’s Lake Eyre Basin Regulatory Impact Statement has been open for 12 weeks and closes today, Friday 25th August. During which over 22,000 submissions were made in support of the strongest option of protections for the rivers and floodplains—to ban new oil and gas.

The Channel Country rivers and floodplains are amongst the last remaining desert rivers and floodplains left on Earth. They sustain and support an abundance of rare and unique species, tens of thousands of years of rich and diverse cultural heritage as well as a sustainable agriculture and tourism industries.

The end of the consultation period follows 8 years of the Queensland government promising to protect the Channel Country at the request of Traditional Owners, regional communities, scientists and environmentalists. All the while allowing oil and gas companies to continue to apply for exploration and production licenses across the sensitive floodplains.

Submissions received by the Queensland government will now inform the Palaszczuk Government’s final decision on the future of the region.

Queensland Campaigns Manager for the Wilderness Society, Hannah Schuch, urged the government to use this opportunity to make good on their promises to protect the Channel Country rivers and floodplains.

“It’s the clearest, now more than ever, that Queenslanders and people from across the country want to see these precious rivers and floodplains protected from new oil and gas.

“The Channel Country rivers and floodplains are of local, domestic and international significance and deserve the strongest protections possible. It’s heartening to see so many people supporting Option 4 of the Regulatory Impact Statement—to ban any future oil and gas.

“Thousands of people have seized this opportunity to make their voices heard and protect the Lake Eyre Basin from destructive and extractive industries that, if allowed to expand, would drain the life out of these exceptional desert rivers and floodplains. We know that when community voices are heard, we arrive at better outcomes for both nature and people. The government must now listen to what people are crying out for in these submissions—no new oil and gas on the Channel Country floodplains and river systems.”

“The sustained health of these rivers and floodplains is essential not only for the ongoing survival of wildlife, cultural connection and regional communities but for them to thrive. And to allow the expansion of any new oil and gas would go against the government’s responsibilities to nature, the climate and regional communities’ desires.

“It would irreparably damage the cultural heritage Traditional Owners and the wider Australian community hold dear.

“People come from all parts of the world to visit this world-class landscape, to carve it up for oil and gas with roads, wells and pads would erase a whole section of the local economy.”

Note: total submissions calculated based on those received from supporters by Wilderness Society, Western Rivers Alliance, Lock the Gate, Queensland Conservation Council, BirdLife Australia and Protect the Bush Alliance and delivered to the government. It does not include the many submissions made through the government portal and other individual submissions from graziers, scientists, and stakeholders organisations.

For interviews with Hannah Schuch, Queensland campaigns manager for The Wilderness Society, contact Rhiannon Cunningham, media adviser, on 0419992760 or [email protected]