Frackman: Anti-Fracking Activism in Queensland
Directed by Richard Todd (2015)
This documentary concerns “accidental” anti-fracking activist Dayne Pratsky, a Queensland farmer who refused to allow Halliburton to frack for coal seam gas on his farm. When his neighbors’ kids started getting sick with headaches, rashes, and nosebleeds, he organized a grassroots campaign to pressure the government to either ban or properly regulate fracking.
What impressed me most about the film is its similarity to our experience here in Taranaki. Fracking began here about 25 years ago, though the number of wells increased exponentially when skyrocketing oil prices and new horizontal drilling technology increased its financial viability.
As in Australia, foreign oil and gas companies moved into Taranaki with no notification or consultation of local residents. Likewise, in both countries farmers agreed to one or two wells and were suddenly surrounded with 10 or more. Taranaki residents living adjacent to wells are experiencing the same nosebleeds, headaches, rashes (and cancer), as well as the smoke and benzene smell of 24/7 flaring, the deafening noise of drilling and heavy truck traffic, water contamination with toxic chemicals, and atmospheric venting of methane gas and carcinogenic benzene.
The film depicts Pratsky eventually joining forces with Drew Hutton, founder of Australia’s Lock the Gate campaign. Hutton helped us start our own Lock the Gate campaign in Taranki nine years ago. He helped Pratsky organize an inspired protest action in which scores of farmers blocked Halliburton’s access to their fracking rigs with pickup trucks.
Faced with the reality that he couldn’t expose a wife and family to the health risks of living in an industrial fracking zone, Dratsky eventually allowed Halliburton to buy him out and left his his farm.
He remains as active as ever in the anti-fracking movement and supports his former neighbors seeking similar buyouts. As in Taranaki, Queensland farms covered with fracking rigs are virtually impossible to sell on the open market.
Link to Dratsky’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Frackman-Dayne-Pratzky-141386222547945/
Anyone with a public library card can view the film free on Kanopy: https://pukeariki.kanopy.com/video/frackman
To sign up type “Kanopy” and the name of your local library into your search engine.