Tension builds up as Gas hub decision nears
Kimberley residents and supporters say No to Gas hub – Photo, Damian Kelly
Tension is building as the Woodside led joint venture project proposal for a $40 billion gas hub precinct on Walmandan (James Price Point) nears its May deadline for the decision of whether it will go ahead at the site. Nearby the intended site is Walmandan Tent Embassy where Goolarabooloo Senior Law Boss Phillip Roe has said he will die before surrendering Country.
In recent weeks more Goolarabooloo community members have arrived at Walmandan Embassy to lend their support to the Roe brothers, Phillip and Joseph (a Senior Law Boss) and to Elder Richard Hunter. Supporters from within Broome and the Kimberley and from around the country, including Simon Peterffy’s Forest Rescue campaigners are also arriving in significant numbers.
It is understood from a credible source that the Sea Shepherd will once again send one of its ships to James Price Point to bring on international attention as it did late last year with the Dr Bob Brown led Operation Minimbi.
“It is our Country, our Songlines, our heritage, our burial sites, our camping and fishing grounds they are looking at disturbing and destroying. We cannot allow this,” said Mr Phillip Roe.
In the latest reshuffle of the Government’s cabinet former Labor Party president Gary Gray has been elevated to the ministerial portfolio of Federal Resources and Energy. He replaces Martin Ferguson who resigned to the backbench after last week supporting Kevin Rudd to replace Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The pro-nuclear and pro-mining Mr Gray has come out in support of the offshore floating Liquified Natural Gas site. This alternative is preferable to many of the Goolarabooloo, Broome residents and environmentalist groups. Last year I broke the story (in The National Indigenous Times) that this option was on the table and was being pushed by some Woodside board members and executives and by some of their counterparts from their joint venture partners. Despite this at first being denied, months later it was admitted that the proposal was on the table. The proposal is still on the table.
The breeding waters of whales are nearby JPP – Photo, Kimberley Media
Last year the I broke the story (in The National Indigenous Times) that Chevron would pull out of the joint venture proposal, this too was denied but two months later Chevron pulled out.
Premier Colin Barnett has criticised the new Federal Resources and Energy Minister for his support for the offshore floating LNG processing site. Premier Barnett said if this occurred it would be a “tragedy” which would cost land-based Australian jobs.
But Phillip Roe said if it eventuated that the May decision will go the way of the land based site at Walmandan it would cost tens of thousands of years of cultural history, it would cost the well-being of the local peoples and would impact on the breeding grounds of the whales.
Premier Barnett said Mr Gray’s support for floating LNG technoglogy would hurt the local economy. “FLNG may be cheaper to build but it doesn’t bring the same level of long-term benefits to WA and Australia as an onshore site would.”
“It would be a tragedy for Australians if all these projects ended up as a floating LNG. No other country would allow that to occur.”
Mr Roe said what Premier Barnett said “was rubbish.” He said that a FLNG would still require workers and that putting up a job loss argument was “scare-mongering.”
What many environmentalist and pundits believe will occur if the LNG site is land-based is that in time a wider area will be subsumed into a multi-layered industrial complex, with the port to the world at James Price, and freight lines into the precinct from all over the Kimberley and the Pilbara. Bauxite, iron, aluminium, uranium – minerals and ores – will be resourced from the remote regions nearby and exported from the proposed James Price Point port. Furthermore, they believe that refining and processing of some of these minerals and ores may be established at the proposed site – only 60 kilometres north of Broome and environmentally devastate the region.
Mr Gray’s support for the floating LNG is significant because he was formerly the head of corporate affairs at Woodside Petroleum. He is definitely in the know.
Goolarabooloo Law Bosses, Phillip Roe and Richard Hunter with Eric Hunter in traditional pelican head dress – the pelican is the head dress of their particular Goolarabooloo group and symbolic of Walmandan (James Price Point) country – Photo, – Damian Kelly
In April 2000, he resigned from working for the ALP’s party hierarchy and accepted a role with Wesfarmers as the Executive Director of the WA Institute of Medical Research. The following year he was engaged as an adviser by Woodside Petroleum on what turned out to be their successful bid to defeat a takeover of Woodside by the Shell Oil Company. Following this Mr Gray was then invited to join Woodside as its Director of Corporate Affairs. Mr Gray sat on Woodside’s executive board. While at Woodside, Mr Gray represented them before many of the world’s governments – he was for Woodside an advocate and negotiator.
Mr Gray left Woodside in 2007, to contest the Federal elections for the WA seat of Brand replacing the retiring Kim Beazley. He then entered the Rudd Ministry.
Interestingly enough Mr Gray is also the Minister for Tourism, and the Kimberley is considered one of Australia’s tourist hotspots – steeped in biodiversity.