Protect Territory Alliance has slammed the NT Gunner Government’s illogical obsession with fracking following the announcement it would adopt all 15 recommendations in the gas-baron led Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission’s interim report.
“Sadly, this is what we expected would happen when the Gunner Government named two frack fans, Andrew Liveris and Paul Henderson, as head of the Commission,” Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said.
Mr Sawyer said alarmingly, the report made reference to “liquids” that could be tapped in the Beetaloo Basin.
“We know that for many of these fracking companies, oil and gas liquids are part of their plan, and this report further proves it,” Mr Sawyer said.
“But the Pepper Inquiry never even looked into the extraction and transport risks for liquids from the Beetaloo.
“To see the Gunner Government pushing ahead with plans for a gas led economy is also especially ironic as it coincides with the release of the scathing Samuels Report into the failings of the EPBC act, which found ‘Australia's environment was getting worse under the laws designed to protect it’.
“This all makes it even more alarming given Mr Gunner wants to do away with due process and important checks and balances to ‘fast track’ assessment processes."
Mr Sawyer said a clearer example of EPBC’s failure could not be found than the example of fracking in the NT.
“The Gunner Government is encouraging the fracking industry to lay waste to Territory communities and the environment without even going through the necessary checks and balances,” he said.
“This frack-focused interim report and the Gunner Government’s poorly made decision to enthusiastically support it could mean environmental and social vandalism is unleashed on the NT with little to no regulatory oversight.
“We cannot allow this to happen, particularly for a destructive, polluting industry that has so far leached around $100 million of taxpayer dollars and hasn’t produced anything in return.”
The economics behind fracking, which were always shaky at best, make even less sense now. A massive drop in demand for gas internationally has meant companies in Australia and around the world are scaling back or cancelling gas projects entirely. Off the coast of Gladstone, LNG tankers are ‘steaming around in circles’ amid warnings the entire gas industry is at risk of collapse. And in the USA, the shale gas fracking industry has collapsed, with new bankruptcies reported daily.
There are also ongoing questions around safety. Andrew Liveris himself admitted in an interview with ABC Radio Darwin on July 10 that there has been a series of fracking related accidents in the USA. Mr Liveris mentioned a fracking related accident in Ohio. This was most likely in relation to a serious gas explosion that occurred in 2018 that created one of the worst methane leaks in history. In February 2018, an explosion at a fracking site in Belmont County, near the Ohio-West Virginia border, forced residents within a 1-mile radius to evacuate their homes for several weeks.
Meanwhile fellow reconstruction committee chair and frack-fan Paul Henderson probably isn’t the most perfect person to offer advice on the NT’s economy. It was Henderson who, when opening the INPEX Project in 2012 said, “This project will underpin our economy here for decades to come.” While NT gas has been sent offshore at record rates since 2012, the NT Government debt is set to reach $35 billion by the end of this decade.