Time to get on with NT gas development

December 14th, 2017

A thorough scientific study of hydraulic fracturing has found it poses little risk to the Northern Territory environment.

This is no surprise – it is the second major study to come to the same conclusion in the NT in the past few years and the latest in a strong of a dozen or so conducted around the country.

The job now, is to lose no time in lifting the illogical and politically motivated moratorium on fracking in the NT.

That message was sounded loud and clear by the NT News and, separately, the Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan, following this this week’s announcement of the findings of Justice Pepper‘s fracking inquiry.

“Time to give fracking the green light,” read the editorial in the NT News.

The newspaper said that during the inquiry it had deliberately published arguments in favour of regulated development and those against any activity, no matter how well controlled.

“Sadly the process was hijacked by activists early,” it said.

“We reported statements and positions that infuriated those for and against, especially when they were called out for being wrong.

“Now we are taking a position.

“We are of the strong view that now the report is out, a majority of Territorians will support fracking under strict controls.”

The newspaper appeared to agree with Senator Canavan, when it said: “Fracking is the Territory’s chance to be a world leader in gas development and could help solve the national energy crisis.”

This has long been the stance of Mr Canavan, who is also the Minister for Northern Australia.

This week’s report outcome meant it was time for action, Senator Canavan said.

“It’s really important for our economy that we have access to affordable gas,” Senator Canavan said.

He was referring to the national economy, but in terms of the NT, he could not be more right. The NT depends on natural gas to power to entire Territory.  Without it, there would be no lights, no aircon, no power.

Senator Canavan also pointed to the importance of the economic activity which would accompany onshore natural gas development in the NT – and the potential for NT gas to be a part of the national supply solution.

Gas-dependent manufacturing businesses employed about 55,000 people, he said. About 10 per cent of their costs were related to gas.

The Pepper inquiry appeared to have reached the same outcome as the Hawke report in the NT in 2015, and others conducted in NSW, SA and WA, Senator Canavan said.

“It seems to have come to similar conclusions as others, which is good,” he said.

“But we’ve really got to get on with the job now.

“Jobs is what you need, investment is what you need, and this gas opportunity is really the next step for Darwin and the NT.

“I hope there’s no further delays because I think the Northern Territory needs an economic shot in the arm.”

And so does the nation, which would be a direct beneficiary of NT gas development, via a $1 billion pipeline planned to be built to connect the NT resources with the nation’s biggest customers –business and residential – on the country’s east coast.

The sooner this resource is developed and the pipeline connection made, the sooner a nervous manufacturing sector can begin to breathe more easily – and millions of residential customers can look forward to lower prices.

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