LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – For any Territory government to sell or lease, and permit unrestricted exploitation of the Territory’s fresh water aquifers without any public consultation, without reliable and unbiased science, and deploying the utmost caution against long term degradation, would beggar belief.
But that’s a fate that Territorians now face from currently elected politicians: The Giles led Country Liberal Party and the Gunner led Labor Party.
I am talking about shale gas fracking. A report about it was prepared by Dr Alan Hawke. I have seen the terms of reference and I am familiar with the processes within the Giles government which led to the adoption of the report.
It is amazing that the Lock the Gate Alliance, in the poll it conducted this week, has ignored that there is a party in the NT absolutely opposed to fracking, namely us, 1Territory.
That’s a lot better than the arbitrary five year moratorium floated by the ALP, which the poll is obviously meant to be supporting.
We have been standing shoulder to shoulder with Lock the Gate. Their agenda needs to be questioned for not referring to 1Territory in its media release yesterday.
There was, to my knowledge, no process of independent expert review of the Hawke report nor any external professional or public review. All points to a process designed and executed in favour of a permissive outcome.
The report should not be relied upon for adoption of a policy in favour of shale gas fracking. If these issues are not dealt with now there could be a catastrophe later on.
The public is entitled to not just a copy of Dr Hawke’s report, but all his calculations, research and underlying methodology.
We must have not only science which is completely independent, free not only from actual bias, but also the appearance of bias. If there is any apprehension that bias has infected the process, it should be restarted.
This is too important for the future of the Northern Territory. At stake are our aquifers, our rural residential, pastoral and agricultural land, into the future … for example, cross contamination of aquifers and seismic activity.
In many parts of the world it is now accepted that fracking is a mistake of epic proportions, one which cannot be undone. This water is not now, and not ever, for the gas extraction companies, here today, gone tomorrow, to interfere with.
If 1 Territory gets into power and on closer examination, the process is found to have been compromised, shale gas fracking will be halted. There will be proper, independent, unbiased enquiry. The shale gas fracking industry is on notice.
Unless fracking is risk free, 1Territory will not permit fracking in our aquifers to occur.
1Territory will continue the development of the offshore gas industry that is planned.
Now that the INPEX offshore gas party is over, the Top End’s economy is in a parlous state. Small business, the Territory’s lifeblood, is feeling the pinch. Territorians can now see it’s the most mismanaged, poorly regulated major project ever to take place in the Territory.
We can thank Labor for bringing INPEX in the first place, but the reality is that the Country Liberal Government has made an absolute hash of its execution. Now the Giles led Country Liberal Government is saying the same thing about shale gas fracking in the Northern Territory and the benefits to be had.
What due diligence, other than relying on verbal reassurances of the frackers and their peak bodies, has the CLP Government conducted into the short and long term risk to aquifers from fracking operations?
Where fracking has been refused or rejected, what were the arguments or reasons, technical or otherwise? It is relevant to ask why can’t the fracking companies get a public license to frack in these other places. For what reasons were their exploration licenses revoked? Has it happened in Japan? Why? Has it happened in the United States? Why?
The following companies wish to frack in the Northern Territory: Central Petroleum, INPEX, Origin, Pangaea and Santos.
Each of them need to be asked to make full disclosure of their record. Have any of them ever had regulatory breaches, environmental damage, contaminated aquifers, well casing failure, chemical spills, chemical pond breaches, injury or death to humans or animals, no public licence, revocation of public license, triggered seismic activity, caused sink holes, had fines or court cases concerning fracking coal seam or shale gas in any Country, State or Territory in the world including in their own country of origin?
Labor’s Michael Gunner might think he is on a winner pulling a popular trick by calling for a moratorium if elected.
You forget Michael, it was your Labor party that approved exploration licenses in the first place in the Territory and your position is not in line with Labor’s position in other states or federally. Labor, nationally, is pro fracking.
President of 1Territory
[ED – Mr Earley advised he was born in Darwin and raised on the Roper River. He has a degree in economics and is a businessman.]
LETTER TO THE EDITOR