The NT’s Country Liberal Party is sticking with its electorally unpopular pro-fracking policy.
At its annual conference on the weekend, the CLP endorsed support for an onshore oil and gas exploration policy.
The decision endorses the position outlined by Opposition leader Gary Higgins during his Budget speech in reply and the recommendations contained in Dr Allan Hawke’s 2015 on-shore gas inquiry.
The Gunner Government has placed a ban on onshore gas development while an inquiry is being held.
“The Country Liberals have a history of developing the Territory economy, in contrast with Labor,” party president Shane Stone said.
“Labor and the unions are tearing themselves apart over on-shore gas – and the Territory economy is paying the price.
“Labor and the unions’ fracking moratorium is a needless handbrake on the Territory economy.
“The Hawke Report was very clear – the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively, subject to the creation of a robust regulatory regime
“The Country Liberals will work with communities to explain the benefits of on-shore gas development and measures being put in place to ensure it is done safely and sustainably.”
Country Liberals Central Council on-shore gas motion:
‘That Central Council endorse a policy of supporting an onshore oil and gas exploration and extraction industry in accordance with the following principles.
- · The industry being governed by world’s best practice and science-based regulations to protect agricultural, water and biodiversity values of the land.
- · That land owner/holder rights to negotiate and agree to access be enshrined in legislation
- · A royalty regime be established that returns benefits into the future for land holders, regional communities, the NT generally and encourages or facilitates future economic opportunities
- · The principle of a potential gas reservation policy also be referred to the policy committee for development to ensure future supply for NT power generation and industry development
- · That Central Council refer this motion to the policy committee where a policy paper can be developed along the afore listed principles for future discussion.’
The Territory Frack-Free Alliance immediately condemned the CLP’s stance.
“Despite claims the party has undergone a serious internal review and reflection of its disastrous defeat at the last election, it is clear CLP Leader Gary Higgins and the party still have a lot to learn if it hopes to reconnect with voters, rehashing the same unpopular fracking policy that cemented the party’s historic losses in key stronghold seats,” alliance spokeswoman Lauren Mellor said.
“For the CLP to have any hope of regaining the support of Territorians, it must stop lecturing and start listening on energy and economic policy. They can start by taking note of a recent poll showing majority support for a fracking ban in two key former-CLP seats, Braitling and Katherine and surrounding regions,” she said.
“The seats of Katherine and Braitling, belonging to the former Chief and Deputy Chief Ministers, both went to candidates running on a clear fracking moratorium platform, with strong frack-free votes helping to carry candidates over the line.
“With tried and failed policy ideas like this the Country Liberals are demonstrating just how out of touch the party remains with its former voting base.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also used the conference to call for the NT Labor Government to abandon its fracking inquiry and moratorium and ‘pull the trigger’ for onshore fracking gasfields.
“At a Federal level it appears the Prime Minister is suffering a similar case of denial about the abject failure of Australia’s foray into onshore gas. While Turnbull lectures Territorians about the benefits of fracking, we are acutely aware that this is the same Prime Minister presiding over an unprecedented crisis in the national gas market where Australia is producing more gas than ever before, yet prices have trebled in recent years, putting jobs and households under pressure.
This crisis is exacerbated by the Turnbull government’s refusal to effectively curb gas exports that are allowing companies to drive domestic prices sky high.”
“Shale gas produced in the NT would be some of the world’s most expensive, and would do nothing to bring down domestic prices. If its fracking policy is anything to go by the CLP appear willing to throw our pastoral, tourism, farming and fishing industries under the bus to support the big polluters. Hardly a new or winning electoral strategy, but one voters have shown they stand ready to reject.”