Push for fracking to begin in the Territory
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.
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.