By ERWIN CHLANDA
A simple road can clearly be a very different thing to different people.
For Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Dan Robins the Morrison Government $217m handout to the NT yesterday “will yet again subsidise the polluting and expensive fracking industry using public funds with a ‘gas roads’ package”.
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the works will commence this month and be completed by June 2021, “improving safety and supporting jobs right across the country”.
Infrastructure development is something CLP Senator Sam MacMahon “very, very passionate about” and road safety is “another passion of mine”.
And NT Minister Eva Lawler wants “to make sure that the Northern Territory is the comeback capital in Australia she wants “to see jobs for locals in the Northern Territory”.
She said in press conference at Humpty Doo: “There’s two big announcements. One is around infrastructure dollars for roads in the Sturt Plateau area.
“So whether it’s an oil and gas industry – but it’s also industries like the cattle industry in the Northern Territory – those roads are beneficial to the community as well. So we welcome dollars that go into roads in the Territory.”
Mr Robins says the spend “is the latest in along list of subsidies being used to prop up the destructive fossil fuel industry by Territory and Federal governments.
“No one is asking for this – it’s little more than a waste of Australian taxpayer money to meet the demands of politicians within the government who are ideologically wedded to fossil fuels.
“It’s little surprise that this announcement was made by two National Party MPs (Mr McCormack and Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt) while Scott Morrison is on vacation.
“If the gas industry is so profitable why do they need millions in handouts from us taxpayers?”
“In the Territory, about 70% of our roads continue to be dirt, so any dollars that we can gather that we can work with the Federal Government around strengthening, widening, improving our roads in our remote communities,” says Minister Lawler.
There was no mention of the Outback Way, the east-west connection through Alice Springs getting the odd dribble of funding.
Meanwhile the Federal Government is investing a further $173m into the Beetaloo Basin shale gas reserve, according to the ABC.
It quotes Minister Pitt as saying the basin was “expected to be one of the best basins in the world for gas” and the Government’s continued financial support was critical to Australia’s economic recovery.
Developing the gas reserve could contribute up to 6,000 jobs in the Northern Territory.
PHOTO ABC News, Jane Bardon. Part of the Beetaloo Basin.