Deal with Origin against council policy?


In the two months since council meetings have gone online, there have been only two questions from the public, both of them submitted to the end of May meeting.


One came from the Netball Association’s Steve Menzies, asking for a reduction in the payment of sports facilities fees, due to reduced access to the facilities under Covid-19 restrictions.


The other came from Janet Gregory, a resident of Alice Springs and also a Traditional Owner for the region near Elliott where Origin Energy are currently fracking for gas.


This is against the wishes of local landholders, she says.


Ms Gregory, supported by the Territory Frack-free Alliance, took the initiative to submit her question via video.


Although Zoom technology would have supported the sharing of the video, officers instead chose to transcribe it.


Ms Gregory noted that council spends  $100,000 per year with Origin Energy to partially heat the town’s swimming pool (most of the demand being met by solar). She expressed her concern that the deal with Origin undermines the Council’s support of a fracking moratorium to remain in place, its policy since January 2018,  and its own Climate Action Plan


The question was taken on notice. Alice Springs News yesterday asked Council CEO Robert Jennings for an update. He said council is still looking into the matter.

Right: The town pool’s gas usage, purchased from Origin Energy, reported to council 16 March 2020.

We will keep readers posted.


On Mr Menzies’s question, Mayor Damien Ryan moved to cancel all sports facilities fees until 30 June 2021, while also cancelling the dollar for dollar matching that council usually provides. This motion was carried.

The next full council meeting is expected to be held ‘in real life’ in the council chambers.

– Kieran Finnane



  1. There’s no gas from fracking yet (it’s still in exploration). So why is gas for the pool heating inconsistent? This gas must be from somewhere else.
    By this logic does the pool have to give up their BBQ too?

  2. Reasonable question, Mark. Supporting a business through purchase of their goods when you don’t support that company’s actions is inconsistent.
    We must do the best we can to send a message to Origin that continued exploration for fracking is not acceptable and one of the most effective ways of doing this is by where we spend our cash. So yes, the gas BBQ would have to go too.
    I’d like to see the pay back calculations for going some form of additional solar heating for the pool.
    With $100k per year spent on gas it would be likely that there is a more cost effective way of heating the pool, and council saving money (i.e. your rates) is something we can all get behind, regardless of your opinion on fracking.


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