Health professionals’ letter to the Prime Minister – in support of NT paediatricians

Jun 25, 2023

Read and sign the open letter here:

Thank you for your support of our campaign. Please scroll down to sign.

This is an open letter to the Prime Minister, for health professionals and students supporting NT paediatricians in their stand against the devastating health impacts that will likely ensue from fracking in the Beetaloo Basin. This letter requests that the Prime Minister and his government undertake extensive health impact assessments for the proposed fracking of the Beetaloo and the Middle Arm development. We also ask that the government rescind current financial support for gas processing at the proposed Middle Arm development.

All health professionals are welcome to sign below: doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and students. 

For more about the campaign please see


Dear Prime Minister,

We write as health professionals from all across Australia who support the Northern Territory paediatricians in raising concerns about the health impacts of fracking and the expansion of the gas industry in the midst of the climate crisis. The proposal to frack shale gas in the Beetaloo Basin and construct a gas processing hub at the Middle Arm Precinct in the centre of Darwin Harbour poses serious threats to the health and wellbeing of our children and our communities, both in the Northern Territory and throughout Australia. These serious health risks arise due to the direct impacts of fracking and the exacerbation of climate change.

Direct health threats arise when air, soil and water are contaminated by pollutants known to cause disease. These pose a risk to communities living and working near fracking operations or processing plants. This would include the population of Darwin should gas processing at the Middle Arm Precinct proceed. These risks are both immediate and longer-term. Air pollution can disperse widely from gas operations and contains multiple noxious substances including ground level ozone which is harmful to humans, and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that is associated with increased asthma exacerbations, heart attacks, chronic lung disease, cancers and death rates.

Studies have shown that communities living near fracking operations have higher rates of childhood cancer, pregnancy complications and respiratory conditions. There is growing evidence of negative health impacts in populations with exposure to heavy metals, carcinogens, and other toxic chemicals used in fracking, processing gas, and producing petrochemicals.

Gas fracking fuels climate change – the defining health challenge of this century. Your government has recognised climate change as a primary threat to the health and wellbeing of Australians. The Beetaloo Basin project has the potential to increase Australia’s total CO2 emissions by 20% leaving Australia unable to meet its emission reduction targets. This profound increase in greenhouse gases will fuel global warming and impact the health of all of us. Northern Australia is particularly vulnerable to temperature rises and is at risk of becoming uninhabitable in coming decades.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that “we are on a fast track to climate disaster” and called for every country to end licensing and funding of new oil and gas projects. We must urgently transition away from fossil fuels including gas, to avert catastrophic climate change.

Because the decision to fund the Beetaloo/Middle Arm project poses unacceptable health risks to local communities, and is incompatible with a safe and liveable climate future, we ask that you:

  • urgently reconsider your decision to subsidise gas processing at the Middle Arm Precinct.
  • intervene to prevent gas fracking in the Beetaloo Basin, acknowledging that the emissions cannot be fully offset.

The Academy of Child and Adolescent Health acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.