Conservationists have today issued a warning to Territorian taxpayers not to let the cotton industry use public funds to take hold in the Top End.

“We know that the cotton industry wants to establish large-scale operations in the Northern Territory.  If this is allowed to proceed, we’ll see bushland bulldozed and water extracted from already stretched supplies,” said Jason Fowler from the Environment Centre NT.

The call comes after news that NT Farmers Association have called for public funds to set up a cotton gin in the Northern Territory.

“It should be sending off alarm bells in everyone’s head that the industry is ramping up political pressure for $10 million of Territory taxpayer money to build a cotton gin in Katherine.”

“Territorians know that cotton kills rivers and want to keep it out of the Territory. We’ve heard the warnings from Traditional Owners, graziers and people down south on the reality of how cotton devastates river systems and destroys communities.”

“This is just the start. Once cotton gets established, the cotton industry and irrigators push harder and harder for more land and more water for more cotton fields.”

“Industry is touting a rainfed crop, yet their own documents state an ambition for 10,000s hectares of irrigated crops and further supplementary irrigation when the rains fail. Where is this extra water coming from?”

“There’s simply too much at stake. Commercial and recreational fishers, tourism operators and Aboriginal communities along the Daly River all understand that any attempt to let cotton take hold up here comes with the very real risk of killing our pristine and unique rivers.”

“What the Territory needs right now is sensible, sustainable strategies to build our future – not taxpayer dollars that will wreck our rivers,” he concluded.

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