@ Mark Fraser (Posted April 30, 2018 at 8:58 am): …

Comment on Will gas royalties save the NT? Read the fine print. by Alex Nelson.

@ Mark Fraser (Posted April 30, 2018 at 8:58 am): Your comments ring a bell.
Consider these quotes: “In the interests of Northern development, it seems vital that gas from Mereenie should first be utilised to exploit the astonishing industrial potential of the Territory only awaiting the advent of cheap power, before any interstate claims on the gas are recognised.
“No company would be prepared to undertake the cost of full exploitation of such a vast field of natural gas without some assurance of a long range and continuous demand. This demand exists – within the Northern Territory.
“The provision of cheap power through the Northern Territory must result in rapid development. And besides bringing large-scale mining operations into early production, a pipeline from Mereenie could well transform Darwin from a ‘Public Service Town’ into a thriving manufacturing centre for South-east Asian markets.
“For natural gas is not only a source of cheap power. It is a raw material from which fertilisers, plastics and synthetic fibres are manufactured.
“A pipeline would give Darwin a manufacturing potential backed by heavy industries and, most important, provide fertilisers for a high rainfall region where the economic development of low fertility soils demands extensive use of fertilisers whose import costs are prohibitively expensive.
“Above all, it would mean cheaper power and low-cost domestic gas for the man in the street, and produce an agricultural as well as an industrial revolution in the Northern Territory from Alice Springs to Darwin – and beyond.
“And now is the time for long-range, constructive planning to decide how this tremendous reservoir of natural gas could best be utilised in the rapid development of the North. It can be done.”
Thus wrote local editor Paddy Ethell in November 1964, the year following the discovery of natural gas reserves in Central Australia.
Of course, 20 years later construction of the gas pipeline from Mereenie to Darwin did commence, and the project was completed in 1987. How was the Territory’s future envisioned 30 years ago?
“The Amadeus Basin to Darwin natural gas pipeline was the first chapter in the Territory’s unfolding energy story, Chief Minister Steve Hatton said last week.
“Mr Hatton was speaking at an official unveiling ceremony in Darwin to commemorate the completion of the pipeline. He told about 400 guests at the Darwin City Gate Gas Station the Territory was shedding the energy shackles of the past and stepping into a high-tech, gas-powered future.
“The use of gas would enable electricity costs to be stabilised and more flexible pricing arrangements to be introduced. Predictable pricing will allow energy-intensive industries to plan for the future, Mr Hatton said.
“An assured and realistic supply of energy will mean that the Territory will be able to produce manufactured goods at a competitive price and fulfil yet another of its ambitions – to become a major trading partner in South-East Asia.”
History clearly shows that, when it comes to natural gas exploitation, the rhetoric far exceeds the reality; and there is good reason to be wary of contemporary visions of great promise from the mining and energy sectors.
Shauna Mounsey is clearly well-grounded as evinced by her excellent article, and I appreciate her viewpoint very much.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Bob Taylor (Posted August 14, 2019 at 8:38 am): In this case grass wasn’t the problem, Bob, as even hard up against the trunk of the tree I noticed that none of it was burnt.
What seems to have happened was that a campfire was lit under one of the old exposed support roots of the tree and it was from this source that the flames spread into the trunk.
The roots in turn have been exposed by erosion exacerbated by the lowering of the river bed over a decade ago for flood mitigation.
The lowering of the river bed has also enabled campers to conceal themselves better from view. Unless the river bed is physically patrolled, no-one else knows they are there.


Invasive buffel grass soon part of international focus
The caption for the photo: “Dense infestation buffalo grass in land near the Alice Springs airport” brings back some memories. During my years at school in the 1970s, invariably when I spoke about buffel grass everyone thought I meant buffalo grass, a common variety of garden lawn. [ED– the autocorrect of ‘buffalo’ for ‘buffel’ has now been corrected, thanks Alex.]
As my home was at AZRI and then the new CSIRO field station next door, I was completely familiar with buffel grass during the time when its systematic introduction for dust control (especially for the Alice Springs Airport) and improved pasture was fully underway.
However, this was still the time when buffel grass was not yet dominant in the landscape so most people were unfamiliar with it.


Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm): Hello Ted, if you go to this link https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2013/07/11/when-gas-turns-to-hot-air/ and check out the CLP’s full page election advertisement from 1980, it’s just possible to make out that one of the energy options the NT Government was touting was “an experimental wind power generator for the Barkly Tablelands”.
The CLP was also giving consideration for nuclear power at that time, too.
Ah yes, we’re right into recycling!


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