'Fracking pipeline – road to regional inequality'


p2142-Jimmy-CockingLETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – We are concerned that statements by Federal Industry Minister MacFarlane will drive intensive shale gas fracking across Northern Territory basins and into the Kimberley in WA.
The recent comments lending support to a proposed 1000km, $1.3 billion gas pipeline from Alice Springs to Moomba in South Australia could link Territory and Kimberley gas fields to the national grid, driving ever more exploration and fracking across the region.
This proposed pipeline not only carves through the iconic red sand dunes of the Simpson Desert but will likely fuel invasive shale gas fracking across the Northern Territory and into the Kimberley.
The Territory and Federal Governments are acting as agents for the gas companies. The employment benefits will only be short-term. The profits will go to shareholders with the risk being carried by the groundwater dependent communities of NT and WA.
This is the failure of federalism – the routing of the regions.
NT Chief Minister is quoted in [a recent] article stating that the Federal Government has proposed to underwrite the plan if it is deemed “uneconomical”.
This gives a huge incentive for rent-seeking companies to capture the domestic and international gas market with governments picking up the short-fall.
The findings from the NT Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry have yet to be reported, but unfortunately it seems that the Territory  and Federal Governments don’t care either way.
Jimmy Cocking (pictured)
Director, Arid Lands Environment Centre


  1. The Franklin River was left to run free of Tasmania’s Hydro Electric Corporation(HEC)Grid during Bob Hawke’s prime ministership, not because it was an environmental issue, but because it was pointed out that the taxpayers of Tasmania would be subsidising industry by a substantial increase in their electricity bills, while industry was promised low tariffs.
    The industry carrot was supposed to ease the high unemployment to which that State has long been exposed and which is still an issue, so the environmental/industrial/employment conflict persists.
    If the Federal Government is to underwrite this proposed pipeline, it would be interesting to see financial transparency. Perhaps, the Chief Minister can comment?

  2. Unfortunately it is most unlikely that a $1.3 billion gas pipeline from Alice Springs to Moomba in South Australia will ever be built and it certainly won’t be happening soon.
    Massive reserves of gas would have to be discovered to justify the cost of the pipeline and nothing like that has been found in the NT so far.
    Gas is green energy compared with coal and the conversion of power stations to gas on a national basis would go a long way towards reducing emissions. Personally I don’t have a problem with a gas pipeline going through the vast expanses of the Simpson’s Desert.

  3. Those with memories of the Whitlam era may well remember the Francis Xavior Connor plan to network Australia with gas pipelines from east to west and North to South, and to finance the dream with Arab oil money via an international arms dealer named Yashyogi. There is the precedent to follow.
    Seems like history repeats itself and perpetuates pipe dreams in the desert. In the meantime 10 or 12 km (read 2 to 3 million $) of upgraded road sits to the south east of Santa Teresa with a traffic density of around two or tree cars a day waiting for the massive oil traffic to flow, and the Plenty, Tanami and Mereenie look more and more attractive to visitors. NOT!


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