One to watch: why next month’s NT election matters

Australian Greens

The Northern Territory is facing an election on August 22. NT Greens candidate for Nightcliff Billee McGinley explains why this election is so important, and why the outcome will impact all Australians – including you.

By Billee McGinley

The Northern Territory is unavoidably in the midst of a global climate emergency driven by the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

And what happens here doesn’t just affect those of us in the NT – it’s a national and global issue.

Things are developing fast in the NT. With the election coming up on August 22, it’s a critical opportunity to get more honest representation in the Territory parliament to help protect our beautiful and unique part of the world. We can’t afford not to.

Corrupt Covid recovery commission

The Territory government is planning to fasttrack developments focusing on the manufacturing of petrochemicals based on the NT’s Economic Reconstruction Commission (ERC) interim report – with a focus on fracking in the Beetaloo Basin.

Clear conflicts of interest in the ERC are driving a terribly fateful future. Former Dow Chemical boss Andrew Liveris – who was hand-picked by Donald Trump to head the American Manufacturing Council – has been appointed co-chair of the Commission alongside former NT chief minister Paul Henderson. Much like the federal Covid recovery committee, many other ERC members are oil and gas lobbyists and bankers with obvious vested interests.

It is a disgrace that Liveris and Henderson have been appointed co-chairs of this Commission. Liveris himself has strong economic interests in the manufacturing of petrochemicals, and is on the record saying that fracking is crucial to the NT’s future.

The NT Greens have slammed this response and called for the resignations of both co-chairs. The Gunner Labor Government is throwing the NT taxpayer under the polluting bus to foot the bill for a gas industry we do not want or need. There needs to be an inquiry into Liveris and Henderson’s appointment by the government, and into this shoddy interim report.

Climate health impacts

The ERC report was released the same day we saw the Climate Health Alliance issue an urgent climate election warning. They called for the NT government to stop all fossil fuel extraction processes – including fracking – because of the potential catastrophic health impacts of climate change.

The NT Greens are the only party in the Territory to properly address the many climate change action submissions from peak organisations. We are committed to the development of a climate change act for the Northern Territory, vital in achieving the actions and strategies needed to decarbonise our economy, as outlined in the NT Greens’ 2020 policy on climate change.

The NT Greens strongly support the health sector professionals who have called on the NT government and candidates in this election to be guided in their climate change response by current expert science, as they were with the management of Covid-19. This is no time to put profits before the environment and our health.

Other NT parties are restricting our renewable energy transition to a low 50 percent by 2030. The NT can achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, but the parties refusing to quit dangerous fracking – a major, global cause of climate change – are in our way. The NT Greens have an unfettered and evidence-based plan to make a much-needed 100 percent transition to renewable energy by 2030.

We also know remote Aboriginal communities and people living in poverty are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to severe housing shortages, discrepancies in health outcomes, food security and economic marginalisation. The NT Greens are committed to massive reinvestment into remote communities, which is urgently needed to improve living conditions, economic wellbeing and health outcomes.

Frack no to fracking

Fracking in the Beetaloo Basin doesn’t just affect us in the NT – it’s a national and global issue. It’s why all eyes need to be on the Beetaloo, and why the outcome of the Territory election matters so much. If we stop Beetaloo, we break a major part of the chain of fossil fuel developments happening Australia-wide.

The government knows that fracking the Beetaloo will likely singlehandedly blow our Paris targets. And it would be extremely challenging and expensive, not to mention practically unachievable and unviable, to offset the projected emissions. There is no need for gas as a ‘bridging’ fuel – this is just noise made by a dodgy salesman trying to sell an obsolete industry.

Thanks to years of community pressure from all over the Territory, fracking remains a top issue this election. We have even seen an emerging party, Territory Alliance, adopt our stance on fracking, which is a heartening development that helps put pressure on the old parties. However, Territory Alliance are still committed to other fossil fuel expansions, have a renewable energy target of only 30 percent, and are yet to release a climate change policy.

Only the Greens have a clear economic vision for the Territory driven by a renewable energy economy. At a minimum, we are committed to 100% renewable energy by 2030 – though we believe we can go so much further in harnessing new industry and economies.

The NT Greens, as well as scores of lobby groups, are out rallying the community to use their power as voters this election to ban fracking and to start our solar revolution. We have 10 candidates running across the Territory, and in some electorates – particularly Nightcliff – we are only a few hundred votes away from winning.

This election, we have a real chance to shift the balance of politics in the NT. We have the opportunity to protect future generations’ rights to a safe environment – to help shape a better future for all of us.

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Billee McGinley is the NT Greens candidate for Nightcliff.

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