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Labor joins the Liberals to lock in climate bomb fracking rort

Media Release
Adam Bandt 25 Aug 2021

The Australian Greens have savaged Labor’s decision to vote with the Liberals today in the Senate to spend public money opening up massive gas fields in the Beetaloo Basin, saying the move raised questions as to whether Labor still believes the climate crisis is real.

If Labor had voted with the Greens and crossbench, the fund would have been abolished, given the numbers in the Senate. Labor is responsible for the continued existence of the $50 million Beetaloo Co-operative Drilling Program to open up new gas projects.

The Greens have vowed to revisit the issue when Parliament meets again in October, and off the back of the Labor party writing to the Auditor-General to investigate the fund they support, the Australian Greens have also written to the ANAO asking for this work to be completed before the next and final vote.

The fund is being used to funnel money to a donor to Liberal and Labor. Major grant beneficiary Empire Energy’s majority shareholder is billionaire Dale Elphinstone, a regular donor to the Liberal Party and a Liberal Party Life Member. Empire Energy also donated $25,000 to both the Northern Territory Labor Party and Country Liberal Party during the 2020 territory election.

There is almost 70 years’ worth of Australia’s emissions in the NT gas basins and fracking the NT will lift our own annual emissions by up to 6%.

Lines from the Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt MP:

“In the middle of a climate crisis, Labor is backing the Liberals using public money to open up new gas fields.

"Gas is as dirty as coal. Labor’s decision to vote with the Liberals to open up new gas fields makes you wonder if they accept the science of climate change.

"Scientists are screaming at us to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground, but Labor and Liberal have just used public money to open up massive gas reserves, lighting the fuse on a giant climate bomb.

"This is a climate crime. Public money should go to schools and hospitals, not Liberal and Labor corporate gas donors who are cooking our future.

"It is clear the Liberals have to be kicked out, but Labor can’t be trusted to act on the climate crisis, so we need to put the Greens in balance of power in both houses of Parliament.

"If Labor had voted with the Greens instead of the Liberals, we would have won. We had the numbers.

"It is Labor who has allowed this climate crime to happen.

"It’s not too late for Labor to change their mind and defuse this climate bomb, with a final disallowance vote set for 19 October."

Lines from the Australian Greens Leader in the Senate, Senator Larissa Waters:

“Labor talks a big game on climate, but their track record falls well short of their rhetoric. Time after time, presented with the opportunity to stand up to this dodgy government and fight for climate action, they turn tail and run.

“Perhaps we shouldn’t expect much more from a party that can't even commit to a 2030 ermissions reduction target, and a party that pockets millions in donations from gas and coal companies.

“Senator Watt said that if people want to know where Labor stands they should look to their policy platform. Well, I think people are going to be looking at Labor’s voting record, and I think they’ll see quite clearly that when Labor had the chance to stop public money going to a climate-wrecking project they didn’t take it.

“By siding with the Libs to give money to a major donor to frack the Northern Territory, against the explicit wishes of Traditional Owners, Labor is giving First Nations people and all Australians a clear and unambiguous message: ‘We don’t care about you.’”

Lines from the Chair of the Senate Environment Committee, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young:

“The Senate should have put an end to this rort today.

“It’s disappointing the Labor Party can identify all the ways in which this program is dodgy yet has allowed it to continue.

“Millions of dollars of taxpayer money is destined for a bunch of gas cowboys to create a climate bomb and due to Labor’s capitulation, now even more money will be handed out under this dodgy program.

“The evidence uncovered by the Senate Inquiry into this program showed there was no proper due-diligence, a $21m cheque was handed over on a ‘first in, first served’ basis and the recipient is a donor to the Liberal Party.  

“The Greens will keep fighting to put a stop to this program because not only is the taxpayer being rorted, our climate is being ripped off too.” 

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