Push for frack­ing to be­gin in the Ter­ri­tory

The Western Star - - RU­RAL WEEKLY -

WITH the ink barely dry on the Sci­en­tific In­quiry into Hy­draulic Frac­tur­ing in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory panel’s fi­nal re­port, the NT Op­po­si­tion has called for the mora­to­rium to be lifted so that ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­ity may start in the com­ing months.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Gary Hig­gins said: “The com­pre­hen­sive body of work by Jus­tice Pep­per re­in­forces the op­por­tu­nity that a well-reg­u­lated on­shore gas in­dus­try presents to the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.”

“The Op­po­si­tion urges the La­bor govern­ment to lift the mora­to­rium and kick start the Ter­ri­tory’s econ­omy with a well-reg­u­lated on­shore shale gas in­dus­try.

“The re­port also con­firms that shale gas devel­op­ment would have sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits for the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

“The Op­po­si­tion wants the Ter­ri­tory to pros­per, as can be achieved with cer­tainty of pri­vate in­vest­ment and jobs in a well-reg­u­lated in­dus­try.

“The re­port has de­bunked many of the scare cam­paigns around this is­sue and it is now im­per­a­tive that the La­bor govern­ment makes a de­ci­sion to lift its mora­to­rium.”

There re­mains in the Ter­ri­tory a lot of op­po­si­tion to the Coun­try Lib­eral Party’s stance as the La­bor Govern­ment con­sid­ers what will no doubt be one of its defin­ing pol­icy de­ci­sions in this term of govern­ment. A re­cent poll con­ducted by The Aus­tralia In­sti­tute in the Top End fed­eral seat of Solomon found a “ma­jor­ity of Ter­ri­to­ri­ans sup­port keep­ing the frack­ing mora­to­rium”. The poll asked the fol­low­ing ques­tion:

“Cur­rently in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory there is a pause, or mora­to­rium, in place on hy­draulic frac­tur­ing for un­con­ven­tional gas, also known as ‘frack­ing’. Do you sup­port or op­pose keep­ing in place the frack­ing mora­to­rium in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory?”

The ReachTEL sur­vey of more than 600 res­i­dents found that 53 per cent sup­ported keep­ing in place the frack­ing mora­to­rium, while 38 per cent were op­posed.

Prin­ci­pal ad­vi­sor at The Aus­tralia In­sti­tute, Mark Ogge, said the re­sult was a clear win for keep­ing the mora­to­rium.

“De­spite a fe­ro­cious cam­paign from the gas in­dus­try and Fed­eral Govern­ment to con­vince Ter­ri­to­ri­ans to end the mora­to­rium on frack­ing, the ma­jor­ity still sup­port it,” Mr Ogge said. “When asked if they trusted the NT and gas com­pa­nies to im­ple­ment and en­force all 120 rec­om­men­da­tions of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory frack­ing in­quiry, 58 per cent of re­spon­dents an­swered ‘no’.”

The anti-frack­ing group Frack Free NT also claimed the fi­nal re­port did not ad­vo­cate that the mora­to­rium should be lifted.

“This re­port pro­vides no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for any im­me­di­ate lift­ing of the mora­to­rium or fur­ther gas ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­ity,” Lau­ren Mel­lor from Frack Free NT said. “It ad­vises a costly and com­plex pro­gram of work is needed to fur­ther un­der­stand the im­pacts this in­dus­try will bring to our wa­ter re­sources, cli­mate and pub­lic health.”

“Any in­dus­try that is the sub­ject of mul­ti­ple govern­ment in­quiries, wide­spread bans both at home and abroad, and re­quires 135 rec­om­men­da­tions to be en­acted should be a red flag to the Gun­ner Govern­ment not to pro­ceed. “The in­quiry found that the over­whelm­ing con­sen­sus from Ter­ri­to­ri­ans was that hy­draulic frac­tur­ing for on­shore shale gas is not con­sid­ered safe, trusted or wanted in the NT.” Tra­di­tional own­ers were also in agree­ment with the Frack Free NT stance. Frank Shad­forth, who is the owner of Seven Emu Sta­tion and a Tra­di­tional Owner of land in the Gulf re­gion cov­ered by gas ex­plo­ration per­mits, said that the on­shore gas in­dus­try would not bring the ben­e­fits many be­lieve. “The re­port is clear. Frack­ing will create just a hand­ful of FIFO jobs, but at the cost of our sus­tain­able in­dus­tries like cat­tle, farm­ing, fish­ing and tourism,” Mr Shad­forth said.

“Our in­dus­tries are the back­bone of the econ­omy and the fu­ture of the Ter­ri­tory and will be badly im­pacted if frack­ing gas fields go ahead.”

“We are call­ing on the Chief Min­is­ter to show real lead­er­ship and to put an end to the threat of frack­ing in our re­gion, for good.” The chair of the in­quiry, Jus­tice Rachel Pep­per, said the fi­nal re­port com­prises three sep­a­rate doc­u­ments: The Fi­nal Re­port (Book 1); the Ap­pen­dices (Book 2); and the Ex­ec­u­tive Sum­mary (Book 3). The re­port con­tains 135 rec­om­men­da­tions.

Jus­tice Pep­per said it rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of 15 months of work by the in­quiry, dur­ing which time the panel met 12 times; held 52 com­mu­nity fo­rums, in­clud­ing 37 in re­gional and re­mote ar­eas, and 15 in ur­ban cen­tres; con­ducted 151 pub­lic hear­ings; pub­lished 31 com­mu­nity up­dates; and re­ceived 1257 sub­mis­sions.

The fi­nal re­port of the In­de­pen­dent Sci­en­tific In­quiry into Hy­draulic Frac­tur­ing in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory can be found at www.fracking­in­quiry.nt.gov.au.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

BIG CALL: North­ern Ter­ri­tory Op­po­si­tion Leader Gary Hig­gins is push­ing for the mo­ra­to­rium on frack­ing to be lifted so hy­draulic frac­tur­ing can be­gin in com­ing months.

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