Dear Mr Hawke,
I am pleased to see an inquiry being undertaken into hydraulic fracturing in the NT, but I do hope the government takes the findings seriously and this isn't just an exercise in keeping the environmentalists 'happy'.
I am English, and I have moved to Central Australia recently. Amongst the reasons I've chosen to make this area my home are the beautiful landscape, the clean air and incredible blue skies, the remoteness and the community spirit. As far as I can see, fracking could threaten all of these aspects of life in Central Australia.
I am opposed to fracking because where I come from it has already caused earthquakes, so goodness knows what else could happen. My deep, deep concern in this area is that it gets into the water supply. How utterly mad to risk such a fragile resource. The government's proposals actually are preventing me from being interested in investing in the property market here, because, how can I trust that our future is secure when politicians seem so blinded by dollars, with so little thought for the impact on the environment? And fracking near Uluru? I cannot believe it would even be considered.
To still be chasing after fossil fuels when solar technology has come so far, seems to me to be ridiculous. We live in the sunniest place imaginable and have so much available space, why aren't we investing in a sustainable source of energy? Minister Chandler has told me personally that solar companies aren't beating down the government's door to put infrastructure in here. I do not believe it. I think if the government was to provide as much support and investment in solar as it does fossil fuels I really cannot see it not having a similar effect from solar companies.
My other concern is that the Department for Mines and Energy acts as not only the promoter of these activities, but also is the authority that manages the Environment Impact Assessments. This is dangerous. You need an independent agency like the EPA to take on this role. Also, I ask that the inquiry consider recommending a requirement that an operator integrates waste water management planning into their application for a licence.
The wishes of the Government and these companies are short term. But the impacts, if anything goes wrong, will be long term. I can't see how much of the money made will benefit the NT anyway. It won't bring extra, stable populations. The companies will come in, do what they need to do until all the resources are used, and move on, leaving their detritus behind them. If solar was undertaken instead, it would provide jobs, and attract people to move into the territory for work. I do not buy the 'it's too hard to export the energy created by solar' argument. If we can afford to put a gas pipeline in, as proposed, I'm pretty sure we can transport electricity somehow or another. I'm sure the $8m promised to help the fossil fuel companies in the recent budget would go a long way towards solving that problem.
I request that my name be withheld for professional reasons.