PM IN THE NT TO START GAS FIRE

Sunday Territorian - - FRONT PAGE - HAY­LEY SORENSEN and MATT WIL­LIAMS

PRIME Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull has a sim­ple mes­sage for the Gun­ner La­bor Gov­ern­ment re­gard­ing on­shore gas de­vel­op­ment in the Ter­ri­tory: “Get on with it”.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian yes­ter­day, Mr Turn­bull said “Aus­tralia needs more gas, the Ter­ri­tory needs more gas and the NT needs more jobs”.

“(Michael Gun­ner) drag­ging his feet over the de­vel­op­ment of big on­shore gas re­sources is let­ting down the Ter­ri­tory and the na­tion,” he said. Mr Turn­bull said de­vel­op­ing the Ter­ri­tory’s on­shore gas in­dus­try was cru­cial for Aus­tralia and the NT’s fu­ture as it would gen­er­ate thou­sands of jobs.

“If you’ve got cheaper gas and af­ford­able en­ergy you will at­tract busi­ness,” Mr Turn­bull told the Sun­day

Ter­ri­to­rian. “You’ve got so much go­ing for you in the Northern Ter­ri­tory. You are right here on the doorstep of Asia, surely what you want to have is as much cheap en­ergy as you can get.

“You’ve got a big op­por­tu­nity here in the NT.”

Mr Turn­bull said con­cerns about frack­ing were largely un­founded. “It’s be­ing used right around the world. The con­cern about frack­ing is that you will im­pact on the water ta­bles and water re­sources to the detri­ment of the en­vi­ron­ment or the cat­tle in­dus­try here in the NT so you have to make sure it doesn’t do that,” he said.

“The bot­tom line is as long as you’ve got the ge­o­log­i­cal and en­gi­neer­ing work done prop­erly you can do it with­out im­pact­ing the water table be­ing used by oth­ers.”

The Prime Min­is­ter said there was huge un­met de­mand for gas in Aus­tralia.

“If you look at what’s driven Amer­ica’s man­u­fac­tur­ing resur­gence it has been cheaper gas,” Mr Turn­bull said.

“The NT has a huge op­por­tu­nity with de­vel­op­ing the Bee­talo Basin and ... the time has come to get on with it. It’s in the Ter­ri­tory’s in­ter­est and it’s in the na­tional in­ter­est.”

Mr Turn­bull made a fly­ing visit to Dar­win to de­liver a speech to party mem­bers at the CLP's an­nual con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

In front of a friendly crowd, Mr Turn­bull said: “We know that over­seas in­vestors and joint ven­ture part­ners are keen to team up with lo­cal com­pa­nies to ex­plore and de­velop the Top End’s min­eral and gas re­sources.”

“Busi­nesses want to in­vest but to do so they need poli­cies that en­able ex­plo­ration and de­vel­op­ment; favourable poli­cies that will de­liver in­vest­ment, jobs and even more op­por­tu­ni­ties to the peo­ple of the North.”

Mr Turn­bull kept his fo­cus on en­ergy and away from other hot but­ton is­sues in the NT in­clud­ing GST re­dis­tri­bu­tion and fed­eral in­vest­ment in de­vel­op­ing the north ini­tia­tives.

He touched briefly on the party’s em­bar­rass­ing elec­toral wipe-out in the NT last year, and said he was con­fi­dent the party would be “back big­ger and bet­ter than ever” by the 2020 elec­tion.

A re­view cat­a­logu­ing the CLP’s own goals pre­sented to its ex­ec­u­tive last week rec­om­mended the party “rein­vent” it­self while re­main­ing in­de­pen­dent of the Lib­eral and Na­tional par­ties to win back trust.

The NT Gov­ern­ment im­posed a mora­to­rium on frack­ing for on­shore gas af­ter it won last year’s elec­tion.

An in­terim re­port into an in­quiry held into frack­ing in the NT was handed down in July. A fi­nal re­port is ex­pected to be handed to the gov­ern­ment later this year, which will help de­ter­mine whether or not the mora­to­rium will be lifted.

Picture: JUSTIN KENNEDY

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull with CLP pres­i­dent Shane Stone dur­ing yes­ter­day’s party func­tion

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