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Special rules for frackers

Community shut out from comment on the NT’s largest ever fracking proposal 

After a tumultuous 2023 in Northern Territory politics, and with an election looming in just over six months, our politicians should know this by now. 

Territorians won’t stand for politicians favouring fracking companies over the community, and putting our water, climate and lifestyle at risk in service of gas company profits.  

Shockingly, making special rules to suit the frackers is exactly what the Northern Territory Government has done to ring in the new year, and we need you to tell them that you won’t stand for it. 

After the NT Government’s disastrous decision to greenlight fracking last year, Texan fracker Tamboran lodged the biggest NT fracking proposal ever just before Christmas. This disastrous plan will see 15 new wells constructed in the Beetaloo, using the destructive mega-fracker imported by Tamboran from the United States. If it’s approved, it will generate hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon pollution, and see 1.5 billion litres of water used in just a few years. And this proposal is just the start. If fracking moves to full scale production, over 6000 wells could be drilled through our precious aquifers, and over 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions could be generated, making fracking the Beetaloo Basin one of the most polluting projects in the world. 

It’s a monster of a proposal, and the community has a right to be heard about it. 

The problem is, the 28-day period for public comment fell over the Christmas and new year period, when the government and Tamboran knew that the good people of the Northern Territory would be taking a well-earned break from work, and would be busy with their families and friends.  

Then, to add insult to injury, and without any warning, the NT Government closed the website for the public to make comments early, meaning that many community members, Traditional Owners and organisations missed out on making a submission. When community groups raised the alarm, the government doubled down behind fracking company Tamboran, and said that any submissions lodged after the website was closed at 8.30am on 9 January 2024 wouldn’t be counted as valid. That’s despite the government’s own website saying that submissions would close at midnight that night. 

The consequences are big. This is the very first time that a fracking proposal will be subject to new laws allowing community members to challenge fracking approvals on their merits.  If the community can’t make a submission, then they lose the right to challenge. It’s pretty simple really. The government has changed the rules to suit the frackers, and shut out the community to do so.  

If the government cannot be trusted to follow a simple process and allow the public the full 28 day consultation period as required by the law, then how can they be trusted to regulate the fracking industry? 

We can’t let this one go through to the keeper. The stakes are too high, and it sets a shocking precedent. We need you to ask the Environment Minister to confirm that all submissions made before midnight on 9 January will be accepted and that the government won’t shut the community out of public consultation on fracking projects again.  

Will you email the Environment Minister to call for genuine public consultation?