LETTER TO THE EDITOR
We are extremely disappointed that a Federal grant program of $50m to fast track fracking has now passed through the Senate, with both major parties supporting the money, while the Greens and cross bench voted to disallow it.
The grant program is subject to an ongoing Senate inquiry.
The interim report of this inquiry urged Federal and Territory governments to review their consultation processes for obtaining informed consent from traditional owners after evidence that some traditional owners were not consulted.
The grant process has been referred for audit into its first come first served structure, which has allowed Empire energy, a company with close ties to the Liberal Party, to be awarded $21m of the $50m pool.
The process is also subject to a legal case from Environment Centre NT, who are arguing that the minister didn’t exercise due diligence by failing to examine the impacts of fracking in the Beetaloo Basin on climate change and the financial risks of investing government money in new gas at a time of transition away from fossil fuels.
The Senate Inquiry had provided ample evidence to justify the Senate blocking the money, and it was infuriating to see the major parties allowing it through.
The main beneficiary thus far, Empire Energy, currently has nine employees and is paying no Australian tax. This should have been ample information to justify disallowing this money.
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy asked her Labor colleagues to vote against allowing the grant but Labor voted with the government.
Hannah Ekin, Arid Lands Environment Centre