Fracking opponents have reacted with anger after acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack today took further steps to fast track the Northern Territory's Gas Industry Roads Upgrades program.
A total of $217 million has been earmarked for the road upgrades, touted today to accelerate "enormous economic benefits of the Beetaloo Basin" by Mr McCormack and and Resources Minister Keith Pitt.
Mr McCormack reasserted the Morrison Government's position on shoring up energy supplies and preventing price hikes with its gas led recovery.
"Across Australia, we continue to roll out these types of major projects which lay the economic foundations for our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to enable the development of local industry, economic growth and job opportunities well into the future," he said.
Dan Robins, anti-fracking group Protect Country Alliance's spokesman, said Australian taxpayers should be outraged. "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," he said.
"It's as if all the environmental risks are pushed on the public while these private companies take all the profits and unwarranted government subsidies."
Keith Pitt, Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, said the upgrades are expected to support more than 400 jobs.
He further added the Beetaloo Basin has the potential to "transform the Northern Territory's economy, creating thousands of jobs and supply Australia's gas demand for decades to come."
It was a sentiment Northern Territory Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Eva Lawler said she shared.
"Our Government recognises the importance of regional jobs for Territorians. That's why we are investing in economic enabling infrastructure and upgrades to our remote roads including the $217 million with this announcement to upgrade the Buchanan Highway, Western Creek Road and Gorrie Dry Creek Road.
"Reliable supply chains are crucial for growing the Territory's economy by attracting new economic development and supporting our existing industries to grow in remote and regional areas. This investment will help make sure the Territory is Australia's comeback capital."
The upgrades will provide infrastructure to support gas development and other industries in and around the Beetaloo Sub-basin.
And according to Mr Pitt will support industry and business by providing more reliable freight links that will reduce the cost of doing business.
During a press conference in Darwin today, a plan to offset potential emissions from fracking activity - estimated to reach 117 million tonnes every year - could not be outlined in detail.
"Well, we've always got a plan," Mr McCormack said.
"We ensure that we are going to meet and beat our international requirements as far as reducing emissions. We always do that. I mean, that's a no-brainer. But I'll get Keith to add to those remarks," he said.
Mr Pitt defended his government's stand on climate change, reasserting Australia's target for 2030 of making a 26-28 per cent reduction in its emissions compared with 2005 levels.
"We will deliver on those commitments," he said, "and as we've said any number of times, we are on track to meet that 2030 target."
Mr Robins said today's announcement "shows complete disdain for the majority of Territory Traditional Owners, communities, and farmers who strongly oppose fracking in the Beetaloo Basin."
"Mr McCormack clearly dodged questions today about how the Beetaloo's projected carbon bomb could be offset - the government's own estimates show this could total 117 million tonnes per annum.
"This will have a devastating impact on the NT's environment, which is already suffering due to climate change and will hasten the world towards the worst case global heating scenario."
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