NT told to ‘get fracking’
THE Prime Minister has taken a swipe at the Northern Territory Labor Government over its moratorium on fracking. In Darwin for the Country Liberals conference last weekend, Malcolm Turnbull told the party faithful it was time for the ban to be lifted. He said the onshore gas industry in the Territory could play an important role in the energy security needs for the entire country.
“The Beetaloo sub-basin is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in Australia in many years,” Mr Turnbull said.
“This project has the potential to make a significant contribution to domestic gas needs as well as exports.
“But what is needed now more than ever is for the Northern Territory Government to remove its moratorium on development.” He said that unlocking the potential of the gas industry in the NT did not need to be at the expense of protecting the environment.
“The views of affected communities and the protection of the environment are vital.
“I understand that Labor is undertaking a review of extraction techniques but the answer is good engagement backed by science, not blanket bans.
“So, my message to Michael Gunner is - pull the trigger.
“Get on with it. Get on with it. The jobs, the investment, the opportunities that come with opening up 180 years of gas that you’re sitting on is endless,” Mr Turnbull said.
The Prime Minister’s call was met with a curt response by Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
In a statement Mr Gunner said the Prime Minister should stop using “bullying” tactics over gas and instead focus on addressing the loss of GST revenue the NT had suffered under the Turnbull government. Mr Gunner said that the NT Government went to last year’s election with a firm commitment to undertake a review into fracking and to place a moratorium on the industry at least until the review is finished. The conflict over fracking was the second time in two weeks that the Territory and Federal Governments have clashed over issues surrounding northern development. While making a “good” announcement recently about $8 million in funding for a high-tech biosecurity hub to protect the north in Darwin, Deputy-Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said that staff from a similar government facility in Victoria would move to Darwin.
“This facility at Berrimah will help us replace some of the work we are currently doing at Geelong,” Mr Joyce said.
“So we are moving jobs and work from Melbourne to Darwin.” However, a few days later Mr Joyce back-tracked on that statement following a “shocked” reaction from staff at the Geelong facility.
“We are expanding jobs to be happening in Darwin that otherwise would be happening in Victoria. The Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he had sought clarification from Mr Joyce about the jobs issue.
The politics aside, the new biosecurity facility is a win for the Northern Territory according to Mr Joyce and Territory Minister for Primary Industry Ken Vowles.
“The new biosecurity hub will be more than ten times PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED the size of the current facility and will house the latest technology in molecular diagnostics, a technique to diagnose and monitor disease and detect risk,” Minister Joyce. “This significant investment in biosecurity in the north under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper will support faster testing of potential biosecurity threats as they emerge. “This includes quickly separating local, sometimes beneficial, insects from exotic fruit flies that could devastate our horticulture exports.”
GAS INDUSTRY: Images like this shale gasfield in Green River Basin, Wyoming, in the United States is what the Labor Government will be trying to ensure doesn's happen in the NT.