Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kimberley braces for call of progress

Redhand and eyesoncountry are heartened that the L.N.G gas hub issue has gone national. The way the story has been represented in the following article is some of the most accurate journalism that we have monitored over the last few months.
Handsoffcountry.Stand up for the Planet.

Victoria Laurie | December 27, 2008
Article from the Australian

COLIN Barnett may feel he's earned his Christmas break after making a breakthrough this week in his bid to locate a gas processing industry in the Kimberley. But the West Australian Premier may also be steeling himself for new year hostility from environmental, Aboriginal and community groups, who held "No gas for the Kimberley" protest banners in Broome last week.

Barnett has announced James Price Point as his choice for the site of a liquefied natural gas processing precinct.

It is a flat, scrubby coastal strip 60km north of the tourist town of Broome.

Since unexpectedly wresting power from the Carpenter Labor government in September, Barnett has had one self-confessed goal: to secure an onshore site for processing Browse Basin gas, a huge untapped reservoir making up more than one-third of Australia's known gas reserves that lies 400km off the Kimberley coast.

Barnett has been spurred on by the keen interest of gas heavyweights such as Woodside, Shell, BP and Chevron in one day landing their Browse gas on Kimberley shores. "These are the biggest projects in the land," the Liberal Premier told a packed media conference this week. "One project's been lost, I don't intend to see a second one lost," he said, referring to the decision in September by Japanese gas producer Inpex to abandon its plans for a Kimberley gas processing plant and build instead in Darwin. "It was the most embarrassing episode in the state's history."

The Premier's actions have gained endorsement from no fewer than three federal Labor ministers, Jenny Macklin, Robert McClelland and Martin Ferguson. As federal Resources Minister, Ferguson declared Barnett's site selection was "a welcome step forward at a time when investment is desperately needed to create jobs and generate export dollars and revenue for the nation". Indigenous Affairs Minister Macklin and Attorney-General McClelland also weighed in with a joint statement that "the developers require certainty regarding access to the proposed site".

To that end, they said, the commonwealth would provide a facilitator to work with indigenous groups over negotiating access to traditional land.

On the surface it's all smooth sailing. Yet, until this week, Barnett's every utterance on the gas site seemed to attract an equal and opposite response. Barnett repeatedly stressed the need for haste; federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett warned as recently as last Monday against rushing into a decision about siting LNG plants in the Kimberley.

Last week, Barnett threatened to forcibly acquire land for a gas precinct if Aboriginal traditional owners (who have native title claims over most of the Kimberley) objected. The Kimberley Land Council, which has consulted 15 native title groups along the coast over possible gas sites, countered with a threat to take the state Government to court if it moved towards compulsory acquisition.

"We thought we'd moved on from the days of standing over people," says an angry KLC executive director Wayne Bergmann. "Colin Barnett is not about making an informed decision but about stealing land for big, rich mining companies."

Then came only half-favourable news for Barnett from the state's Environmental Protection Authority. Releasing its report into four short-listed gas hub sites, the EPA ruled out Barnett's first choice of site. North Head, 120km up the coast, was deemed unsuitable because of possible threats to humpback whales and proximity to the local Beagle Bay Aboriginal community. But it gave a tick to James Price Point. The EPA report also noted there were "numerous registered Aboriginal heritage sites in the area" and that the site would require "a significant breakwater, jetty, turning basin and possibly a shipping channel". Other concerns included the effects on whale migration and dugong feeding, and local fishing and camping.

Barnett's turbulent week ended with a crowd of protesting environmentalists, tour operators and local residents greeting him in Broome, after he dodged Cyclone Billy and flew up to survey gas hub sites. Hours later, Broome shire councillors passed a motion opposing a gas hub anywhere within the shire boundaries, which includes James Price Point.

Former Labor treasurer Eric Ripper, who drove the state's gas project until losing office, claims the federal Government intervened last week "to put the process back on track" and to persuade Barnett to "back off on his chest-thumping about compulsory acquisition". It's more likely that Barnett's cosy consultations with three federal ministers (he says he even discussed his gas hub plans with Kevin Rudd last Monday) were driven by sheer pragmatism about the need, in the present economic downturn, to clear impediments from the path of a prospective multi-billion-dollar industry.

Barnett was a resources minister in Richard Court's Liberal government and is honed in the art of political compromise. But it may prove less easy to tackle the hostility towards a Kimberley gas industry that is blowing up, cyclone-like, both locally and interstate.

A multiplicity of objectors have stepped forward, some making effective use of inter-
et and other media to convey their point.

The Red Hand - Hands Off Country YouTube site, for example, recently showed residents of Beagle Bay using a hand-held camera to record their displeasure over the prospect of gas plants on their stretch of the Dampier Peninsula, which includes North Head as well as James Price Point.

The camera is mounted on a car and driven down to James Price Point, a favourite fishing spot. "Colin Barnett and all you so-called leaders who are actually voted in for the best interests of our people, your decisions are affecting us in a very bad way," Aboriginal spokeswoman and singer Kerrianne Cox tells the camera.

Another Aboriginal activist, Albert Wiggan (who is backed by irate Kimberley tourism operators incensed by the gas plan), is shown spray-painting a banner. "We as a people are going to stand united and we're going to say no," he says.

Veteran actor Jack Thompson, who has a cameo role in Baz Luhrmann's epic film Australia, has lent his distinctive voice to environmental groups opposing the gas hub. "The Kimberley, one of the world's last great wildernesses, is under serious threat from industrialisation," he thunders in a cinema advertising clip launched in November by the WA Wilderness Society to coincide with the release of Australia. "Why can't we leave this special part of the planet untouched?"

However, Barnett's real challenge may lie in the unravelling of an indigenous consultation process that cost the former Labor state government $7million but, until now, has kept indigenous groups largely intact.

Under Labor, the Kimberley Land Council was invited to act as a one-stop shop for indigenous consultation over a gas site. A native title representative body that receives statutory funding from Canberra, the KLC proceeded to bring together native title groups from far-flung communities along the Kimberley's 1000km coastline.

For 14 months, it convened meetings across the region in bark shelters, community centres and hotel conference rooms.

KLC director Bergmann, one of the first Kimberley Aborigines to become a practising lawyer, attended them all, explaining the consultation process to traditional owners.

The deal between the state and the KLC was based on the undertaking that indigenous people would seriously consider a gas industry and the jobs and compensation it might bring, while weighing up any social or environmental drawbacks.

In return, the state government promised that the gas hub, in then-treasurer Ripper's words, "will only go ahead with the informed consent of Aboriginal people and with their substantial participation".

In other words, Aborigines would have veto power, a promise Barnett vowed last week he would never give.

Barnett has also argued that the KLC, despite spending $7 million, failed to come up with a suitable site (although Aboriginal groups whittled a list of nearly 50 possible sites down to four.)

Both Bergmann and Ripper insist the process was headed towards a final, consensual choice of one site by October. Instead, Carpenter went to an early state election in September and lost government for Labor.

Under Barnett's new gas process, which now includes a commonwealth-appointed facilitator, the KLC may have found itself dealt out of the game. Earlier this month, Bergmann described as offensive a compensation offer made by Woodside that sought Aboriginal clearance on four possible sites in return for a $500million package (spread over the life of the gas project.)

Now it has run out of money to conduct negotiations. Barnett says he is considering more funding, "but I recognise there are also other Aboriginal groups involved".

Last week, during his visit to Broome, Barnett met Joseph Roe, a Goolarabaloo elder whose community has a registered native title claim over James Price Point.

Roe has gathered together his own volunteer team of lawyers and anthropologists, claiming the KLC has failed to represent his point of view. (The KLC says it invited Roe to every gas meeting but he didn't attend.)

"Woodside and the Government are going to have to consult with us in addition to the KLC," says Roe's lawyer Marcus Holmes. "With James Price Point nominated, we need instant resourcing and on-country meetings."

The KLC insists there are other traditional owners who have asked it to negotiate access to James Price Point; the residents of Beagle Bay will no doubt also beat a path to Barnett's door with their views. Barnett is adamant that all indigenous parties have until the end of March to agree to terms under which the state Government can secure rights to a large area at James Price Point. Failing that, he will forcibly acquire the land.

John Watson, a KLC member and senior traditional owner from Jarlmadangah, near Derby, attended several gas consultations. He says Barnett's heavy-handed approach takes him back to 1980 when, as a young man, Watson manned the barricades at Noonkanbah Station in the central Kimberley.

An American-owned oil drilling rig entered sacred Aboriginal land with the explicit approval of then Liberal premier Charles Court, and the clash between Aborigines and miners made national headlines.

"Everybody was very strong at that time," recalls Watson, "and people came from outside the Kimberley to help us, white people, union people." He adds: "It could happen again with the gas hub."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PM Kevin Rudd backs Colin Barnett push for LNG hub

Victoria Laurie | December 24, 2008
Article from: The Australian
THE Rudd Government has backed West Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett's aggressive push to establish a controversial liquefied natural gas hub along the pristine Kimberley coast, north of Broome.

In what looms as the next big national environmental battleground, the West Australian Government yesterday announced that the gas precinct, which will process billions of dollars worth of LNG from the Browse Basin, would be at James Price Point, 60km north of the tourist town.

The decision has effectively stripped local Aborigines, led by the Kimberley Land Council, of any major political ally after the KLC rejected a $500million package from Woodside in return for approvals over four potential sites.

The KLC has spent 14 months and $7million of taxpayers' money in negotiating possible sites.

Mr Barnett said he would not allow another major development to fall over "on his watch". He was referring to Japanese-owned gas producer Inpex, which announced in September it would move to Darwin, abandoning its $15 billion bid to build a Kimberley gas plant amid uncertainty over a site.

The Premier said the commonwealth had accepted the possibility of compulsory acquisition of land if indigenous traditional owners, who had registered a native title claim over the area, failed to reach agreement with the state by the end of March. "These are the biggest projects in the land," Mr Barnett said. "I do not intend to loseanother."

He said his Government had delivered long-sought certainty to the leading contenders to build the gas plant, the Woodside joint venture partners, over a site. He was also hopeful Inpex would reconsider Western Australia as an option.

Hundreds of jobs, millions of investment dollars and long-term economic diversification for Broome and the West Kimberley were at stake, he said.

The Carpenter Labor government had been wrong to offer Aborigines aveto over gas developments, Mr Barnett said.

The West Australian Government has agreed to a commonwealth proposal to appoint a facilitator to work with indigenous claimants towards a negotiated outcome.

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said Mr Barnett had made "a welcome step forward at a time when investment is desperately needed to create jobs and generate export dollars and revenue for the nation".

KLC executive director Wayne Bergmann said he was reassured by the commonwealth's role in land negotiations. But he accused the state Government of wedge politics, after Mr Barnett announced that he would deal with the KLC and "any other indigenous parties" with an interest in James Price Point.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Storm in a Billy's Tea Cup

Eyesoncountry thinks it is ironic that the planetary forces are gathering in cyclonic fashion in response to Barnett's announcement regarding James Priceless Point.How can anyone claim that an LNG Gas hub on such a cyclonically vulnerable coastline would pose no environmental damage or danger.
Like the cyclonic winds, national outrage and objections are building momentum to blow and block this type of industrial greed and wanton environmental destruction out of the water. We no longer live on a planet that can afford or support the greed of people who suffer from illusions of grandeur, who think they have the right to dictate and destroy the future of our children and the planet.
Hands Off Country.Stand up for the Planet.

James Priceless Point Sanctuary for Whales

Today’s announcement by the Premier of Western Australia, Mr Colin Barnett, of the preferred site for an LNG processing precinct at James Price Point, supported by the Chairman for the EPA, Paul Vogel, ignores critical environmental data from independent whale surveys and the recently released “Draft North-West Marine Bioregional Profile” carried out by the Federal Department of Environment and Heritage for Peter Garrett.

The waters surrounding James Price Point have one of the highest concentrations of humpback whales on the Kimberley Coast. An independent survey by Kimberley Whales in conjunction with the WA Naturalist Club showed that the concentration of whales between Broome and James Price Point during the peak migration period in August, was greater than anywhere else on the coast.

The establishment of an industrial complex and large scale shipping port will pose a major threat to cows and calves using the coastal waters in this fragile marine environment. Colin Barnett’s desperation to deliver a hub site for the oil and gas industry makes a mockery of the consultation process and the environmental approvals process at both a state and federal level.
The Northern Development Taskforce Force’s terms of reference has not allowed for the consideration of Woodside’s preferred options, namely floating LNG, Scott Reef or piping the gas to the Burrup.

Barnett should expect stiff opposition from local environmental groups who are determined to ensure that the Kimberley coast remains one of the great wilderness areas left on the planet.

Kimberley Whales
Richard Costin

James Price Point Premier's Media Release

""> Colin Barnett
Premier (includes Federal-State Relations; Public Sector Management; Government Accountability); State Development

Tue 23 December, 2008

Liberal-National Government makes decision on LNG precinct

Portfolio: Premier, State Development

James Price Point, about 60 kilometres from Broome, has been chosen as the site for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) precinct in the Kimberley.

Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett said the exact location of the LNG precinct would be determined after full consideration of significant cultural, heritage and environmental values of the area and further technical feasibility studies.

The Premier made the announcement after a visit and inspection of the potential sites earlier this week and meetings with indigenous representatives, environmental groups and local government.

“After extensive consideration, James Price Point has been declared the location most likely to work best for the Kimberley community, for the environment, for industry and for Western Australia’s future economic development,” Mr Barnett said.

“This is a significant step forward; the site has still to undergo a full environmental impact assessment and more detailed technical and social impact studies, before a final approval is given.

“Nomination of James Price Point fulfils this Government’s commitment to urgently identify a site on the Kimberley coast to stimulate WA’s future growth.”

Since 2007, more than 40 possible Kimberley sites were considered and four sites, including James Price Point, were short-listed in October 2008.

The Premier said the Government will now focus its energy on working with traditional owners to secure land tenure over the site and completing social impact assessments to ensure that the project can deliver the benefits it promises, without compromising the special character of Broome and the wider Kimberley region.

“Our aim is to acquire the site by consent. This could include restoring rights equivalent to native title over the site at the cessation of LNG processing. Compulsory acquisition of the land remains an option,” Mr Barnett said.

“With respect to acquisition of the site area, the WA Government has agreed to a proposal by the Commonwealth to fund a facilitator to work with the key parties (WA Government, Woodside, indigenous interests and relevant Commonwealth agencies) towards a negotiated resolution to acquire the site.

“This process has a completion date of March 31, 2009, after which the State Government will begin land acquisition processes.

“WA appears to have lost one major project to Darwin because the previous Labor government could not make a decision to secure the $15billion Inpex project. I do not intend to lose another.

“I am confident that the Woodside Joint Venture partners will choose to use the precinct rather than pursue the option of piping gas 850 kilometres to the Burrup Peninsula, but ultimately that is a decision for industry.

“I am also hopeful that Inpex might reconsider a WA option, for either its Ichthys field or for future gas developments, provided we can provide certainty of tenure over the site.”

Mr Barnett said the development could bring hundreds of jobs, millions of investment dollars and long-term economic diversification for Broome and the West Kimberley.

He said the James Price Point location provided a range of potential development sites along a 10km coastal strip and offered:

• flexibility in locating jetties and processing operations to meet heritage and environmental requirements
• ease of expansion for two, or more than two LNG processing operators should that be required during the life of the Browse basin gas field
• no settlement, homes or businesses within 20 kilometres of the proposed site

The area could easily accommodate a 1,000 to 2,000 hectare, buffered industrial estate, 300 to 400 kilometres from offshore gas producers in the Browse Basin. The Dampier Peninsula has a land area of 14,000 square kilometres.

The Dampier Peninsula coast from Broome to Cape Leveque is about 200 kilometres long - the equivalent of the distance between Perth and Bunbury.

The Browse Basin has proven reserves of 27.5 trillion cubic feet of gas (Tcf) and 600 million barrels of condensate. Gas reserves are estimated at 60 Tcf, making the area comparable to the North West Shelf in terms of prospectivity.

The site selection brings to a natural conclusion the work of the Northern Development Taskforce. Continuing consultation with interested parties will be led by the new Department of State Development which will come into being on January 1, 2009.

The Northern Development Taskforce started work on selecting a site for an LNG development in the Kimberley in June 2007. It has produced or commissioned at least 22 reports into environmental, indigenous and other issues surrounding the proposal.

There were also 243 written submissions on the site selection (shortlist) report plus 46 verbal submissions, a three day workshop in Broome in July and an Environmental Protection Authority report and other reports commissioned by the Commonwealth.

Premier's office - 9222 9475

James Priceless Point points to biggest environmental confrontation since the Franklin!!!

The West Australian government is prepared to compulsorily take land for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) precinct, Premier Colin Barnett says. A site, 60km north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula, has been chosen as the location for a Kimberley LNG precinct, the West Australian government announced on Tuesday.

Premier Colin Barnett said a 10km strip of land at James Price Point offered a range of potential development sites that could provide facilities for gas producers in the Browse Basin, 300km to 400km offshore from the WA coast. The decision follows a study by the WA government's Northern Development Taskforce, which was established in June last year and looked at 40 possible sites for the multi-billion dollar Kimberley precinct.

It arrived at four preferred sites, including the Dampier Peninsula locations of James Price Point and North Head, Anjo Peninsula, much further north near the WA-Northern Territory border, and Gourdon Bay, to the south of Broome. Mr Barnett had favoured North Head, 140km north of Broome, which was the subject of an adverse environmental report last week.
He said while technical and economic considerations had favoured the choice of North Head, "a balance of factors" had led to the choice of James Price for the 1,000 to 2,000 hectare industrial estate. "It was not determined solely on technical or engineering grounds, not determined solely by environmental issues and not determined solely by Aboriginal and cultural issues," Mr Barnett told reporters.

He reiterated the government was prepared to compulsorily acquire the land if an agreement could not be reached with Aboriginal groups, including the Kimberley Land Council, within three months. He said he hoped assessments and negotiations with all parties could be completed within a year. "There needs to be a full and detailed environmental assessment, there needs to be negotiations and hopefully agreement with indigenous people of the area," Mr Barnett said.
"With respect to indigenous issues it has been agreed by the state and commonwealth governments, there will be period of three months during which time we hope to reach a consent agreement with Aboriginal people for the government to acquire secure title over that site.
"The commonwealth will provide a mediator to work with the commonwealth, the state government and Aboriginal groups to try to resolve that issue.

"Hopefully that will succeed. In the event that it does not succeed then the state will be prepared to proceed with compulsory acquisition of that site. "But I am optimistic that we can reach an agreement on that site."

Kimberley Land Council executive director Wayne Bergmann said the area's traditional owners had given instruction for the KLC to negotiate an in-principle agreement to move forward with the plans. But, he said, there was a caveat that the interested parties must receive "good information" in order to make "an informed decision based on environmental, cultural and social impact studies". And there was "a huge amount of risk" in Mr Barnett's threat to compulsorily acquire the land if no agreement could be reached, he said. "That's where the tension is," Mr Bergmann said. "If we aren't able to find a balance by end of March we could be heading for a major confrontation. "Aboriginal people would prefer to have this negotiated. "This is way bigger than the premier or any individuals. It will affect generations. "It's got to be a fact-based decision taking into account the environmental and social impacts."

The Australian Conservation Foundation and a range of environmental groups condemned the government's move to establish the precinct. The ACF said Mr Barnett may be getting ahead of himself, and should remember that it is the commonwealth government that will have the final say on the LNG site. "Mr Barnett should remember that any LNG processing proposal for the Kimberley will be subject to approval by the Commonwealth Environment Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act," ACF executive director Don Henry said.

Mr Barnett said he held out hope that the establishment of the precinct would help convince Japanese oil and giant Inpex to locate its refinery operations in WA, rather than build an 800km pipeline to a $17 billion refinery in Darwin as it plans to do.

Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said Mr Barnett's announcement was a welcome step forward at a time when investment was desperately needed to create jobs and generate export dollars.
© 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Barnett refuses to rule out North Head gas hub

Barnett has been given very clear warnings and instruction not to go to James Prices Point by appropriate heritage and cultural bosses. Eyesoncountry suspects that North Head is still very much on Barnett's agenda.Following is an article that first appeared in The West on the 22nd December 2008, 7:15 WST

Colin Barnett has revealed he is still considering North Head as the site for the State’s first LNG precinct, in a move that put him at odds with WA’s environment watchdog which warned it could pose unmanageable environmental risks and force the closure of nearby Aboriginal communities.

The Premier said yesterday that the report released by the Environmental Protection Authority last week was only one aspect of his considerations, which needed to be balanced with social, cultural, land and technical issues.

“It’s fair to say it’s basically come down to North Head or James Price Point and that’s why I wanted to visit those two sites,” he said.

“The EPA report is one factor, an important factor . . . certainly I have taken it into account.

“Some would say North Head is well away from Broome and that’s an advantage, but others would say James Price Point is a bit too close to Broome so there are a whole host of factors and that’s what is being weighed up at the moment.”

In what was expected to be a major blow to Mr Barnett’s preferred site of North Head, the EPA released advice warning that the location, 125km north of Broome, would also interfere with a humpback whale breeding ground.

Both of the Premier’s preferred sites are expected to face widespread revolt, with conservation groups, some indigenous groups and the Broome Shire Council opposing the development on the environmentally sensitive Dampier Peninsula.

Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen said he was concerned Mr Barnett appeared to be committed to naming a site by Christmas, even though the joint strategic assessment, which would consider other areas including the Pilbara, had not been completed.

A group of local indigenous, environmental and business groups, named the Kimberley Accord, said it was integral the strategic assessment was completed before any decision was made because “short-sighted” decision-making could spell disaster for the region.

Broome Shire Council president Graeme Campbell said the council had passed a motion declaring it was opposed to the LNG hub being built on the coastline within its boundaries.

Conservation group WWF warned that part of the organisation’s turtle tracking program was closing in on the Dampier Peninsula, with a second turtle tracked by satellite from Indonesia to the Kimberley in less than a year.

“LNG development can involve the dredging of millions of cubic metres of rock which can smother and choke seagrass beds and coral reefs. Boating traffic and blasting can disturb and harm turtles, dugong and whales,” WWF program leader Paul Gamblin said.

The matter will be discussed in Cabinet today but a decision is not expected until at least tomorrow.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Barnett talks from His Bottom Line

Below is an interview from a few days ago, but clearly illustrates the slapdash approach of the premier and his one man show. Obviously, Barnett would do well to visit the areas he hopes to annihilate because apparently these sites are not pristine nor spectacular. Clearly, this illustrates that the man has never visited the Dampierlands for any length of time.
And about that
bottom line .Eyesoncountry believes that a true and honest bottom line should hold three components equal:
environment, social and economic. If any one of these components are missing or not taken into equal consideration than it is proven that these project fail in everyway.

Premier Barnett's doorstop
Premier, I understand you’re meeting with the Kimberley Land Council…

Ah, yes…

… and Wayne Bergmann said that the Council’s urging… urging you not to engage in compulsory acquisition of their land up there in the process for the... for the exercise. What’s the... what’s the story there? What’s the score?

Well, the reality is that as it stands at the moment the State has lost the Inpex project. We are doing all that is possible to keep the door open and to try and attract Inpex back. But for the moment they are working on the basis that they will build their plant in Darwin. That means that all of the benefits associated with that project, including Aboriginal benefits, are lost to the people of the Kimberley. The other project is Woodside’s Browse project. Woodside and myself and the Government are doing all that is possible to ensure that project proceeds and that the gas comes onshore with the LNG plant on the Kimberley coastline, just to the north of Broome.

Now that is not going to be easy to achieve and what needs to happen is that the site needs to be identified, that will happen before Christmas, and then measures put in place to make that site State property. And that, hopefully, will be done by consent agreement – that would always be the preference. However, the State will, at the same time as identifying the site, proceed with the necessary preparatory work to acquire that site.

So did you ask for the meeting with Mr Bergmann today?

No, he sought the meeting and I’m happy to meet with him and I’m intending to go to Broome later in the week. There’s a cyclone hovering around so depending where that goes will determine whether I go. But that’s the plan: to go there and look at the sites and also meet with the Shire and I think also meeting with some of the environmental groups.

So when would you hope to make a decision?

Ah, the site will be identified prior to Christmas, that’s the intention.

Then compulsory acquisition then is not out of the question?

No. I made that very clear during the election campaign and it is not something unusual. This process… and bear in mind the Kimberley Land Council has been given under the previous government $7 million. A lot of money, a lot of money. Now I’m not about to hand over more money for a process that doesn’t have a conclusion. I would always prefer a consent agreement, that is in the interests of all parties to do that.

But you know, without being dramatic, if this land is not secured by the State and then available to be leased out to proponents of LNG, then there will be no LNG project in the Kimberley and there will be no benefits for the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley, and there will be no benefits for the wider economy of the Kimberley, and that’s the bottom line. One project’s been lost, I don’t intend to see a second one being lost.

And that’s effectively what you’ll be telling Wayne Bergmann?

I’ve told Wayne Bergmann from the time of the last election that was the State’s position. The Commonwealth was aware of that, they are broadly supportive of it. All parties would want to see an agreed consent. And can I again stress that the two sites… the favoured sites – North Head and James Price Point – are not on that part of the Kimberley coast that most people identify as that pristine spectacular coast line. It is not that part of the Kimberley, it is the area on One Arm Point to the north of Broome, okay?

So are you hoping to then... to make a recommendation to Cabinet on Monday week? That's really your last chance, isn't it?

Ah I don’t discuss Cabinet, but we will identify the site.

Premier, given these figures, are you still determined to push on with the State kicking in for Oakajee?

Ah, well I’ll talk... I’m not going to discuss it. The Treasurer handles the Budget and that’s his... that’s his job. Oakajee is… as Troy Buswell said, Oakajee is before Infrastructure Australia. It is arguably the most important economic development project for this State for perhaps the next 20 years. To make sure it happens the State will need to play a role, hopefully with the Commonwealth, and that’s what we’re about. This is about economic development and developing a whole new region of Western Australia.

Do you accept the loss of our Triple-A credit rating in the next couple of years?

No, we’re not going to entertain that. I’m sorry, I’m not... I’m not second guessing the... I’m happy to answer questions on other topics but I’m not doing a re-run. The Treasurer has responsibility for the State’s finances and he is doing a superb job and indicated today his comprehension of the issues and the preparedness to act on them.

Well Oakajee...

No, I’m not doing...

...Oakajee is your baby, Premier. I mean if you insist on that going through it will put more pressure on the Budget.

Well I’m not answering the Budget. Oakajee has got a way to go. On Oakajee itself there is a draft agreement between the proponents and the State that is being finalised now and I hope that we will be in a position shortly to sign that agreement, and the Commonwealth will be provided with a copy of that agreement. The private proponents will then have to go into their detailed feasibility for their part of the project which is basically two-thirds of the total.

Weather permitting you’re off to Broome tomorrow, is that right?

Planning to go to Broome, yep, weather permitting. Okay? All right, thank you, thank you.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Environmental Protection Authority has released early environmental advice

The Environmental Protection Authority has released early environmental advice on the Western Australian Government's site evaluation process for a multi-user liquefied natural gas processing precinct to process gas resources from the Browse Basin on the Kimberley coast.

EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said that, based on available data, of the four sites under consideration environmental risks and impacts are likely to be manageable at two sites, Gourdon Bay south of Broome and James Price Point north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula."The other two sites, North Head and Anjo Peninsula are not considered suitable for large scale industrial development from an environmental point of view, Anjo peninsula also has wildness values that would be threatened," Dr Vogel said.'

North Head has nearby settlements likely to be affected by emissions and whale calving and resting grounds immediately offshore.'In formulating the report the EPA has taken into account advice on the size of precinct that may be needed as, once established, the site is likely to attract further large proposals in the future.

'For James Price Point the risk of future expansion being significantly constrained is likely to be low, at Gourdon Bay future expansion may be limited by the frontage available with direct access to deep water if the precinct is laid out with jetties south of Cape Latouche Treville.

'The EPA also strongly supports evaluation of the national heritage values of the Kimberley with a view to conserving and protecting significant, representative marine and terrestrial areas and determining opportunities for joint management between Government and traditional owners; it is important that this is done in parallel with the LNG precinct assessment process.

'There are also a number of important issues that have been raised through the site evaluation process and the public submissions period which are best addressed by other government agencies; issues in relation to the downstream planning and infrastructure needs of the precinct, pressures on the coastal environment from an influx of people and socio-economic impacts.

'The sites examined in the EPA's report have not been subject to formal environmental assessment. A formal environmental assessment of a strategic proposal will be undertaken to fulfil this requirement for whichever site is chosen.

Future proposals which are brought forward and which fit within the assessed strategic proposal, known as derived proposals, will not generally be subject to further assessment by the EPA.'Any additional developments requiring an increase in the overall footprint of an approved precinct would be subject to further comprehensive environmental assessment at the time, particularly in terms of cumulative impacts,' Dr Vogel said.

EPA snubs Premier's choice for LNG hub

The state environment watchdog has rejected Premier Colin Barnett's preferred location for a liquefied natural gas hub in the Kimberley, saying nearby settlements are likely to be affected by emissions. The Environmental Protection Authority today released its advice for a multi-user LNG processing precinct that will process gas from the Browse Basin.

Four sites were shortlisted by the state government and the Kimberley Land Council, which represented the traditional land owners, with Anjo Peninsula, Gourdon Bay, James Price Point and North Head named as suitable areas.

Premier Colin Barnett had previously named North Head as his preferred location. Today the EPA recommended Gourdon Bay, south of Broome, and James Price Point, north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula, as the two sites where environmental risks and impacts are likely to be manageable. "The other two sites, North Head and Anjo Peninsula are not considered suitable for large scale industrial development from an environmental point of view, Anjo peninsula also has wildness values that would be threatened," EPA chairman Paul Vogel said.

'North Head has nearby settlements likely to be affected by emissions and whale calving and resting grounds immediately offshore.'In formulating the report the EPA has taken into account advice on the size of precinct that may be needed as, once established, the site is likely to attract further large proposals in the future.'For James Price Point the risk of future expansion being significantly constrained is likely to be low, at Gourdon Bay future expansion may be limited by the frontage available with direct access to deep water if the precinct is laid out with jetties south of Cape Latouche Treville." Dr Vogel stressed that Gourdon Bay and James Price Point have not been subject to formal environmental assessment.

A formal environmental assessment of a strategic proposal will be undertaken to fulfil this requirement for whichever site is chosen, Dr Vogel said. Yesterday, Mr Barnett said a decision on the site will be made before Christmas with a meeting with the KLC scheduled later for this week, depending on cyclone activity.

The Premier also did not rule out compulsory land acquisition for the LNG hub development. "...without being dramatic, if this land is not secured by the State and then available to be leased out to proponents of LNG, then there will be no LNG project in the Kimberley and there will be no benefits for the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley, and there will be no benefits for the wider economy of the Kimberley, and that's the bottom line,"

Mr Barnett said. "One project's been lost, I don't intend to see a second one being lost." In September, Inpex chose the Northern Territory ahead of WA for the construction of an LNG facility for its Ichthys project.

Woodside Petroleum is evaluating potential sites for its Browse Basin project, with the LNG hub as one option. The company is also evaluating the option to process the gas at its North West Shelf operation or its Pluto LNG project.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Environs Kimberley supports Shire of Broome decision

Media Release 17th December, 2008
Environs Kimberley welcomes Broome Shire Council motion rejecting LNG Hub
Environs Kimberley has welcomed Broome Shire Council’s decision to send a strong message to WA Premier Colin Barnett rejecting the development of an LNG hub or precinct on the coast within the Shire of Broome.
The motion, which was promoted by Cr Nik Wevers and passed 5 votes to 4, argued that an LNG hub would cause: “extreme and permanent destruction of marine and terrestrial environments which are of national and international significance”.
The motion also outlined the risks of an LNG precinct to existing industries within the Shire of Broome such as pearling, fishing and tourism as well as potential destructive impacts on Indigenous cultural and heritage values.
“This is a great outcome for Broome and for the Dampier Peninsula environment,” said EK Director Martin Pritchard.
“Now we just have to hope the Premier listens and takes account of local opinions and sentiments.”
Council also moved a motion requesting the Premier to provide advice on the State Government’s plans for continuing the Northern Development Taskforce and requested a commitment regarding socio-economic and industry impact studies.
“We are looking forward to participating in the Shire’s proposed forum and static exhibition which will inform and educate people within the Shire on the direct impacts - economic, environmental and social - of an LNG hub or precinct,” Mr Pritchard said.
“We urge the Premier to look into alternative sites in the Pilbara which already have existing infrastructure.”
Media Contact:
Martin Pritchard: 08 9192 1922 or 0427 548 075

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Barnett on Country, James Price's Point & North Head, Friday


Many people are aware Colin Barnett is currently in the Kimberley and is planning to make his: announcement of his preffered site and intention to exercise compulsory acquistion of country for the gas hub.

Eyesoncountry has been informed that Colin Barnett is planning to visit both James Price Point and North Head on Friday the 19th of December to make his accouncement.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Urgent Call For Support at Shire Council Meeting Today

Eyesoncountry are seeking your urgent support for Cr Wevers and her brave attempt to ensure the Shire does not support a gas precinct within the Shire of Broome and that the Shire also follows through with its own vision and mission statements.

We are encouraging all concerned people to email all shire councillors and raise their concerns.You can also support Cr Wevers in her endevours, by attending the Broome Shire Council's meeting, today, 17th December 2008.

Cr Wevers has put forward the following motion(in short) that "That the Council advises the Premier, Mr Colin Barnett, that it does not support the location of a gas processing hub/precinct in the Shire of Broome".

Redhand would like to apologise for not bringing this to your attention sooner , however it appears that we have been suffering from unexplainable blogging blocks!

Below is a list of correct and current email addresses for Broome Shire Councillors.Apparently, incorrect email addresses are currently circulating:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Whale area put Japanese firm off Barnett gas hub

13th December 2008, 9:30 WST

The Japanese company Colin Barnett wants to lure back to WA to build a $25 billion gas plant in the Kimberley does not like his preferred site for the State’s first LNG precinct because it is a whale resting area.

Documents obtained by The West Australian under Freedom of Information laws reveal that in July Inpex wrote to Duncan Ord, chairman of the State Government’s northern development task force, warning that a number of the shortlisted sites, including North Head, were not suitable for several reasons including the threat they posed to whales.

In October when the Premier released the task force’s report, which shortlisted four possible sites for the project, he controversially named North Head, 26km north of Beagle Bay, as his preferred site.

After Inpex announced it would build its gas plant in Darwin rather than the Kimberley, Mr Barnett admitted that his desire to lure the company’s gas development back to WA had helped form his decision to nominate North Head as his preferred site.

Inpex has repeatedly stated its favoured Kimberley site is Maret Islands, located off the coast and not a shortlisted site, while documents reveal it would also consider the Anjo Peninsula.

In an email attached to the letter to Mr Ord, Inpex said its research suggested the whale issue was a potential gas development showstopper.

“Inpex . . . would certainly struggle to endorse any location that interferes directly with whale calving/resting/migration,” the email said.

On Thursday, about 500 locals attended a Save the Kimberley rally in Broome to protest against Mr Barnett’s push to industrialise the region.

North Head has been identified as a nursery for humpback whales and a feeding ground for flatback turtles, both of which are vulnerable species.

The FOI documents also reveal that Inpex gave the Kimberley Land Council more than $4 million during negotiations for a possible site for a gas processing hub and repeatedly warned the previous Labor government it was considering building its gas plant in Darwin rather than off the WA coast.

Inpex wrote to Mr Ord in February detailing the funding it had paid to the KLC between 2006 and January this year.

This funding was on top of the almost $7 million paid to the KLC under a financial agreement with the previous government to consult traditional landowners over gas development in the region.

Mr Barnett said on Thursday the KLC, which had asked the State Government for another $2 million to consult traditional owners, would not get any more large payments.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Shire debates Turtles' nesting on Cable Beach, Broome

Photos by Rodger Grohmann

THIS WEEK: A female flatback turtle returning to the water after nesting on Cable Beach at 6.00pm Sunday 7th December in the public swimming area.

Next Wednesday 17th December, the Shire of Broome will debate closing Cable Beach from sunset to sunrise for the turtle nesting season.

You are encouraged to write to the Shire Councillors to express your opinion on this debate.

Shire President. Graeme Campbell -
Deputy Shire President. Chris Mitchell -
Cr. Michael Albert -
Cr. Shelley Eaton -
Cr. Elsta Foy - phone fax 61 8 9192 739
Cr. Rob Lander -
Cr. Chris Maher -
Cr. Peter Matsumoto -
Cr. Nik Wevers

The turtles breeding on Cable Beach must be protected

Dolphins Taiji City Council and Shire of Broome

The Shire will also debate the issue of dolphins' slaughter in Taji Japan. Taiji is Broome's Sister City and has been for many years. See Item 11.4 TAIJI on the agenda 17 December at Further information and a good video can be seen at

Missy Higgins sings for the Kimberley

Article from: The Australian,25197,24789726-16947,00.html

AUSTRALIAN pop star Missy Higgins has given an internet-only performance from her new home town of Broome to highlight the threat to the Kimberley region from industrialisation.

Iain Shedden, Music writer | December 12, 2008

The award-winning singer from Sydney moved to Broome a year ago and says her new environment has inspired her songwriting.

Higgins, 25, wrote half of her second album, On A Clear Night, in her adopted home town.

``I know that there are plans for some serious industrialisation up in the Kimberley coast,'' she says in the seven-minute film clip.

On Thursday 500 local residents attended a Save the Kimberley rally in Broome to protest against WA premier Colin Barnett's proposals for the compulsory purchase of land in the Kimberley region for industrial development.

The previous day, Mr Barnett revealed to local business leaders his plan to forcibly acquire land from Aboriginal people in the Kimberley that would provide the site for a gas-processing precinct.

``We can't just let the oil and the gas companies come and destroy this beautiful land," Higgins says. "This is a criminal thing to do to this part of the country. It's just wrong.''

The clip also shows Higgins making her first public performance in Broome, singing her song Going North at a local bar.

She explains that the song is about going to Broome and also about standing up for what you believe in.

``The Kimberley has something really powerful and special about it,'' Higgins says.

``It gets under your skin. I felt a connection there to my country that I didn't feel in the city.

``It has taught me a real respect for the land and for my country that I never really apppreciated before.''

Higgins, who left Australia this week to perform in the US, has been expanding her career while in Broome.

She is one of the musicians with an acting role in director Rachael Perkins's film Bran Nue Day (should be Dae).

The feature film, starring Geoffrey Rush, Deborah Mailman and Tom Budge, is being shot in and around the town.

As Redhand has said before, there are around 34,000 people who live in the Kimberley, 15,000 who live in Broome and less than 2,000 who live on the Dampier Peninsula where North Head and James Price Point are located. We need help from around Australia and from around the world to protest the Western Australian State Government's planned compulsory acquisition of land for an LNG gas hub/precinct which will cause vast environmental damage and social dislocation of community.

Support from more people like Missy Higgins is needed - and appreciated.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Broome Community does not support LNG development on the Kimberley coast.

The rally of about 300 people held in Broome today made it clear that the development of an LNG gas hub or precinct is not welcome here.

Yes, we love the Kimberley.

The Premier Mr Barnett must understand Kimberley people will not support his proposal without proper engagement with the community, protection of Aboriginal heritage, advancement of the environment and encouragement of enterprise that is entirely conducive with the needs of our community and the special wilderness that we all currently enjoy.

elsta foy  rally 11 dec 2008

Speakers included Neil McKenzie, Albert Wiggan, Marty Sibosado and hosted by Kevin Blatchford, Save the Kimberley. (videos soon).

Pamphlets promoted:

LNG in the Kimberley is NOT "inevitable".
There ARE alternatives to a gas precinct in the Kimberley!
The Kimberley is one of the last unspoilt wilderness areas in the world - lets keep it that way!

marchers 11 dec 2008

Protests will continue.

Hands off country. Stand up for the planet.


First Broome street march and rally against the LNG proposal attracts about 250 people 

The Premier's latest announcement on gas precinct site

December – NDT announces James Price Point as its recommended site for an LNG

processing precinct gas hub site to be known shortly

Posted 8 hours 38 minutes ago
Updated 8 hours 32 minutes ago
Kimberley hub site to be named shortly
Colin Barnett to name Kimberley hub site within a fortnight
The Premier Colin Barnett says the Government has narrowed down to two sites, the location for an industrial gas hub in the Kimberley.
Mr Barnett has told a business luncheon in Perth, the two sites are North Head, about 125 kilometres north of Broome, and James Price Point, about 60 kilometres north of Broome.
Previously, Mr Barnett has named North Head as his preferred site.
A final decision will be made within a fortnight.
Mr Barnett told the gathering the Government would use the Publics Work Act to acquire the land.
"So we will acquire it as Government owned land and then we will lease it out to proponents," he said.
"Whether that be Woodside, Inpex or anyone else in the future.
"That may sound a bit radical.
"I assure you it's not.
"That is the way most industrial land in Western Australia has been acquired and operated."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Woodside compensation offer inadequate: Kimberley elders

December 04, 2008
Article from: The Australian

KIMBERLEY traditional owners are furious at mining giant Woodside over a compensation offer for a proposed gas hub development in Western Australia's far north.
The Kimberley Land Council, which represents native title claimants at the four potential sites for the hub, said the proposal was “offensive”.

The proposal is understood to have required traditional Aboriginal owners to agree there were no heritage indigenous issues that would preclude the development going ahead at any of the four 1000 hectare sites.

It is also understood there was no offer of put-through, or royalties, in relation to the project.

Kimberley Land Council chief executive, who has written to Woodside chief Don Voelte rejecting the proposal, said it fell well below standard agreements between mining companies and Aboriginal people and would have given the company carte blanche, setting Aboriginal rights back 30 years.

“It is an insult,” he said.

“They want us to sign away our heritage rights before we even know where the project is, and what impact the project will have on Aboriginal communities.

Mr Bergman said the offer had been made in the context of Premier Colin Barnett’s threats of compulsory land acquisition.

“Woodside is attempting to negotiate with us with a gun to our head, with the state,” he said.

But Woodside said its benefits package would deliver significant social and economic benefits to Aboriginal people, including annual payments for education, training and compensation for native title owners, worth up to $500 million over the life of the project.

“Woodside is basing its proposal on a shortlist of potential sites drawn up by the Kimberley Land Council, so is working on the presumption these sites do not have significant heritage issues,” Woodside said in a statement.

“In any event it is proposed that if a Kimberley site is selected a comprehensive heritage survey will be conducted.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Human noise drowns out song of whales

The songs that whales and dolphins use to communicate, orient themselves and find mates are being drowned out by human-made noises in the world’s oceans, UN officials and environmental groups have revealed.

That sound pollution — everything from increasing commercial shipping and seismic surveys to a new generation of military sonar — is not only confounding the mammals, it also is further threatening the survival of these endangered animals.

Studies show that these cetaceans, which once communicated over thousands of miles (kilometers) to forage and mate, are losing touch with each other, the experts said on the sidelines of a UN wildlife conference in Rome.

“Call it a cocktail-party effect,” said Mark Simmonds, director of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, a Britain-based NGO. “You have to speak louder and louder until no one can hear each other anymore.”

An indirect source of noise pollution may also be coming from climate change, which is altering the chemistry of the oceans and making sound travel farther through sea water, the experts said.

Representatives of more than 100 governments are gathered in Rome for a meeting of the UN-backed Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

The agenda of the conference, which ends Friday, includes ways to increase protection for endangered species, including measures to mitigate underwater noise.

Environmental groups also are increasingly finding cases of beached whales and dolphins that can be linked to sound pollution, Simmonds said.

Marine mammals are turning up on the world’s beaches with tissue damage similar to that found in divers suffering from decompression sickness. The condition, known as the bends, causes gas bubbles to form in the bloodstream upon surfacing too quickly.

Scientists say the use of military sonar or seismic testing may have scared the animals into diving and surfacing beyond their physical limits, Simmonds said.

Several species of cetaceans are already listed as endangered or critically endangered from other causes, including hunting, chemical pollution, collisions with boats and entanglements with fishing equipment. Though it is not yet known precisely how many animals are affected, sound pollution is increasingly being recognized as a serious factor, the experts said.

As an example, Simmonds offered two incidents this year which, though still under study, could be linked to noise pollution: the beaching of more than 100 melon-headed whales in Madagascar and that of two dozen common dolphins on the southern British coast.

The sound of a seismic test, used to locate hydrocarbons beneath the seabed, can spread 3000km under water, said Veronica Frank, an official with the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

A study by her group found that the blue whale, which used to communicate across entire oceans, has lost 90 per cent of its range over the last 40 years.

Despite being the largest mammal ever to inhabit Earth, the endangered blue whale still holds mysteries for scientists.

“We don’t even know where their breeding grounds are,” Simmonds said. “But what’s most important is that they need to know where they are.”

Other research suggests that rising levels of carbon dioxide are increasing the acidity of the Earth’s oceans, making sound travel farther through sea water.

The study by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in the United States shows the changes may mean some sound frequencies are traveling 10 percent farther than a few centuries ago. That could increase to 70 percent by 2050 if greenhouse gases are not cut.

“This is a new, strange and unwanted development,” Simmonds said. “It shows how the degradation of the environment is all linked.”

However, governments seem ready to take action, said Nick Nutall, a spokesman for the UN Environment Program, which administers the convention being discussed in Rome. The conference is discussing a resolution that would oblige countries to reduce sound pollution, he said.

Measures suggested include rerouting shipping and installing quieter engines as well as cutting speed and banning tests and sonar use in areas known to be inhabited by the endangered animals.

AP4th December 2008, 8:30 WST

What Colin Wants for Christmas

WA Business News - Northbridge,
Western Australia,3rd November 2008

Colin Barnett is hoping Woodside Petroleum will fill his Christmas stocking with a pledge to anchor the proposed Kimberley LNG hub, one of the most controversial projects facing his government.
The West

This is the only bit of information Redhand could find in regards to this article and this comment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Glimpse into the Deep

Two Moons Whale and Marine Research Base have kindly given permission for us to show this wonderful footage of Humpback Whales taken right in the Middle Lagoon/North Head region.As you can see the footage shows how close these ancient allies swim along the coastline.

Eyesoncountry would also like to clarify that the Newsflash from Friday was eyesoncountry's observations only and is not scientifcally based.
Do some humpbacks stay in the northern waters whilst their counterparts migrate???? It only goes to show that further studies are vital in understanding these very special marine friends and imperative to their protection and that the fast-tracking of any Gas Hub on the Kimberley Coast would be in direct oppostion to Australia's stance on protecting and nurturing the recovering Humpback Whale population.