Activists like to try to portray resource companies as bullies – despite the ongoing evidence that they themselves are commonly the source of vitriolic attacks.
We have mentioned this in the past. And we have reason to do so again this week, in the context of the Northern Territory Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing.
Experienced Federal Court Judge, Honourable Justice Rachel Pepper was on the end of what was described as an “hysterical attack” by Darwin-based Lock The Gate representative Naomi Hogan.
And its wasn’t just Judge Pepper – it was also her panel of scientists and experts conducting the fracking inquiry, as well as Origin Energy and the NT Government – on the end of Ms Hogan’s conspiracy accusations.
In a triple-barrelled attack, Ms Hogan claimed Judge Pepper and her panel were guilty of a cover-up intended to deceive Territorians, that Origin Energy had lied to the inquiry and that the NT Government had to be investigated for its role in the “cover-up”. The inquiry had to be scrapped and started anew, she railed.
Origin immediately rejected the claims and carefully explained the course of events and why Ms Hogan was wrong. The Government was unmoved.
What had so infuriated Ms Hogan? The mistaken belief that a detail in the history of a test well had been deliberately omitted in evidence given to the Inquiry by Origin Energy, and that the Panel members and Government somehow colluded to allow this cover-up in the draft final report published in December.
Local and national media reported the rebuttal of this latest spurious LTG claim and its outright rejection by the Panel, supported by a reiteration of the timeline of evidence submissions to the Inquiry.
As usual, there was no willingness on the part of LTG to set the record straight.
There has been no subsequent correction or admission of error since LTG published its wildly over-reaching claims.
Much damage, ofcourse, has already been done. Unidentified, but prolific social media activist entities were quick to republish the “cover up” and “evidence tampering” accusations on Twitter and Facebook. Thousands have now viewed them. One Tweet even referred to the “many lies included in the NT Fracking Inquiry report”.
While nonetheless deplorable, this behaviour came as no real surprise. Only a week ago we pointed to the likelihood of activist disgruntle being on display in the final stages of the Inquiry hearings now underway.
Gas industry representative, APPEA’s Matt Doman, was understandably unimpressed by the LTG attack, labelling it a “hysterical beat-up”.
The Inquiry hearings conclude next week. A final report is anticipated by the end of March.