National News

NT gas fracking ban could be lifted

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The new NT cabinet line-up: (from left) Peter Chandler, Robyn Lambley, Willem Westra van Holthe, Chief Minister Adam Giles, Gary Higgins and Peter Styles at their swearing in at Government House in Darwin on Friday, December 12, 2014. Absent are Attorney-General John Elferink, Bess Price and Matt Conlan. Mr Giles says this is the line-up for 2015, which will be a year dedicated to focusing on infrastructure and education. (AAP Image/Neda Vanovac)

The Northern Territory government could announce that it will lift a ban on the controversial practice of gas fracking as early as Tuesday.

The NT is divided over the issue, with environmental groups and scientists pressuring the Labor government to keep the moratorium due to impacts on water, land and public health.

But an independent report handed down last month found the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing of gas deposits could be managed and regulated.

Liberal Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said he believed the government would lift the ban because "the alternative just can't be contemplated" in relation to the territory's economy.

The NT economy and job numbers have slowed now that construction of the massive Inpex gas project has been completed.

The NT government's share of the GST will drop by $136 million in the next financial year on top of $269 million this year and it has a $1.3 billion budget deficit.

"When you talk about the potential of up to 18,000 jobs, it is very important," Mr Higgins told reporters.

"We've got to have something else to prop up the economy here, museums and car parks are not going to do that."

The 18,000 figure is based on Energy company Jemena saying last week it would provide up to 4,000 jobs expanding the Northern Gas Pipeline and submissions to the recently released inquiry.

The federal government has previously indicated it could try to penalise states with bans on gas exploration and development by cutting their GST.

© AAP 2018