Greens call on ACT’s Federal Labor MPs: Help stop Beetaloo, the world’s biggest new gas mine


On Wednesday 24 November the Senate will vote for a second and final time on a Greens move to block the Morrison government giving $50 million in public funding to the massively destructive and polluting Beetaloo gas project.

Federal Greens candidates Tim Hollo and Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng are urging ACT Federal Labor MPs to use their voice and influence in caucus to ensure that their party votes in line with climate science, community expectations and their stated commitment to climate action, by supporting the Greens disallowance motion.

In August, Labor voted to allow the subsidy. This week, after the Glasgow summit called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, Labor has a second chance to join international efforts to limit global warming to the 1.5 degree temperature goal of the Paris Agreement

Greens candidate for the seat of Canberra, Tim Hollo, said “This is a clear line in the sand. It’s not a drill. Labor needs to choose if it will vote to stop this climate disaster or vote to support the government in funding it.

“Canberra’s Federal Labor MPs are spending thousands of dollars on social media ads trumpeting their commitment to climate action. Voting in the parliament to fund fossil fuels is literally the opposite of climate action, and Canberrans are watching.

“I’m sure that Andrew Leigh, Alicia Payne, David Smith and Katie Gallagher don’t want to see public funds going to such a climate disaster, and this week they need to show it. They need to use any influence they have in the caucus to insist that their party votes to block public funds going to frack the NT.”

Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng noted the devastating scale of the project. 

“The Beetaloo Basin gas project is a climate disaster four times worse than Adani - we’re talking about fracking an area of land twice the size of Tasmania, which would devastate Indigenous lands and waterways, and substantially increase both Australia’s, and the world’s, emissions.

“The fact that Labor is so scared of being wedged that they might vote for something they clearly don’t believe in demonstrates the terrible state of climate politics in Australia. This is their chance to do the right thing.”

Background on the Beetaloo Basin

The Northern Territory Labor government, supported by the Federal Liberal and Labor parties, is progressing on a plan to frack the Beetaloo Basin. The Federal government has proudly claimed that the Beetaloo Basin could be the biggest gas reserve in the world.

If leakage rates are higher than 3%, gas has the same emissions profile of coal. In exploration wells so far, leakage rates are averaging 4-5%, meaning that the Beetaloo’s gas is dirtier than coal.

Opening up the gas fields of the Northern Territory has the potential to release up to 34 billion tonnes of pollution. This is the equivalent of 68 years of Australia’s (already high) pollution levels.

1,200 fracking wells would be mined right across NT’s countryside if the Basin is opened up, with each well requiring between 11 and 34 million litres of water.

To meet the 1.5 degree temperature goal of the Paris Agreement we need to reduce emissions by 7.6% a year, every year between now and 2030. The International Energy Agency has said we cannot open any new coal, oil or gas reserves if we are to keep warming below 1.5C.

Fracking the Beetaloo Basin would increase Australia’s emissions by at least 8%, and up to 23%, every year for decades. 

Comments attributable to Tim Hollo, Greens candidate for Canberra: 

“Canberrans deserve local representatives who act in the best interests of our community, not their donors in the fossil fuel industry.

“I’ve been out with big teams of volunteers over recent weeks speaking with Canberrans at their doors and at the shops, and I’m hearing deep anger at the LNP over their climate vandalism, as well as deep disenchantment with Labor continuing to try to walk both sides of the street on climate. Canberrans understand that you can’t claim to take the climate crisis seriously while still backing coal and gas.

“Labor will keep backing more new coal, oil and gas unless the Greens are in shared power to push them towards real climate action. Canberrans can help not just kick the Liberals out but also put Greens in balance of power to make sure that the next government goes further and faster on the climate crisis.”

Comments attributable to Dr Tjanara Goreng Goreng, Greens candidate for the Senate:

“The ‘protect country’ campaign has made it abundantly clear that Traditional Owners want to stop this threat to groundwater and the environment. 

“This runs completely counter to the need to give First Nations peoples the right to care for their country, waterways and heritage. The government is giving public money to destroy Jawoyn, Alawa, Jingili, Walmanpa, Warumungu, Ngadji and Binbinga peoples’ lands, along with country directly downstream from the sub-basin. 

“We know Morrison and fellow climate vandals in his party like Zed Seselja won’t change their mind. But Federal Labor can block the project right now by voting with the Greens and crossbenchers in the Senate.

“If I were elected to represent the ACT in the Senate instead of Zed, you can be sure I would never even countenance supporting such funding.”