Frackmail? $260 million NT deal rushed as fracking ban overturned

New research from The Australia Institute shows that, while treasurer, Scott Morrison rushed a $260 million deal with the Northern Territory Government through in a matter of days, at exactly the same time that the NT announced it would overturn its moratorium on fracking.

The report shows that even under FOI the Government has blocked access to numerous documents regarding the deal, including a letter from Morrison to the NT Government where he first committed to the $260 million in funding, sent three days after the moratorium was lifted.

The report outlines:

  • Morrison received his first Treasury briefing on the ‘GST top-up’ payment just four days after talks with the NT about revenue, where Morrison highlighted both GST and fracking.
  • Just six days later, the NT government decided to overturn its fracking moratorium.
  • Scott Morrison committed to the funding just three days after the NT’s fracking decision, in a letter to the NT offering the money that also referred to fracking. 

“There is reason to doubt the timing of this deal or that it was a coincidence, and this new information now raises big questions,” says Tom Swann, Researcher at The Australia Institute and report author.

“Why did Scott Morrison rush through this $260 million payment in just nine days and why did it happen at precisely the time the NT Government was making its fracking decision?

“The Australia Institute tried to get to the bottom of this with FOI requests, but they were almost entirely blocked, and what we did receive had heavy redactions.

“Treasury says the documents requested would reveal cabinet decisions or deliberations not already disclosed, which poses the question, what is the government hiding?

“While revenue is of course a concern for the NT, Commonwealth funding should be offered on the basis of need, not used as a form of leverage.”

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