Media Releases

MEDIA RELEASE: Zali Steggall MP challenges funding to a major gas development in federal Parliament

25 May, 2021

The funding for a major gas development in the Beetaloo Basin is being challenged by Independent Zali Steggall MP.

Ms Steggall has tabled a motion to disallow $50 million of funding allocated to the Industry Research and Development (Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program) Instrument 2021.

Ms Steggall said the Beetaloo Basin funding was an irresponsible use of public funding by the Government at the time when the rest of the world is phasing out fossil fuels.

“The Beetaloo Basin project doesn’t just have ramifications for the Northern Territory, but the whole of Australia. Climate impacts will affect everyone,” Ms Steggall MP said.

“A week after the International Energy Agency said there can be no new fossil fuel developments if we are to get to net zero by 2050, the Morrison Government wants to push ahead with an irresponsible program to open up the Beetaloo Basin.

“The Morrison Government is pursuing this reckless program despite all expert evidence to the contrary. This one basin alone could increase Australia’s emissions by 7%, putting our climate targets out of reach.”

”Whilst the world is shifting away from fossil fuels, Australia is quickly becoming an international pariah with investments in Kurri Kurri and the Beetaloo.

“This Government must drop the ‘gas-fired recovery’ and commit to a clean recovery with investments in clean technologies, which will create sustainable jobs for the NT.

“Focus should be on the MPs who claim to support emissions reduction if they allow this instrument to stand. It is time for accountability.


The motion is being seconded by Independent for Indi,  Dr Helen Haines MP, who argued the Government should stop tipping money into fossil fuel projects and seize the opportunity to support renewable projects that take the country forward.

“Regional Australians are rightly disappointed to see the Government double down on its dead-end gas-led recovery. Like me, they know the real answer is in regional renewables,” Dr Haines said.

"The hundreds of millions being pumped into the Beetaloo Basin could fund game-changing regional renewable projects where profits stay in the regions instead of going offshore to foreign multinationals. That money could’ve been spent on my Australian Local Power Agency Bill, which would fund regional renewable projects that do just that.

The Australia Institute supported the disallowance motion, saying the funding had nothing to do with reducing gas prices for Australians given gas from the Beetaloo Basin is remote and expensive.

“The Federal Government’s $50 million handout to the gas industry is not based on any competitive or credible process and will only bolster the pockets of gas companies and contribute to higher emissions”, said Richie Merzian, Director of The Australia Institute’s Climate and Energy Program.

“The Government is rewarding export focused gas companies who have cost Australian households and manufacturers billions of dollars by driving up local gas prices and sending all our affordable gas overseas. What is worse, most of these companies pay little if any tax in Australia.”