First, some background: A lengthy and thorough inquiry into fracking in the NT was completed in 2018.
The Gunner ALP government, elected in 2016, had agreed, prior to the election, to a moratorium on fracking, pending the outcome of the report. When it was tabled, it came with a rigorous and lengthy list of conditions which were to be met before fracking could commence.
The Top End of the NT differs from the rest of Australia in not referring to the seasons of Winter and Summer, instead replacing them with the Dry Season and the Wet Season, respectively. The latter is normally distinguished by having at least one intense monsoon spell, ensuring that water is seldom a problem in the Top End.
That is, until global warming and climate change rear their heads.
While we are admittedly short of the end of the official Wet Season on 30 April, reports from the Bureau of Meteorology are disturbing. To catch up to the average rainfall we would need to be drowned in the next few weeks!
Many years ago, before climate change became the elephant in the room, an earlier NT government agreed to allow one of the two major dams in the Top End to be made available for water sports. Consequently, Manton Dam ceased to provide water for use in Darwin and the supply source was reduced to the Darwin River Dam.
Over the intervening years there has been an increasing number of rural residents, whose water supply comes from bores they themselves sink and maintain. In more recent years, PAWA, responsible for water and sewerage in the Top End, has added bore water to the supply for Darwin, and there is now discussion on the need for another dam to ensure an adequate supply, possibly reclaiming Manton Dam.
And this is where fracking comes in.
Both Santos and Origin Energy plan to commence work in the coming Dry Season, and have lodged applications for grants for new water extraction licences.
Most governments in Australia share an alarmingly high degree of scepticism over global warming and governments everywhere tend to have the ability to ignore the implications of the effects of policies which might eventuate after the end of the current electoral cycle.
We have two choices it seems: we can ignore the likelihood of our actions affecting climate change and risk going to hell in a hand basket, or we can accept that we really do need to curb emissions to contain the rate of rising temperatures and, hopefully, eventually succeed in halting and reversing those rising temperatures.
The fact that the Gunner government has a massive debt is obvious motivation to support any activities which might put money in their coffers. The need for their actions to not be damaging to the future of the NT is being ignored.
For those who believe that global warming, accelerated by mankind’s activities, is for real and we have little more than a decade to take drastic action, the thought that we are still talking about new sources for oil, gas and coal is downright lunacy. For us in the NT to not only allow fracking, but risk having our water supply diminished and polluted, suggests criminal levels of stupidity.
I have lived in the NT for 48 years and I know the climate is changing. I have 3 great grandchildren ranging from just over 1 to nearly 9 years old and I genuinely fear for their future – although you do not need to be an octogenarian to be concerned for the future.
The crazy thing is that we have energy in the form of sunshine going to waste, when we could be establishing solar farms! We could be developing wayside service stations where electric cars and trucks (and their passengers) could recharge, so making distance a less negative factor for their introduction.
We could be using that power to supply the necessary mechanisms to recycle everything that is currently polluting both land and water.
OK – first response is usually that it is not economically viable.
Right – then tell me how much is being spent, all round the world to restore facilities destroyed by extreme weather events like wildfires, floods, cyclones, hurricanes, landslides and, in due course, rising oceans?
Add to that the health costs, financial and personal, of polluted air and water and do you still believe recycling is not viable? Because if that is the case, why are we not curtailing the use of the sources of the pollution?
How many more catastrophes must occur around the world before people come out of their bubbles and realise this is a truly global problem and we cannot wait any longer to act for change?
Let’s get the kudos of being first to take really effective action in the Southern Hemisphere!
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