Former Labor Minister turned Gas Industry lobby head claims on Territory fracking industry ‘outdated and incorrect’

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                                                                       8 MARCH 2016

Former Labor Minister turned Gas Industry lobby head claims on Territory fracking industry ‘outdated and incorrect’

Former Labor Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has used a speech today at the Australian Domestic Gas Outlook conference in Sydney to attack NT Labor for listening to widespread concerns held by Territory voters and implementing a fracking moratorium policy ahead of the August polls.

The comments come as no surprise from the former Minister who resigned from the Labor party in 2015 after party efforts to have him removed for his close ties to the resource sector and has now taken up a role as Chair of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association industry lobby group and holds commercial interests in the sector as a non-executive director of Seven Group Holdings and BG Group

Lauren Mellor of the Territory Frack Free Alliance said the comments and Ferguson’s Chairmanship at APPEA demonstrate the kind of cosy government/industry links that have fuelled voter distrust of the assessment and regulation process for risky unconventional gas fracking in the Territory and around Australia.

“Mr Ferguson’s hysteric warning of a ‘catastrophic shortage of gas in the NT’ if fracking plans are put on hold shows an extraordinary ignorance about current gas market conditions considering the current oversupply of gas from conventional and offshore reserves including the ENI Blacktip gas contract which the NT Government is planning to sell its excess of.”

APPEA are clearly in denial of the dismal jobs figures for the fracking sector too. A gas-industry funded study in the gasfields of the Darling Downs in QLD showed that for every 10 unconventional gas jobs created, 15 were lost from the agricultural sector and there were virtually no spill-over jobs created in manufacturing, retail or the service sector[1] causing a majority of businesses to say they were made worse off following the introduction of the unconventional gas industry.[2]

“Not only is putting the brakes on fracking good for the protection of local jobs and industries, and our water supplies, but it also makes good electoral sense. Polling has consistently shown that most voters would support a ban on fracking, and would change their vote to a party or independent who held this policy position.”[3]

“The findings of the Hawke report which both APPEA and the NT Government cite are compromised and out of date. It was authored by someone with no scientific credentials and close ties to gas distribution networks. Its key recommendations for improved regulation, including a catchment-wide spatial survey to identify impacts to groundwater, have not been implemented. There are also now more than 300 peer reviewed scientific studies released since the Hawke report which point to evidence of damage and pollution caused by fracking.”

“The collapse in the global gas market is also hitting costly unconventional gas producers hard and this can be seen across the Territory with fracking hopefuls like Santos, Origin, Pangea and American Energy Partners winding back or exiting high cost shale gas ventures in droves.”

“For these reasons a moratorium on the fracking industry while the environmental and economic impacts are considered is the only sensible approach to a damaging, and dying, industry.”

 

For comment or context call:

Lauren Mellor, Territory Frack Free Alliance, 0413 534 125

[1] Fleming M and Measham, 2015, Local economic impacts of an unconventional energy boom: the coal seam gas industry in Australia

[2] University of QLD, 2013, Energy resources from the food bowl: an uneasy co-existence. Identifying and managing cumulative impacts of mining and agriculture

[3] Lock the Gate Darwin electorate polling conducted by Reachtel, February 2015