Under pressure, NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles dumps Woodside stock
Natasha Fyles has held the small parcel of shares, given to her by her grandma, since 1986. Photo: AAP
Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles has ditched her Woodside Energy shares after a growing backlash over potential conflicts of interest.
Ms Fyles owned 169 shares in Woodside, which she says were a gift from her grandmother in 1985.
She has faced growing pressure this week to divest the shares with media and federal politicians calling into question her decision-making, in particular her government’s large-scale expansion of the NT gas industry.
On Thursday she announced she would be ditching the shares, while arguing there had “never been any conflict of interest”.
“I have always declared shareholdings while a Member of Parliament, in accordance with the legislation,” she said in a statement.
“I have never had any dealings with Woodside as Chief Minister … the government has not had to make any decisions relating to Woodside or its interests.”
‘Not in line with the NT being habitable’
Federal senator David Pocock called on the Senate inquiry into the Middle Arm Precinct, an alleged “enabler” for fracking in the NT, to scrutinise her shareholding.
“This is the Labor chief minister who’s been pushing fracking in the NT and pushing for the development of something that is not in line with the NT being habitable,” he said on Tuesday
Ms Fyles defended the ownership of the shares on Wednesday, questioning why the media had suddenly picked up on the issue when they had been declared since she came to office.
Woodside is not a proposed tenant of the controversial Beetaloo Basin, however, it has contributed to a business case for carbon capture in the Middle Arm precinct.
Ms Fyles said she was ditching the shares to “end the distraction”.
“I will not let this be a distraction from the real issues facing the territory, or let it be used by the territory’s opponents to try and stop us from building the territory’s future,” she said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a new ministerial code of conduct after he was elected last year, requiring all federal ministers to divest their shares in public and private companies.