- The Guardian
- Issue #2053
Magela Creek, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. Photo: Geoff Whalan – flickr.com (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The Territory and Federal governments appear to have prioritised spending on roads that will benefit the fracking industry at a time when many of the NT roads are in a state of disrepair following significant natural disasters.
This year’s Territory budget shows $80 million in “new works” (Page 26), jointly funded by the federal and territory governments, for “gas industry roads” as part of a longer term $214.8 million subsidy which began under the former Morrison government.
The $80 million for “gas industry roads” appears to be the highest funding amount allocated to any Territory roads under “new works” for 2023-24, and is in addition to previous gas industry roads funding from 2022-23 which totalled $134 million.
The $214 million package for gas industry roads is also the highest ongoing roads allocation funding package for any of the Territory’s roads.
Protect Big Rivers Katherine spokesperson Dr Sam Phelan said, “While any road funding in our region is welcomed, to deliberately focus on these roads at the expense of others is really another subsidy for the fracking industry.
“We’re already seeing the negative impact of the fracking industry on our roads, and it’s so far only been for exploratory drilling.
“Huge trucks used by the fracking industry are ripping up public roads that were never built for such high volumes of traffic.
“This impact on our roads should not be subsidised by the taxpayer, and it definitely shouldn’t leach much needed funding away from repairing dangerous roads elsewhere in the Territory.
“Bad roads cost lives, and unfortunately crashes due to the poor state of roads is a fact of life for many communities across the NT.
“The cost of climate change on Territory roads is evident following massive flood events this year impacting the Barkly, Stuart, and Victoria Highways.
“The Territorian and Australian public must not be forced to subsidise the fracking industry’s destruction of public roads at a time when climate events, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is reaping havoc across our road network, and tragically costing lives in the Territory.”