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NT Labor holds firm on fracking moratorium

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Neda Vanovac

The incoming Northern Territory Labor government has maintained its election promise to have a moratorium on fracking.

On Tuesday it was announced the Victorian Labor government will permanently ban fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, prohibiting the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas.

Until the legislation passes, an existing moratorium on onshore unconventional gas exploration and development will remain in place.

In the NT, the Labor government ran on an election platform of putting in place an indefinite moratorium on fracking for shale gas amidst growing community concern about negative environmental and health impacts.

Labor says it was a decision made in the Territory for Territorians, and was not influenced by Victoria's planned ban.

"The Territory Labor Government has been open and transparent about our fracking moratorium," spokeswoman Natasha Fyles said in a statement to AAP.

She said Labor would hold community consultation and conduct a "comprehensive scientific investigation" into potential impacts.

That follows a CLP government inquiry report released last year, which found that "the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively subject to the creation of a robust regulatory regime".

Labor said that once it had completed its investigation , it would "either ban fracking or allow it under highly regulated and tightly prescribed areas".

Member for Katherine Willem Westra van Holthe, who is locked in a tight battle to retain his seat, said fracking was a major issue in the rural area.

"A couple of years ago when I was still minister for mines and energy, I warned my colleagues in the government that fracking was going to be an enormous issue across the NT, and if we didn't get our act together the same thing would happen to us that happened in Queensland; that is, the anti-fracking movement took hold, they managed to fill the airspace with their version of the truth, and of course the government was left running behind to try to catch up," he told ABC local radio.

"We all swore that wouldn't happen in the Territory, that we would make sure the people of the Territory knew all about the oil and gas industry and fracking, and the truth behind the issues."

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