By ERWIN CHLANDA
The NT Gunner Government’s decision to sacrifice an area bigger than Belgium to the fracking industry is stupid at a time when the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is so great, says the Protect Country Alliance (PCA).
Territory Mines Minister Nicole Manison (at left, with Michael Gunner at the Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar in Alice Springs in April) has a different way of putting it: “The Territory Government is creating investment opportunities for the resources sector with today’s announcement of a new acreage release for onshore petroleum exploration [in] the southern Georgina Basin.”
That’s 30,780 square kilometres between the Plenty and the Sandover highways north-east of Alice Springs (see map).
Minister Manison made the announcement yesterday in what PCA calls the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association “oil and gas love-in” in Perth.
She also invited the public “to make submissions regarding the suitability of the area for petroleum activity”.
That seems to be a bit of an afterthought, given her invitation’s enthusiastic tone: “Previous exploration work over the area includes 2D seismic surveys and 13 exploration wells, some of which have undergone hydraulic fracture stimulation [aka fracking] and testing.
“The Territory Labor Government are focused on securing investment opportunities for the Territory and creating more local jobs.
“We are leading Australia’s economic recovery and taking an important step to drive more regional economic development.
“In April, we announced record funding of $9.5m for more mineral exploration to drive more mining development and create more jobs across the Territory, with the funding to be on going.
“Our message is clear, if you are looking for the next resource development, come to the Territory,” says Ms Manison in a media release.
What’s clear to PCA spokesperson Graeme Sawyer is that releasing new tenements for oil and gas fracking represents “the opposite of what needed to be done to combat global warming.
“The NT Gunner Government is pouring petrol on a burning house.
“It is farcical this government claims to be acting to combat climate change, which will adversely impact Territorians more than those living in other parts of Australia, while at the same time swinging the gate wide open for fracking companies.”
Mr Sawyer, supported by the Central Australia Frack Free Alliance, quotes the International Energy Agency, which he describes as conservative, “only recently told the world that we cannot open new oil and gas fields if we want to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.
“Either Gunner Government ministers weren’t listening, or they don’t care.”