17 May 2018
A company that will benefit from the Northern Territory government lifting its fracking moratorium successfully lobbied to gain exemptions from new national gas rules, Environmental Justice Australia has revealed.
As the NT Government today announces an end to the ban on fracking, EJA has uncovered a recent financial report by Jemena, the company building the Northern Gas Pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa, that shows it has gained exemptions from new national gas rules.
Rules about information disclosure, contract negotiations and dispute resolution were introduced in August 2017, placing new obligations on businesses in the gas and pipeline industries.
But Jemena has admitted its lobbying has borne fruit, declaring in a recent financial report: “Management successfully worked with the Northern Territory Government to secure a derogation from the new Rules for the Northern Gas Pipeline.” (SPSG (Australia) Assets Pty Ltd, 2017 Financial Report, p 36)
Jemena is expected to get a financial windfall from today’s decision to lift the fracking moratorium.
EJA is concerned that the NT government’s Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing glossed over the climate risks of fracking.
“The inquiry defied its terms of reference to arrive at a conclusion that climate change risks can be managed, without assessing whether or not that is possible,” said David Barnden, Principal at EJA.
“In a world threated by climate change, the scientific inquiry used verbal sleight of hand to draw a politically palatable conclusion that would allow the government to lift the ban on fracking.
“Jemena, the Chinese government owned company that will benefit from the ban being lifted, has already been successful in lobbying the NT government to exclude the company from complying with new rules for gas pipelines on transparency and access.
“Jemena’s latest financial reports also reveals it is being audited by the Australian Taxation Office for possible tax evasion.
“On the information available to us we suggest the first order of business for the new NT Independent Commission Against Corruption should be an investigation into influence by a Chinese state owned company on the NT government,” he said.
In June 2016 Environmental Justice Australia wrote to the ATO asking it to investigate Jemena’s corporate restructure and compliance with transfer pricing laws for $800 million in so-called ‘convertible instruments’.