Government Can’t Have A Stake On Both Sides

Written by:
3 February 2024
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In this article, Saxon Davidson contextualises and disseminates the findings of the IPA’s research into the economic cost of net zero, conducted as part of the IPA’s Net Zero Program.

The IPA’s Net Zero Program aims to research the various ways net zero policies negatively affect Australia’s energy security, national security capabilities, and household electricity prices.

The emphatic verdict of the Federal Court to throw out the spurious claims made by activists at the so-called Environmental Defenders Office in their attempt to prevent the Barossa gas project from becoming operational is a massive win for the Territory.

Economic analysis by the Institute of Public Affairs shows the Barossa gas project has the potential to deliver more than $8.8bn in economic activity and more than 14,000 direct and indirect jobs, most of which will be filled by Territorians for many years to come.

Had the activists at the EDO managed to convince the Federal Court of its claims, all this could have been put at risk and it would have had a disastrous impact on the Territory’s future prosperity.

It is now time the Chief Minister locks in this Federal Court win for good, and she knows it.

Many Territorians would not be aware that over the past five years the EDO has received more than $7m in taxpayers’ money from state and territory governments, including from the NT.

On top of this, with the election of the current federal government in 2022, the EDO was awarded an extra $8m in taxpayers funds over four years, in a reversal of the policy of the previous government.

On top of this, it will be furnished with $2.6m in federal money annually to be shared with fellow activists, Environmental Justice Australia.

This week, Ms Lawler said, announcing a review into funding these activists received from the NT government, that there needed to be “consequences for anybody who’s lied, particularly about something so important to the Territory economy”.

It is a promising first step from the Chief Minister, but the right path is clear.

How can the NT government look Territorians in the eye if they continue to hand over taxpayers’ money to activists whose cases could destroy jobs in the Top End?

The tide is already turning, and Ms Lawler should not be left behind.

The EDO’s egregious behaviour is already generating consequences, the first to demonstrate leadership from Canberra has been Peter Dutton, who announced that in government the EDO would not receive funding on his watch.

Dutton makes the commonsense point that he does not want “activists to hold sway over our industries and our economy.”

Projects like the Barossa are vital for the future economic development of the Territory and regional Australia more broadly.

We simply cannot afford to stand by and fund the destruction of such nationbuilding projects.

The legal argument provided by the EDO on the Barossa gas project was savaged in court by the Justice Natalie Charlesworth.

Justice Charlesworth stated the evidence the EDO provided was “so lacking in integrity that no weight can be placed on them”, and that the EDO was “distorting and misrepresenting what the Indigenous informant had said”.

And this is the problem. Even when these baseless legal challenges fail, they serve their purpose to delay projects, and in so doing undermine a project’s viability – which appears to be a tactic of activist organisations.

The process is the punishment.

The vast majority of projects activists at the EDO target using our legal system are located in regional Australia.

The next cab off the rank will be the Scarborough Gas Project in WA.

It is clear the only path for other state and territory governments should be to also cease funding to these extreme activists.

Defunding the EDO is an important first step to ensuring critical resource projects that employ tens of thousands of regional Australians, provide critical economic development, and provide the taxes that pay for our roads, hospitals and schools.

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