The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) has discovered that on the final day before entering caretaker the Giles/Tollner CLP Government consolidated 24 explorations licences for the benefit of Texan company Tri-Star Energy.
This news broke nationally yesterday in The Australian Business Review http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/sweetheart-coal-deal-locked-in-before-nt-poll/news-story/82da87f5228eb048b3ef756e52a5008d
It also featured in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/23/timing-of-nt-governments-secret-deal-with-tri-star-coal-company-queried
The titles, which cover a staggering 14,750 sq/km, keep the door open for Tri-star to try and develop a massive coalmine along the southern border of the Northern Territory. The Gazette notice consolidating the titles and reserving the land for coal development can be seen here:
“Unfortunately, while not surprising, the audacity of the Mines and Energy Department to approve this consolidation and reserving 14,750 km2 for a potential coal mine is reprehensible”, said ALEC Director Jimmy Cocking.
'Tri-star petroleum is locked in legal battles in Queensland over contractual arrangements. This gifting of almost 15000km2 of land in the middle of the Great Artesian basin by the NT Mines and Energy Department on the last day of government is akin to theft, ' said Mr Cocking.
'It was the granting of coal mines in New South Wales that featured in the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries, and here we see other deals taking place without any public scrutiny. Government must realise the need to be open and transparent with the public.”
“The CLP has outdone itself, the world is moving away from coal, but unfortunately it would seem the NT is stuck in the past. Here we have the Minister and the Department of Mines and Energy reserving land and actively working towards the development of a massive coal mine in the middle of the Great Artesian Basin, whilst the rest of the world is turning to renewables.”
“ALEC has concerns that decision sets up the NT for legal liability where the company may push for compensation if it is not allowed to proceed down the track."
“The Arid Lands Environment Centre calls on the Opposition to commit to undoing the dodgy deals of the CLP if it is fortunate enough to form government. It must reverse this decision to reserve land for a coal mine and refer the decision to the promised, but not yet established ICAC”, said Mr Cocking.
The Arid Lands Environment Centre has today engaged the Environmental Defenders Office NT to provide advice on the legality of the decision.