NT Labor members at odds with the government after calling for a ban on fracking in the Beetaloo Basin

NT Labor members at odds with the government after calling for a ban on fracking in the Beetaloo Basin

NT Labor members at odds with the government after calling for a ban on fracking in the Beetaloo Basin

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<p><figcaption class=Photograph: Loren Elliott / Reuters

Northern Territory Labor base members passed a series of motions over the weekend calling for a ban on fracking in the Beetaloo Basin and an end to subsidies to the gas industry, putting itself at odds with both the territory and federal Labor governments.

The former federal coalition government helped accelerate gas exploration in the resource-rich Beetaloo Basin about 500km southeast of Darwin, delivering tens of millions of dollars to fracking companies to incentivize exploration. .

The incentive scheme was part of the so-called “gas-led recovery”, which was pursued despite fears that exploiting Beetaloo’s gas reserves would create a “carbon bomb” and fail Australia’s chances of reaching the Paris climate goals.

Related: Work to support new fossil fuel projects that “pile up” economically and environmentally

The Albanian government supports the development of the basin, as does the NT government, according to which Beetaloo’s resources could drive “multi-billion dollar growth in the Territory’s economy”.

The motions put forward at the NT Labor conference on Saturday included calls for an “immediate ban” on fracking in the NT, a halt to exploration in the Beetaloo Basin, and an end to government subsidies to support the gas industry.

A motion, moved by Young Labor, asked to recognize that the progress of the Beetaloo project was an “indictment of the morality of the Territory Labor Party and is a direct result of capitalist greed.”

Another motion, moved by the Casuarina subsidiary, stated that the increase in emissions through the development of more fossil fuel fields, including the Beetaloo and Barossa offshore gas fields, was “incompatible with the sustenance of life as we know it. in the NT, in Australia and in the world “.

NT Labor women filed a motion asking the party to “oppose any further expansion or new development of any fossil fuel resource in the Northern Territory, including the Beetaloo Basin and the Barossa offshore gas fields.”

Other motions called for the development of a carbon reduction target for 2030 and an implementation plan and urged the government to follow a recommendation from the landmark Pepper survey on fracking, ensuring that no net increase in gas emissions occurs. greenhouse.

All anti-fracking motions were passed with very little opposition, according to multiple sources.

“There was no dissent. There hasn’t been anyone moving motions against them, “a Labor member attending the conference told the Guardian.” This means that people are really worried about it and they want more action on climate change, they want protection of the water, environmental protection and are concerned that we are not moving fast enough in this. “

Federal Labor described the gas-driven recovery concept as a “fraud” and questioned the need for gas infrastructure subsidies, but said gas will play an important role in Australia’s future energy mix.

Related: Australia should abandon target of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C, says gas company observing Beetaloo Basin

The NT government has expressly ruled out granting subsidies for fracking.

But the prime minister, Natasha Fyles, told the Guardian that the government understood “the importance of having jobs for the Territorians, development in our regions and energy security continues as we move to renewable energy.”

“We also know that protecting our natural environment is critical,” he said. “That is why we have put in place strong regulations to protect our environment, and that is why we are implementing all 135 recommendations of the independent scientific inquiry on hydraulic fracturing.”

Lock the Gate Alliance national coordinator Carmel Flint said it was “encouraging to see such strong grassroots support” in NT Labor to end NT fracking subsidies.

“This confirms that there is strong support for the Albanian government to use the next budget in October to cut Scott Morrison’s wasted gas subsidies,” Flint said.

“It is absolutely clear from these motions passed at the field work conference that party members see through the rotation of the sector and recognize the threat that fracking poses to water, communities and the climate.”

NT Labor Environment Action Network coordinator Rowan Hayward congratulated the party on “embracing a stronger commitment to environmental protection and climate action” at his conference.

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