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HomeIssue 4Fracked gas our only hope: Northern Institute professor

Fracked gas our only hope: Northern Institute professor

p2301-Rolf-GerritsenBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Saying go for it to the “gas boys” is Chief Minster Michael Gunner’s only choice for dealing with the massive Budget deficit.
This is the view of Alice Springs based Professor Rolf Gerritsen (pictured), from the Northern Institute.
He says the NT’s dependence on its share in the national GST does not provide certainty: “Until growth resumes and spending goes up we will face problems,” he says.
The $55m increase in the Budget in locally raised taxes is a “drop in the ocean” but revenue from gas, obtained largely by fracking, is the only significant future source of government income available.
“I think that, even if they said let the gas industry rip now, it would still take two years to feed into government revenue.
“The real case for the gas industry is that it would immediately increase employment and so inter-state immigration, which would slow the erosion of our share of General Purpose (GST disbursements) funding.
“It is an unpalatable option for a Labor Government, with the Greens on their left, who are trying to shut down the economy, but there is not much else to create wealth and get the Budget back into balance.”
Prof Gerritsen says the major tax source available to the NT Government is the payroll tax but raising it does not seem to be an option in the current economic climate.
Mr Gunner will have to stop “doubling the tradies’ subsidies. He will need to make the hard choices, do something serious”.


  1. For someone who has argued the case for governance reform cogently in the past, this is a disappointing capitulation on many levels by Rolf Gerritsen.
    Saying “go for it” is precisely the wrong approach here and validates so much that is wrong about Territory self-government in 2017.
    Right now the NT needs a Chief Minister with a cool head who will stand up to the gas lobby and the vision-lacking Federal Government and their inconsistent rhetoric.
    Undoubtedly Mr Gunner is facing pressure to give the keys to the Territory to big gas companies, but representing the decision he faces as based upon “gas royalties are the only thing that will save us” is a disappointing effort.
    Surely Professor, any student that presented this argument in an economics class would barely receive a PASS. Surely such an simplistic analysis is not worthy of any Credit or Distinction?
    Surely we can envisage a more strategic, multi-sector economic future for this great part of Australia?
    The NT has plenty of ways it can position itself for a prosperous future without becoming a fracking free for all.
    Perhaps it is time for our academics and leaders to help provide the people with a clear picture of the choices we DO have.

  2. This view is outdated, tired, well repeated and totally incorrect.
    The one industry that will make the NT awesome on every level is the MASSIVE solar industry.
    By massive, I mean the following things:
    High Voltage DC interconnections to SA and Mt Isa.
    Start with Mt Isa connection.
    A Target 1 GW of installed capacity, rising to 5GW over the next years.
    Even a modest target of 600MW export driven solar capacity sent to QLD through a single HVDC line to Mt Isa would be hugely profitable.
    These two sets of projects would employ thousands and generate huge amounts of intra Australian export cash.
    Once the Chinese Sate Grid open their HVDC grid connection between Darwin and Malaysia / Singapore, then 10GW of export energy could be sold perpetually and also instantly.

  3. Massive Solar (Posted April 21, 2017 at 11:39 am): I don’t understand your logic at all. How would finding the vast funds required to build massive solar arrays in the NT (for generating 1 GW or 5 GW) and also for building “High Voltage DC interconnections to SA and Mt Isa” be a competitive investment for us?
    Have you costed the capital and recurrent costs of this infrastructure?
    Wouldn’t it be much more profitable for us (presumably you mean the NTG) to use its very scarce infrastructure funds to simply build solar arrays in the places where the demand is, if we want to get into the game of providing electricity to interstate customers?

  4. Nor do I understand Rolf’s overlooking of the tourism, education and health sectors as possible avenues for expanding the NT’s economy in coming years.

  5. I thought you believed in climate change Rolf?! Shame to see you out there plugging away for the gas companies.
    These “gas boys” must be making some big funding promises for academic institutions among others should the moratorium be lifted.
    Got the Northern Institute some press and no doubt on the radar of the gas lobby.
    We have other income generating sources like tourism, pastoralism, education, health and mining, not to mention the medium to long term savings from investing in renewables and local production of food.
    Methane is not the answer to the most disruptive trend that is climate change.
    We will need plenty of clean and trustworthy water sources to manage the impact of a warmer world locally. Fracking for gas screws us both ways.


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