Sir – The announcement that former Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles will be a general manager in Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting is a stark reminder of the blatant revolving door between politicians and mining companies and should be investigated.
The move, while shocking in its arrogant disregard for ministerial conventions, will for many simply confirm the priority set characterised by the Giles government: that ministers served corporate interests not voters and communities.
Chief Minister Giles was roundly criticised by pastoralists, traditional owners and rural landholders for his open slather approach to land access for mining companies where he failed to win support for his controversial fracking access reforms.
Yet while failing to serve the public, it’s clear his service to big mining interests has been noted and rewarded handsomely with a plum new position alongside Rinehart.
The Frack Free Alliance is supporting communities who continue to oppose Giles-era fracking plans on their land.
Traditional Owners in the Roper River region have campaigned for 18 months for the Giles Government to release critical information on its approval process for a contested gas exploration permit in 2015.
Jacaranda Minerals, a subsidiary of Hancock Prospecting, was granted large fracking exploration licences in the NT’s Mataranka region where gasfields are planned through the groundwater recharge area of the iconic hot springs.
In a letter to Adam Giles from April 2015, over 200 local traditional owners clearly state their case against the granting of petroleum exploration permits on their lands.
The letter includes: “We are putting the NT Government on notice that this project does not have our consent and we are preparing to take action to stop any attempts to harm our lands.”
In his role as Chief Minister, Giles not only failed to act on community concerns regarding unfair land access for Rinehart’s mining interests but he also had access to privileged information that can now be used to advance those interests further at the expense of local residents and businesses.
The former Chief Minister’s conduct in approving petroleum permits and land access should be under the spotlight of an ICAC investigation, and all contested exploration permits paused. The Gunner Government must instigate its promised ICAC inquiry and introduce legislative reforms that prevent this kind of revolving door behaviour between politicians and miners.
This sort of corporate cronyism must stop if voters are to have any restoration of faith in the impartiality and tight regulation of natural resource management, particularly when it comes to controversial proposals and fracking permits.
Territory Frack Free Alliance
ED: The Alice Springs News Online rang Mr Giles today to offer him the right of reply. He declined to comment.