By ERWIN CHLANDA
Opposition Leader Michael Gunner (pictured) is dodging questions about his position on fracking while Chief Minister Adam Giles has announced that he will be making a decision on the gas pipeline in less than three weeks.
That means Mr Gunner has little time left to put on notice potential investors in the project: What he will do about the controversial process should Labor with the next election?
If he bans fracking, as Labor has suggested it might, he would need to be frank with people poised to invest an estimated $1.2b in the pipeline before the project actually gets under way.
The NT Mining Minister is empowered to refuse the renewal of a production licence, without risk of litigation, even if all conditions of the permit have been met, as the Alice Springs News Online reported on August 20. Licenses are issued for five year terms.
It is understood that Labor’s position on fracking is to place a moratorium on it. For what period and pending what action is not clear. The party apparently supports the construction of a pipeline.
What the pipeline will carry if a government feels it has to ban fracking is not clear.
The Opposition now has an opportunity to form a policy that isn’t “wishy washy,” says Arid Land Environment director Jimmy Cocking.
“There is a risk of the pipeline being a fracking pipeline.”
He says there needs to be “clear, concrete climate policies about renewable energy generation”.
The Opposition should be “true to their word on fracking and look at any avenues at their disposal, look at engaging broad sections of the community,” says Mr Cocking.
Tanya Hall, from the Frack Free Alliance, says Mr Gunner “needs to clarify his position as soon as possible”.
She says in Central Australia there are 20 people actively working for the alliance, 200 are on the list of supporters and Territory-wide, an estimated 3000 people are active in the campaign.
The Alice Springs News Online has contacted Mr Gunner’s office several times since 9am on October 19, seeking an interview. It has not been declined but neither has it been granted.
By ERWIN CHLANDA