Fracking probe boss gets facts wrong, says Australia Institute


p2410 Rachel Pepper 300LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Fracking Inquiry Chair Justice Rachel Pepper [committed] an egregious misrepresentation of the economics of fracking in the Northern Territory.
Submissions are closing on the inquiry’s draft report, which was welcomed by the gas industry and criticised by communities.
The draft report ignores its own commissioned research, which says there is “very high probability” that lifting the fracking moratorium would see the industry “fail to commercialise”.
The inquiry’s commissioned research says there is “low to very low probability” of a major industry developing, but this is completely ignored in the draft report.
The “very high probability” scenario would see zero long term jobs created in the Territory, while the “very low probability” development would see around 500 jobs created, according to the Inquiry’s commissioned research.
Despite these findings, Justice Pepper (pictured) claimed in a radio interview that fracking “had the capacity to create 32,000 jobs”.
Getting a figure wrong in an interview is understandable, but to be out by a factor of 60 on the best case scenario suggests the report commissioned by the inquiry had not been read, or the magnitude of possible gas industry employment was completely misunderstood.
The 32,000 figure didn’t come from nowhere. It’s right in the back of the consultant’s report and is an estimate of the extra “person years” of population a major fracking industry could bring. It has nothing to do with jobs.
The draft report also exaggerates job impacts, misrepresenting “job years” as full time jobs.
It seems the Inquiry and its staff have misunderstood their own economics report, or are just blindly repeating the mis-information campaign on jobs by the gas industry.
Either way, more care needs to be taken around economic results in writing and communicating the Inquiry’s final report.
Rod Campbell
Australia Institute Research Director
[ED – We invited Judge Pepper to reply.]


  1. And if it “failed to commercialize” then one could assume that the Territory people, through government expenditure, would again be paying to clean up the mess as has happened more than once in the mining industry.

  2. Well, I’d hope a justice in an important role like that would get her facts right!?
    One or 32,000 … well, to me, that’s quite a difference!
    Plus: Money isn’t everything! Health counts more and fracking is a definite and proven risk to our environment and therefore our health!

  3. Hard to get too upset about all the ruckus up your way.
    Down here in Mexico, The Garden State, we are locked out by the Green crowd from ALL land gas mining and exploration, fracking or conventional.
    Trillions of litres in a resource-saturated state.
    At the same time, our power stations are closing and our crazy left wing government is buying gas from Queensland for enlightened Lygon Street late-sipping Mexicans at inflated prices, producing the world’s highest household power bills out here in the Struggletown ‘burbs.
    China and its state-owned businesses must be counting the days until they have bought our natural resources from under our feet.
    They must be freaking laughing at our gas fracking stupidity.
    So look out, you lads and lassies in the Territory!

  4. Well, Mr Bell, what a load of fact free redneck nonsense. Your comment makes about as much sense as Minister Dutton’s claim that Melbourne residents are too frightened to go out to a restaurant for dinner for fear of African gangs.
    South of the border in Melbourne we have what the Economist Intelligence Unit ranks as the world’s most liveable city, not just this year but for the past seven years.
    Melbourne is growing faster than Sydney and will become Australia’s biggest city in the foreseeable future. House prices are high but are holding their own where other cities are forecasting falling house prices. If you are looking for a job, the message is “head for Victoria”.
    Sure electricity prices are high in Victoria as they are in virtually every part of Australia. But only around a quarter of our power prices are attributable to the total cost of generation including the cost of the fuels required. The argument that Victoria’s decision not to frack is the cause of high power prices simply does not stand up to scrutiny. People making this claim should do their homework. There is a vast amount of research into what has driven our increasing power prices. This research does not support the claim being made.
    On the other hand, Alice Springs depends entirely on its ground water resources. Without this ground water, Alice Springs cannot survive. That ground water is Alice Springs number 1 asset. You can understand that Central Australian people are nervous about any development such as fracking that could threaten our groundwater resource. And if the proposed fracking comes with only a marginal expansion of employment, why would we take the risk?
    Its up to Justice Pepper to defend her claims about employment creation and to the NT government to ensure that she does.

  5. It is easy to see how the gullible some sections of the public are when big business quotes big job figures using mirrors. 32,000 jobs? They got to be joking no matter what there explanation of this is.
    I do hope this fracking does never get the nod. Foreigners never care about the country they are raping.

  6. The Government usually says what it wants through expensive newspaper advertising. The people know what’s good. No Fracking.


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