Subsidy offered ‘to take Greenpeace to court’

The federal government offered a $36.4 million subsidy to shale oil company Southern Pacific Petroleum (SPP) in exchange for the company taking Greenpeace to court, the environmental group said today.

Greenpeace said it had obtained a departmental email which referred to a 2002 cabinet decision to provide SPP with the subsidy each year if it took legal action against the group.

The email, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, was written by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources manager, refining and fuels, Marie Taylor.

It states: ‘…the government’s decision to put this arrangement in place was made subject to SPP taking legal action against Greenpeace and with the understanding that the viability and environmental impacts of the project would be made clear within this 12-month window.’

SPP was placed in receivership last December after it failed to raise enough cash to keep its controversial Stuart shale oil project in central Queensland operating.

SPP never took any legal action against Greenpeace, which had raised several concerns about the shale oil project.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Gareth Walton said Australians would be appalled by the government’s attempt to silence it.

‘Instead of making decisions in the public interest, the Howard government has been using taxpayers’ money to further its own political interest and the interests of a greenhouse-polluting industry,’ Mr Walton said.”






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