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Victory for community as Keith Pitt’s appalling behaviour renders Empire fracking grants void

Protect Country Alliance wholeheartedly congratulates the Environment Centre NT on its hard fought victory against Resource Minister Keith Pitt’s foolish decision to grant millions in public funds to fracking company Empire Energy’s subsidiary Imperial Energy.

With the Environmental Defenders Office, the ECNT took Mr Pitt to the Federal Court and argued that he had failed to make proper inquiries into a range of matters before granting Imperial Energy $21 million for its NT fracking program.

Today, the Court ruled in the ECNT’s favour, finding the government’s decision to enter into the contract with Empire Energy was legally unreasonable, because it occurred while legal proceedings were underway*. The contracts are now considered void.

“This decision exposes the appalling and reckless behaviour of Mr Pitt, who arrogantly approved the grants despite an active legal case and thus breached common law model litigant obligations,” said Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Dan Robins.

“This reveals yet again that the Morrison Government’s rush to throw billions in public money at gas giants is blatant corporate welfare that undermines our democracy.

“This case also opens the door to a range of future legal challenges against government ministers who fail to act in accordance with the law when making decisions about fracking projects.

“Thanks to the tremendous hard work of the ECNT and Environmental Defenders Office, a line has been drawn in the sand.

“Keith Pitt’s decision to spend taxpayer money on the fracking industry was always questionable, and now, thanks to today’s ruling, we know he made a grave error in the eyes of the law.

“Territorians don’t want to see public money wasted on fracking projects that will threaten groundwater, that are opposed by Traditional Owners, and that will drive the climate crisis and ever more terrifying extreme weather events.”

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