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Gas pipeline study 'dirty deal': Labor MP

 

A "dirty deal" between the prime minister and independent Senator Nick Xenophon to build a north-south gas connection shows they don't "give a rat's" about the Northern Territory, federal Labor MP Warren Snowdon says.

Last week the Turnbull government struck a deal with the Nick Xenophon Team on company tax cuts in exchange for a feasibility study into a $1 billion pipeline, which the South Australian Senator says could help solve the nation's energy crisis.

But Mr Snowdon condemned a lack of consultation with the NT Labor government over the agreement, labelling it irresponsible and disrespectful.

"I am at an absolute loss to understand how any such deal could be entered into without the Territory being at the table," he said.

The member for the NT seat of Lingiari said neither Senator Xenophon nor Malcolm Turnbull appear to care about the NT government's moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

"Without knowing the future for the industry here, if there is to be one at all, this deal is simply extraordinary," Mr Snowdon said.

On Tuesday Malcolm Turnbull defended his negotiations with cross benchers against criticism from his predecessor Tony Abbott, who said the government should pass legislation on its merits rather than horse-trading.

Jemena, the company constructing the Northern Gas Pipeline, says its route between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa in Queensland is the most economical way to bring gas to the east coast market.

And a second gas pipeline connecting the NT to SA won't be commercially viable without fracking, the gas industry says.

The commonwealth is prepared to fund the north-south pipeline project, subject to national interest tests and the temporary ban on fracking being lifted.

Senator Xenophon would support unconventional gas exploration in the NT if it had scientific approval from the NT government's independent inquiry and long-term monitoring.

He didn't rule out a gas reservation policy and said the study would need the backing of both the NT and SA governments.