Budget blowout widens to fund fracking industry expansion
The Protect Country Alliance has slammed the Gunner Government’s budget as a taxpayer-funded windfall for fracking companies, at the expense of Territory taxpayers and the environment.
“The Chief Minister is playing Robin Hood in reverse, stealing from the poor in the middle of a financial crisis to give to some of the wealthiest companies in the world,” said Graeme Sawyer, spokesperson for the Protect Country Alliance.
For all the talk of belt-tightening and cuts to community services to reign in the budget blowout, it’s the fracking industry Territorians have rejected that has seen the biggest handouts from the NT Government, including:
- A further $1M for gas development studies in the Beetaloo.
- Department Trade Business Innovation $820,000 gas taskforce for “forward work program”.
- An increase in spending on NT branding to attract resource development and export, despite a projected decrease in revenue from existing resource projects.
- Cuts to the Environmental Protection Authority, despite an increased role in regulation of the fracking industry and large increase in new gas assessments expected.
“This handout is a transfer of wealth from one of the most impoverished and over-taxed populations in Australia, to energy companies already raking in record-profits and paying next to nothing back to Australian communities on the resources they exploit”.
“They are using public funds to prop up companies to frack, pollute and trash our land and water resources for generations to come. In the same breath, the budget admits taxpayers will see zero benefit back in the form of taxes or royalties paid by these companies in the budget forecast period.”
“This budget recklessly rips money from the already under-resourced Environmental Protection Authority, despite new responsibilities for regulation of the fracking industry.
“At the same time it plans to burden its staff with the regulatory assessment of 15 new Environmental Management Plans (EMPs) for onshore fracking just in the 2019-2020 budget period.”
“Territory taxpayers are slugged some of the highest fees and living costs in the country. Yet it seems the Gunner Government would rather fund fracking pollution through handouts to gas companies than use it to support services and investment back into our communities who are suffering through the worst economic outlook in our history.
“The cost blow-outs to the public from the Gunner Government’s foray into fracking are a slap in the face, and a breach of the NT Fracking Inquiry’s recommendation 14.1, that ‘the Government implements a full cost-recovery system for the regulation of any onshore shale gas industry’.”
“It’s a disgrace and yet more evidence Chief Minister Gunner and his team can’t be trusted to put Territorians first.”