$226 million government subsidy to NT frackers while gas takes charge of information program to Aboriginal communities

The Commonwealth Government is pouring $226 million of public money into subsidies for the NT gas industry, says a submission by the Australia Institute to a Senate inquiry.

These massive public subsidies confirm the findings of the NT Fracking Inquiry that large scale fracking in the NT is unlikely to be commercially viable and will never contribute significantly to the NT budget or employment in the Territory.

Key findings:

  • Proposed Commonwealth subsidies to develop the Beetaloo basin total $225.8 million, including $50 million of exploration grants given directly to gas companies.
  • The Fracking Inquiry found that the industry would fail to commercialise without further public subsidy, implying that the development of Beetaloo could cost the Australian public decades of subsidies.
  • Modelling for the NT Fracking Inquiry predicted employment creation at between zero and 524 jobs over the long term. By contrast, the $225.8 million in proposed federal subsidies could fund the salaries of around 800 nurses in the NT for the next three years and generate immediate benefits.
  • Conflicts of interest are emerging over managing the gas industry, with information provision to Aboriginal communities being led by gas industry alliance GISERA, rather than independent scientists. This is contrary to NT Government policy and presents great risk for traditional owners and their land.

“Subsidising oil and gas fracking is the last thing governments should be doing from both an economic and climate perspective,” said Rod Campbell, Research Director at The Australia Institute.

“The gas industry will generate little, if any, increase in jobs for Territorians, while directing this amount of money to health and education sectors would provide immediate benefits to the public.

“By subsidising fracking without the proper implementation of the Fracking Inquiry recommendations, the Government is disregarding the safety of Territorians, their water resources and their land.

“Despite the clear recommendation of the Fracking Inquiry that Aboriginal communities should be provided with information from an “independent, trusted third party”, the NT Government has appointed the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) to this role.

“As the name suggests, GISERA’s members include Santos, Origin and most gas companies in Australia.

“GISERA should be removed from this position immediately and replaced with genuinely independent researchers.”

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