New political party Territory Alliance has used a turbulent session of Parliament to announce it will ban fracking in the Northern Territory if it wins the August NT election.
Leader Terry Mills flagged the party’s surprise new policy in Parliament on Tuesday morning immediately after the chamber noted the anti-corruption watchdog’s findings about Speaker Kezia Purick, who has resigned her position.
The policy sets the party apart from the Labor Government and Country Liberals Opposition, which both support development of the NT’s onshore gas reserves through hydraulic fracturing.
In the statement, Mr Mills said the decision was based on “widespread community concern” and said the economic case for fracking had become unviable.
“There is no social licence for fracking in the Northern Territory,” Mr Mills said.
“Under a Territory Alliance government no more production permits will be issued, existing exploration licences will not be renewed and current operations [will be] subject to tough community and environmental safeguards.”
The party’s policy document cites concerns about water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions and declining investor support for gas projects.
Mr Mills had previously said he was “not enthusiastic” about fracking but supported the onshore gas industry’s development in the short to medium term.
Territory Alliance ‘desperate’ before election: CLP
In Parliament, Mr Mills accused Labor of betraying voters who thought they were promised a ban on fracking at the last election.
But prior to the 2016 election, Labor did not promise a ban on fracking.
It promised a moratorium on fracking while a scientific inquiry took place.
Both Labor and the CLP have promised to implement all the recommendations of that scientific inquiry, which found the risks of fracking could be managed, but are yet to outline plans to offset the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.
CLP leader Lia Finocchiaro dismissed the pre-election change in position by Territory Alliance as a “desperate” bid for votes.
“Gas is an important part of our economic future going forward and what Territory Alliance need to do is explain to Territorians how it’s going to fill the gap in jobs that the gas industry would have provided,” she said.
Matt Doman from the gas industry peak body, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, said the announcement was “extremely disappointing” and put jobs and investment at risk.
“It flies in the face of the [scientific inquiry’s] key findings that any risks associated with onshore gas development and hydraulic fracturing can be managed by effective regulation — which the Territory has in place,” he said.
But Shar Molloy from the NT Environment Centre said she wanted more detail on the commitment from Territory Alliance and stronger election policies from all sides of politics about using the Northern Territory’s renewable resources to drive the post-pandemic economic recovery.
“Going forward with fracking puts at risk our water, puts at risk our climate and it’s certainly questionable whether it’s even going to bring any economic benefit to the Territory, whereas very clearly pursuing a renewable economic recovery will,” she said.
This content was originally published here.