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The Frack Free NT Alliance welcomed the improved Terms of Reference for the Territory Fracking Inquiry announced today, saying they demonstrated that the NT Government is prepared to listen to the community, but raised concerns about the expert panel composition.

Belinda Quinlivian for Frack Free NT said “It has taken hundreds of submissions and many months of strong advocacy from communities and landholders across the Territory but we are pleased to see the Government respond and put in place a thorough inquiry.

“We congratulate Michael Gunner and his government for listening to the community and addressing the concerns raised in submissions, and for taking their responsibility to protect land and water resources seriously.

“We are, however, concerned that the Expert Panels consultation meetings appear to focus on a few major town centres, and we are seeking a commitment from the Panel that they will meet and hear from all communities that are directly under threat” she said.

Lauren Mellor from Frack Free NT said “The independence of the panel is paramount to gaining community trust, but there do appear to be a number of panellists who have worked for the unconventional gas industry which may create some perceived conflicts of interest.

“Pastoralists and Indigenous communities have raised concerns about the lack of panellists and expertise that understand the risks that industrial gasfields pose to their interests in lands.

“The Panel is also notably lacking economic expertise. The Inquiry commits to a cost-benefit analysis but does not seem to have the skills to deliver it, and therefore can’t properly assess the impacts of gasfields on other sectors like tourism or agriculture or the consequences of the current over-supply in global gas markets.

“We’re concerned that the overall balance is not right on the expert panel, although we welcome the calibre of the Chair in Justice Pepper.

“For this process to have integrity the Government must now give full effect to the moratorium so that it halts all land access negotiations and stops any approval for the Northern Gas Pipeline which would facilitate a fracked gas export industry in the NT” she said.

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