NT Labor Party divisions revealed as majority vote to ban fracking
Protestors against fracking rallied ahead of the NT Labor Party’s annual conference. (ABC News: Jano Gibson)
Delegates at Territory Labor’s annual conference have voted in favour of a ban on fracking, highlighting the deep divisions within the party just a month after the Gunner Government lifted its moratorium.
As anti-fracking protesters gathered outside the conference in Darwin, Chief Minister Michael Gunner called on party delegates to recognise his decision to support fracking was based on the findings of an independent, scientific inquiry.
“I understand the emotion in this room,” Mr Gunner said.
“But I hope you also understand we have to make our decisions based on evidence, on science, on the experts.”
The Chief Minister reiterated the risks of fracking could be mitigated.
“If all recommendations are implemented we can protect the environment, water, existing jobs industries, sacred sites, and create new jobs,” he said.
However, when the motion for a fracking ban was put to a vote, the majority of delegates supported it.
One of them was Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson, who disagreed that it showed the party was divided.
“I think it’s more about delivering the message from the Katherine electorate, that they still don’t support fracking, and that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing for them,” she said prior to the vote.
Despite the vote, Mr Gunner will not be bound by the conference decision.
“Conference passes motions, resolutions, which are a guide to the Government,” Federal Labor MP Warren Snowdon said prior to the vote.
“Conference won’t be instructing the Government.”
Anti-fracking campaigners said they would continue to fight the Government’s policy.
“We feel vindicated by this decision, which shows the Chief Minister is isolated in his support for the fracking industry, even within his own party,” Frack-Free NT’s Lauren Mellor said.
Big River Station owner Daniel Tapp arrived at the protest on horseback. (ABC News: Jano Gibson )
Big River Station owner Daniel Tapp, who arrived at the protest on horseback, said the Government should listen to the concerns of the community.
“We all oppose fracking, so how can you just overrule the majority of the population here?” he said.
His concerns were echoed by Garrawa traditional owner Nancy McDinny, from the Borroloola region.
“We don’t want your money,” she said.
“We love our land and our water. For our children’s future.”