Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for the NT Labor Government to lift its moratorium on fracking.
Speaking at the Country Liberals annual conference in Darwin on Saturday, Mr Turnbull said the NT Government, led by Chief Minister Michael Gunner, was at risk of squandering the Territory’s “immense” resource opportunities.
“My message to Michael Gunner is: pull the trigger, get on with it,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The jobs, the investment, the opportunities that come with opening up 180 years of gas that you’re sitting on is endless.”
The NT Labor Government has put a 12-month moratorium on fracking while a fracking inquiry takes place.
“The answer is good engagement backed by science, not blanket bans,” Mr Turnbull said.
The Prime Minister used his speech to continue his attack on Labor and federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten over energy policy.
“The incompetence of the Labor Party in energy over a long period of time is hard to believe,” he said.
“I mean, Blackout Bill, fair dinkum, as my old dad would have said, he is so hopeless he could not find his backside with both hands.”
‘Long march’ to recovery for the ailing Country Liberals
Mr Turnbull was in Darwin to rally the Country Liberals who are attempting to rebuild their party after losing all but two seats in last year’s election wipeout.
“As the Territory’s only truly grassroots political movement, I am very confident the CLP will be back bigger and better than ever in three years’ time,” Mr Turnbull said.
A review of the CLP’s election defeat says the party has a “long march” back into office.
The report, by former Federal Liberal party president Brian Loughnane and former Nationals president Scott Mitchell, found “significant problems” with the Country Liberals’ 2016 campaign and a “dysfunctional” party and government in the four years leading up to the election.
The CLP’s term from 2012-2016 was plagued by scandal and division and the review highlights one submission that detailed a “chronology of destruction” during those years.
“There were sexual misadventures, allegations of corruption, an expressed want of confidence in the NT police, slurs against colleagues and staff, defections, perceived conflicts of interest, a failed clumsy attempt to dislodge Adam Giles as chief minister capped by the Don Dale controversy,” the review said.
Gary Higgins, CLP opposition leader and one of two MLAs remaining after the 2016 election. (ABC News: Mike Donnelly)
Collapse in party membership during previous term
The report revealed that while the Country Liberals were in office, instead of an increase in membership, there was a “collapse”, with almost half the party’s annually renewing members leaving.
It also shows the party failed to raise enough funds to fight the 2016 campaign, despite assurances from the party leadership that there was a $1 million campaign war chest.
“The debt by the end of August 2016 in itself was enough to take out the Country Liberals who had a near death experience electorally, financially and membership-wise,” the review said.
This weekend, the Country Liberals will decide whether to accept some or all of the 38 recommendations of the review.
One of the most controversial recommendations is that members of the former CLP government who lost their seats last year be “actively discouraged” from seeking preselection again.
This weekend, party president Shane Stone is expected to seek another year in the role.