Government Northern Territories urged to reject licence for largest private water allocation

In Australia’s Northern Territories, aboriginal title holders are alarmed that Fortune Agribusiness is seeking to use more than 40,000 megalitres of water each year for irrigation. The agribusiness is seeking the enormous amount of water irrigate what it says will be one of the country’s biggest fruit and vegetable operations.

If granted, it would be the single largest private water licence allocation in the Northern Territory, which does not currently have a water pricing regime and does not charge developers for water.

The application, by Fortune Agribusiness, has alarmed Aboriginal native title holders, while environmental groups are calling on the NT government to refuse what they say is a “speculative” licence.

“This project is occurring in the arid zone of the Northern Territory, which relies on groundwater to sustain human and all other life,” the NT Environment Centre’s chief executive, Kirsty Howey, said. “This particular project we’re concerned about because of its scale. There are water quality issues across central Australia. It is beyond the pale to be giving water licences to developers and ensuring they have rights to water when there are no water rights existing with respect to safe drinking water in remote Indigenous communities.”


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