364 have say on fracking in NT
THE Northern Territory Government has rejected claims there was a problem with the website that was set up to take submissions about the forthcoming inquiry into fracking in the NT.
In a statement last week, Frack-Free NT quoted members of the public who said they were told by people within government "that the webpage hasn't been capturing submissions" for the Draft Terms of Reference for the inquiry into hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional gas reservoirs.
Submissions for the inquiry's draft terms closed at midnight on October 13.
Two days beforehand, Frack-Free NT called on the government to extend the date for submissions because of the "technical issue".
In the Frack-Free statement, Pauline Cass said she contacted the Chief Minister's office to make sure her submission and others from family members had been received and was told there were issues.
"The IT guy in the Chief Minister's office told us there has been a technical issue and the webpage hasn't been capturing submissions," Ms Cass said.
"Getting the Terms of Reference right for the fracking inquiry is critical. It will determine if they actually get to research the things that matter to Territorians.
"I think it's only fair that the government makes a public announcement on their webpage fail and extends the consultation time on the Terms of Reference for another month.
"Hundreds of people could have put in submissions that have now been lost.
"This is a disaster for Territorians who have strong views on this issue and who have been disenfranchised by Minister Gunner rushing through this process in a bid to placate the gas industry."
The Frack-Free statement also said that Katherine residents found the same issue when they called to check their submissions were received.
A spokeswoman for Ken Vowles, the Minister for Primary Industry and Resources, told Rural Weekly there had been no issue with the website.
"There has not been any IT troubles preventing submissions from being entered," the spokeswoman said in an email reply to questions from Rural Weekly.
Meanwhile, the government said it had received 364 submissions for the Draft Terms of Reference.
The Minister for Environment and Natural Resources Lauren Moss said the number of submissions received from the community demonstrated the importance of an open and transparent process.
"The government has kept faith with the thousands of Territorians who voted for a moratorium on fracking and an open and transparent process of community consultation and scientific investigation," Ms Moss said.
"To have such a high level of response shows how important the community sees not just this issue, but engaging proactively with the government.
"The Northern Territory Government is pleased that so many people took the time to lodge a submission to have their voices heard."
Following the finalisation of the Terms of Reference, and the formation of the inquiry panel, public consultation sessions and meetings will be held in Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and other regional communities.
Ms Moss said the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional reservoirs within the Territory would remain in place until government had thoroughly considered the recommendations of the inquiry.