Gunner Government must honour promise to end public cash splash for frackers

Published: August 25, 2020

Protect Country Alliance is calling on the newly re-elected Territory Labor Government to honour its pre-election promise to stop using public money to prop up the economically unviable fracking industry.

In response to a PCA fracking score card sent to all parties prior to the election, Territory Labor secretary Anthony Brereton responded “yes” when asked whether a re-elected Territory Labor Government would “ensure no future public funds or subsidies are given to fracking companies - no taxpayer money to prop up fracking”.

Responding to the scorecard, Mr Brereton also said a re-elected Labor Government would strengthen laws to protect water in the Territory and ensure fracking companies were liable for compensation, and face harsh penalties for any new pollution caused by its activities.

PCA spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said he looked forward to Labor fulfilling these promises, as well as its promise to finally implement all of the Pepper Inquiry recommendations.

“Unfortunately what we saw with last term's Labor Government was an unwillingness to fully implement these recommendations, and to bend the truth in an attempt to claim recommendations had been implemented where they simply had not," he said.

“As it stands, and contrary to Pepper Inquiry recommendations, Territory pastoralists are potentially liable if a fracking company contaminates underground aquifers while operating on a pastoralist’s private property.

“Fracking companies are also able to store massive amounts of wastewater in open air tanks, again in direct contradiction to Pepper Inquiry recommendations.

“Crucially, the Pepper Inquiry raised questions about the revenue flow from the gas industry and net benefit to the government, and noted that the industry should not receive taxpayer funded subsidies. 

“The re-elected Territory Labor Government must immediately stop using public funds to support the fracking industry and its infrastructure. More than $100 million in public handouts have already been wasted in a vain attempt to prop up this dangerous, polluting, and ultimately economically unviable industry in the Territory.

“In order to maintain faith with the community the NT Government must now redouble its efforts to follow the 135 recommendations of the Pepper inquiry and this includes the Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) principles which are the supposed guiding principles in government decision making on this issue.

"It is vitally important that the Strategic Regional Environmental Baseline Assessment (SREBA) is carefully implemented before the final risk assessment, as per recommendation 4.6, is conducted.

"The Pepper recommendations require transparency around decision making and process and this has not been forthcoming to date and needs urgent attention otherwise the communities faith in government and these industries will be further eroded from its already low base with significant social consequences.

"We look forward to seeing a comprehensive plan for the offsetting of carbon emissions and note that the principles of ESD must be evident in these decisions. We are also looking forward to seeing waste management and disposal policies that meet the principles of ESD."

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