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Liveris Andritsos

Climate warning

key players behind vast Australian fossil fuel expansion

In early 2022, the lobbying firm Dragoman met its client, the Northern Territory government, to discuss how to convince the federal government to support a vast new port and manufacturing hub in Darwin.Now known as the Middle Arm sustainable development precinct, the hub will be a major manufacturing centre for gas, petrochemicals, blue and green hydrogen and critical minerals. The precinct is key to the territory’s ambition to develop its massive natural gas reserves in the Beetaloo basin and offshoreWith the federal election looming in May 2022, the lobbyists were keen to extract promises from the Coalition and Labor for the billions needed. According to documents seen by Guardian Australia, at the meeting were the former Liberal minister Robert Hill, now “chairman of counsellors” at Dragoman, and the former Labor leader Simon Crean, who had previously been engaged by Dragoman to help the French government-owned submarine company Naval Group improve its image with Labor. The new documents show how the Northern Territory government pursued a strategy to “influence the commonwealth government to support the establishment of gas-based manufacturing in the NT”. Central to that was the appointment of a lobbying firm in the lead-up to the election that would provide “deep political insight, analysis and strategic guidance”. This was viewed as an urgent task, with one email between senior NT bureaucrats in June 2021 noting “we are about to start the political giving season!”. What was said by the former politicians at the May meeting is not recorded in the documents, but the group discussed “potential alignments and leverages” – lobbyist speak for how to make the project appealing to both sides of politics. The Coalition was on board with a massive expansion of gas, but for Labor it was more complex: it was promising more rapid reductions in Australia’s greenhouse emissions. strategy was a resounding success. In the lead-up to the election, the Morrison government committed $1.5bn to the Middle Arm project. A few days later, Anthony Albanese followed suit. After Labor’s win, the October 2022 budget review statement confirmed the support with an equity investment in Middle Arm of $1.5bn. Later this year, the lobbyists, business figures and former politicians behind the push will pass another milestone in their quest to achieve one of the largest expansions of the fossil fuel industry in Australia’s history, when the NT government lodges its environmental impact assessment (EIS) for the project. Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup But some environmentalists fear that the financial commitments of state and federal governments to the project, now more than $2bn, mean it is already a done deal. Supporters of the 1,500-hectare Middle Arm development proclaim it as the linchpin in the NT government’s ambitious economic expansion plans. fb-messenger://share?link=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Faustralia-news%2F2023%2Fjun%2F19%2Frevealed-documents-detail-key-players-behind-vast-australian-fossil-fuel-expansion%3FCMP%3Dshare_btn_me&app_id=180444840287

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  • Kevin

    52 w

    The profiteers always in their element..never a]caring about people

    7
    • Tabitha Kimani

      52 w

      Profit vs people matrix.

      2
      • Joseph Githinji

        52 w

        This is alot of many channeled in the wrong direction, it's time to say no to such negatives investments no matter the profit for the sake of our planet.

        7
        • Joyce Waturu

          52 w

          There's enough evidence of egocentrism here in the push for such unjust pursuits that mean no good but evil to the planet by individuals and companies whose solemn interest is to fed for their insatiable greed. That should change nonetheless.

          13
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