Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pictures all taken approx 2km south of James Price Point, this morning

Attached are some pics from this morning.the 30th Dec 2009

Pictures taken from approx 2km south of Walmandam (James Price Point) and estimated rig to be max of 1km SW of me. Putting it in area the proposed jetty location.

Regards,R Hartvigsen

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Calculated feints, highlighted with theatrical performances

Traditional Owners and Law Custodians are threatening legal action to stop the proposed development of the biggest LNG precinct in the world, just north of Broome. Joe Roe, Goolarabooloo and Neil McKenzie from Jabirr Jabirr with representatives from Save the Kimberley traveled to Perth last week to meet with the Browse Basin joint venture partners.

The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) has been representing traditional owners in talks with Woodside and the WA Government over the proposed James Price Point LNG precinct. Over 200 TOs have signed a declaration claiming the KLC has no right to negotiate on their behalf.

Dissident traditional owner Neil McKenzie says he will do whatever it takes to stop the development. "There are a lot of issues that are of concern to us and we will challenge them in whatever way, if it's legally or whatever other challenge we can find we will use," he said.

Disgruntled at KLC, WA’s Department of State Development and Barnett’s modus operandi, the owners who are opposed met with Browse Basin joint venture partners to inform them that the propaganda continually alleged that this proposal is supported by the traditional people is totally misleading. (This issue is really about Land Rights vs Human Rights and I will elaborate of this topic in the New Year)

There have been several calculated feints, highlighted with theatrical performances like the reprehensible illegal signing of the Heads of Agreement at James Price Point. Genealogy for this Country is still sitting on the table.
How can anyone sign away anything, least of all negotiate a Indigenous Land Use Agreement, whilst the majority is still piecing together their blood connections to Country, dealing with all the regurgitated sorry business that is coming with it and trying to manage the knowledge of it all.

Apparently, all the joint venture partners were generally very surprised to hear that the majority of Indigenous people from this Country do not want this development. It was explained that many people have very strong heritage ties and cultural responsibilities for the maintenance, care and protection of Country.
In the coming New Year we will restate and action our commitment to saving James Price Point for the people and for the planet. We will continue to express our concerns about the highly questionable approval processes being employed and the current negotiations and social and environmental damages assessments that are currently being white washed for publication.

The state government is the proponent to this project; the state government decides which boxes to tick, the state government employs and pays the researchers and consultants to tick the boxes and the state government will approve all the ticks and will forward on, to get that one last big tick from the Minister Garrett.

Then we will all be ticked off

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cyclone Laurence is looking after Country

People of the Dampier Peninsula communities, in the north of Western Australia have grave concerns for their environment and their livelihoods and seek to keep the Kimberley and its coastline industry free. The Kimberley is one of the last great wildernesses in the world and many people within the region appreciate that they have moral and ethical obligations to ensure that this very small corner of the planet remains that way.

One accident, one tanker blown aground, one pipe that shoots a leak, a platform or two break their moorings, or LNG processing trains being picked up by category 5 cyclonic winds and tossed around like chop sticks could all be the reality of our changing climate. We do not what to tempt fate by opening the door to the proposal to build the biggest LNG precinct in the world on our community's doorstep, in our recreational backyard.

This Country, its landscapes and its coastal face has been shaped and sculptured into its present form by these natural events and this is a great part of its beauty. Man made industrialised zones are not as flexible or adaptable and have a tendency to blow away in the face of natural menaces.

This illustrative map shows how plausible these concern are.

There is a strong relationship between the depth of the snow that falls in the Himalayas and the amount of rainfall received in north Western Australia.

In late October the throughflow from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, to the north west of Australia, slows, stops and may even reverse at times as the Indian Ocean Counter Current flows west to east into the Timor gap and "blocks" the throughflow.
This leads to a large raft of relatively still water to the immediate north west of Australia. This body of water begins to heat under the tropical sun.

As the sea surface temperature rises, evaporation increases and moist air from this region, thought to be the source of humidity and moisture, will eventually fall during the Australian monsoon (you only get monsoon systems where these static masses of water called warmpools form, not where the currents make the seas cool or cold).

During the wet season there are usually two or three major monsoon events. These events occur when the monsoon trough (a low pressure trough associated with intense rainfall) moves south over the landmass of north Western Australia.

The current level of oil and gas exploitative activities, the enormous increase in tanker and shipping movements and the thousands of kilometers of pipes that have been layered across the ocean’s floor during this insatiable seize of resources along the Western Australian coastline makes Cyclones a major concern for everyone.

Tropical Cyclone Laurence, Issued at 2:57 pm WST Saturday 19 December 2009. Refer to Tropical Cyclone Advice Number 65

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I can feel a Cyclone Building

As the storm clouds gather with the approaching Cyclone Lawrence, the Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr people are also gathering in the Cable Beach Club for the creation of their own squall.

Kimberley Land Council is facilitating this meeting and has spared no expense, flying and catering for people from all over Australia in order to get the numbers up. Like all politics, it’s a numbers game. Unfortunately, indigenous politics in the Wild West is also heavily influenced by contaminated economic favoritism, is controlled by the hands on the resources and is supported by unadulterated and unquestioned nepotism.

Unfortunately, the ramifications of the stolen generations are still being echoed into the present. When children were stolen and raised away from Country, many of them never had any insight into their own culture, they were effectively cut off from their cultural roots and trained to carry the cross instead, adopted into an education system that devalued their very own and in most cases directly opposed the simply concepts of caring country, respect for law, understanding and maintenance of cultural heritage. The continued tribulations and the inherent confusion of this separation will be all too evident at today’s and tomorrow’s meetings.

It’s a simple story, the Goolarabooloo hold the Cultural Law for this Country and Jabirr Jabirr can talk for Country. Neither can survive, without each other. It's like having the words to the song but no music and definitely no collaborative choruses. No sincere concise determination will result in this matter because the value systems and the moral codes are totally diabolically opposed.

No matter how the agenda is driven by KLC or how the pressures of the State aspirations come into play, the injury, the dilemma, the distress and the hostility of intrusion is shredding the very last fragile threads of our common origin.

These are the proven deceitful strategies that are used all over the world, by governments, by the multinationals, keep the locals distracted with fighting with each other, while they get on with the business, of taking everything for nothing and leaving the mess.

One of the agenda intentions is the removal of Goolarabooloo from the original Native Title Application in order to submit another Application just under the Jabirr Jabirr name. If this is achieved, and (word is out that it has) KLC will no longer have to wait for Goolarabooloo signatures to sign off on the Indigenous Land Use Agreement, for the proposed development of the biggest LNG precinct in the world, at James Price Point.

Apparently, Goolarabooloo were asked to leave the meeting and Jabirr Jabirr then found the silent numbers to exclude Goolarabooloo off this new Claim altogether.
Tragic!, when you consider the facts that it has been the Goolarabooloo people who retain the law, who have continued connections to Country, who hold the stories and kept the secret Law business strong whilst the Jabirr Jabirr people dragged themselves out of the depths of perplexed bewilderment of disconnection.

People of Burrgurrgurra, it is not your right to sell Country; you are the custodians for the following generations. Big business with its big money talk is cheap and we will all pay in the end a price that can never be measured in dollars and cents. History will remember you, because it will be your children’s inherited consequence. Take the money and run! But where will you go. Country?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chevron Kimberley hub a priority

Chevron says the Woodside Petroleum Ltd-led Browse joint venture is one of its top priorities but has not yet backed a proposal to process gas from the project at a hub in Western Australia's Kimberley region.

Woodside has chosen James Price Point near Broome for such a hub, but joint venture participants BHP Billiton Ltd, BP, Chevron and Shell have not yet ratified the decision.

And it is not the choice of 78% of long term Broome local residents, many traditional Owners and the majority of the Cultural Law bosses to have this polluting industry imposed on to us, onto our landscapes, into our environment and our community. The facts are that as a community we have never been asked if we want the biggest proposed 14 processing trains LNG precinct in the entire world nor do we as a community want to spend our working lives in service to it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Support Broome Arts Say No to LNG

Australia's first Aboriginal musical film Bran Nue Dae had its glamorous Australian premiere in the town of Broome with several performances by the star studded cast. The original musical play by Jimmy Chi was inspired nearly twenty years ago and was the first to draw a national and international spotlight on Broome.

Film & documentary makers, writers, poets, artists and dancers have always found Broome to be a very rich source of inspiration because of it beauty, its colour, its history, its environment, its multicultural mix, it home grown music and its ambiance. Numerous British children’s programes have been filmed and produced in Broome. The Circuit is running it second series on SBS at the moment and it was largely filmed in and around Broome with all the extras being local Broome people. Mad Bastards, a film based on the Pigram Brothers is currently in the editing room and of course Bran Nue Dae, very much Broome's love child.

However, the Tourism Social Impact Assessment Report associated to the proposed Kimberly LNG Precinct which will be the largest in the world, operating 14 processing trains (36)kms north of Broome) made no mention or recognition of Broome’s Music, Arts and Film industries. No appreciation or understanding of how these industries contributed to the development of and totally underpinned Broome's tourist brand. It was these industries that first drew attention to Broome, it was these industries that projected Broome out onto the national and international stage. And it is these industries that continue to do so to this very day.

Why was Broome’s vital Entertainment Industry, a very valued contributor to the Broome tourism coddled into the Report under the section titled food providers/entertainment? This Report that has been released has illustrated that the consultants have no understanding of the social fabric underlays of the Broome community. The report does not acknowledge or have any insight into the people or the community that committed themselves and built a viable tourism & Arts industries, over many years, out of hard work and little to no support from the State Government. Now, just when the Broome Brand is branded they wish to dismiss all this effect and expense to impose the LNG industry that will completely destroy all this hard dedicated work and write off people’s personal and our communities dreams as inconsequential.

Hands Off Country and Standing Up for the Planet

Monday, December 7, 2009

It Is Not Going To Happen

“the land is more important than the LNG gas plant, simply because of our culture, our history, our traditional ways, and our people in the generations to come” Lorna Kelly

The reality is that the proposed LNG precinct, like all other simpler precincts around the world will be a huge ogre that will overwhelm all the other existing industries. It will use all our precious ground water, pollute the cleanest of air and destroy the links to a sustainable food sources. It will leave the land pillaged, it will be viewed as an utter environmental catastrophe, and furthermore the local population, in the most part will still be unemployed and abandoned to make do with the clemencies of climate change and social disparity.

Thousands of people all over Australia and the world are also very strongly committed to working to ensure that the industrialisation of the Kimberley coast and hinterlands never happens. Climate change will be viewed and acted upon seriously, human rights and the rights to inform consent will be upheld, peoples heritage and cultural connections will be maintained and people will exercise their democratic rights to protest, object, obstruct and question. The old ways of doing things is over; it is not going to happen.

Barnett and all those involved should be forced to rectify and resolve the prevailing social, economic and environment devastation that is currently being experienced in the Pilbara. This needs to be done, well before they try to import and impose these deplorable and appalling predicaments into the Kimberley. Lets see how Gorgon will be managed.

Get it right, fix it in the Pilbara first before you even assume that you can come into the Kimberley with the same deceitful rhetoric and think you are going to be believed or trusted.

Show us, one successful operation or project, anywhere, one precedent in Australia or Overseas, where local communities, their employment ranks, their health and education or their social standing has improved when multinationals have come into their country or region, promising the world and delivering just more social, economic and environment marginalisation.

There never has been a sincere review or genuine investigations into how Dampier Peninsular communities and Broome residents judge their living environment, what their core values and their life dreams are and how they perceive the proposed KLNG project will affect their life qualities. People have never been given the choice.

DSD officials and their chosen social assessors came into the Broome community with the message that the proposed Kimberley LNG was inevitable and they continually pushed this line. So, right from the start, people were asking what the point of all the assessments when public government officials’ idea for community consultation is a sales pitch to sell the aspirations of the state?

KLC are still conducting the Aboriginal Social Impact Assessments and the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) is still in its infancy, environmental surveys are still being conducted and we all wait with baited breath for Vol 2 & 3 of the Social Assessments Reports.

The media releases continually coming out of the Barnett’s office are predetermining the outcomes of the process and fuels people’s subsequent justified mistrust of the current Approval and Assessment Processes. Totalitarianism does not nurture public confidence, it totally undermines peoples; rights to objection, their opportunities of reply and their faith in the system.

Lives have already been greatly affected by this proposal and they will continue to suffer all the calamities of big money- big business invasion.

Kimberley Land Council tokenistic approach and the establishment of the Traditional Owners Negotiations Committee TONC have effectively locked out many Native Title Claimants.

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer,

it sings because it has a song.

It is not the Governments or the multinationals right to presume that they can come into Country and manage heritage sites and secret business. You break Country, you break the very last connection people have with themselves. Traditional Owners do not have the authority to sign off on Law, or cultural heritage issues; this is the jurisdiction of the Cultural Law Bosses. People of the Law would never sign away the Law, the Culture and the Country, so promptly, so proudly!

The Lurujarri Songline is just that, a song line. It is not heritage sites dotted around, its a cultural moving living corridor, a walking museum, a Songline, with its own rhythm, its own chorus, its own beat and its own instruments. Across Australia Songlines are connected.

You cut the song in half with a proposed 14 trains LNG processing site, the biggest in the world, twice the size of
Qatar, (which currently operates 7 trains) and think you can still sing? The rhythm is broken. People forget the words and the songs, the stories, their connection to country, its fruits, its seasons, its medicines.

The proponents want this precinct as far south as they can push the boundaries, so they can save Walmadan (JJP) tableland for future expansion. And we do not want it at all.

They need access to deeper water! But so do the whales, turtles and dolphins, bringing them close into the shore. Deep water troughs are also very important for marine life as they act like corridor assisting marine creatures to move freely, feeding along the fringing reef systems, whilst working with the tidal movements.

No habitat, nothing to monitor. And if by some chance monitoring tests show that the sediment deposition and turbidity was causing the corals and reef system to die and seagrasses are being suffocated and there were invasive species and terrestrial introduce pests, what would the government really do? CLOSE THE PRECINCIT? I think not.

What is the point of trying to make the site less visible from the ocean when the light emissions, the huge tankers, the jetties, the berths, and the breakwaters, the pipelines, the flares, the smell, the noise and vibrations, sediment deposition and turbidity, groundwater abstraction, atmospheric emissions and the dust emissions will be all encompassing and all consuming?

According to DSD Map, the LNG main operations will be place directly over the most substantial community of remnant rainforest (Vine Thickets) within the area. They wish to tuck their operations in behind the Holocene sand dunes in order to shelter from the prevailing winds, however once they start their proposed vegetation/habitat clearing and excavation of the Remnant Rainforest, the Holocene sand dunes with become highly unstable and will eventually blow away.

This proposed processing plants will need – 1000 hectares, Infrastructure and facilities 500 – 1000 hectares, land and Water for plants – 1000, Workers accommodation and light industrial areas 200 – 500 hectares giving us a total of 2700 – 3500 hectares which would be fenced (known as the Exclusion Zone) A similar area of about 3000 hectares around this fenced area would be set aside as a Statutory Buffer Zone.

The precinct features will included: 14 LNG Trains, Acid-gas removal unit, Fractionation unit, Jetty spur, up to five loading berths, methanol processing fertilizer plant, water desalination plants & distribution, sewage treatment plant, concrete factory, groundwater pumping stations and their own power generation facilities.

According to the Map, this supply route will only take you as far as to Walmadan (James Price Point), access to Pidirakunbunu, Kulmukarakun, Flat Rock, Kurakaramunjuno, or Minarringy will be completely blocked off.

The community is dubious about the whole SIA process and currently has no expectations that the impending subsequent volumes of reports will signify the truth.

Hands Off Country, Standing Up for the Planet

Friday, December 4, 2009

Media Release - 4 December 2009

Media Release - 4 December 2009

Environs Kimberley

Conservation Council WA

The Wilderness Society

Door open for Kimberley gas hub legal challenge

Decisions by WA Premier Colin Barnett and Commonwealth Resources Minister Martin Ferguson to force industrial LNG development on the pristine Kimberley coast ahead of an environmental assessment demonstrate reckless disregard for environmental laws, and open the door for legal challenge, according to environment groups opposed to the plan.

“Today’s decision by Premier Barnett on the site for an industrial gas hub, and yesterday’s announcement by Commonwealth Minister Ferguson that joint venture partners would be forced to choose a development location for Browse LNG within 120 days have combined to set a D-day for the Kimberley” said Piers Verstegen, Director of the WA Conservation Council.

Josh Coates, Kimberley Campaigner with the Wilderness Society WA said that “Recently released research conducted by local whale experts clearly shows that the site chosen by Premier Barnett is part of one of the most important humpback whale calving and feeding grounds in the world.”

“Environmental assessments for the area have not been completed but the Premier and Woodside are so determined to industrialise the Kimberley they are prepared to disregard the intent of State and Federal agreements and environmental law, raising the strong prospect of legal challenge.” Josh Coates from the Wilderness Society said.

“The Premier has a made a huge mistake in trying to get this gas hub and industrial port built in the Kimberley; he’s in such a hurry that he’s forgotten about the need to follow commonwealth and state environmental laws.” said Environs Kimberley Director Martin Pritchard.

“This decisions by Premier Barnett, and yesterday’s announcement by Minister Ferguson that joint venture partners would be forced to choose a development location for Browse LNG within 120 days demonstrates that both State and Commonwealth governments have no regard for the environmental impact assessment process that is required under State and Commonwealth law.”

Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said “The community has become used to the WA government overturing recommendations by the EPA, but here we have both state and Commonwealth Governments proceeding to force development before the required assessments have even been completed.”

“These reckless decisions can only open up legal challenges and the consequences of that are potentially years of court hearings, this is exactly the opposite of what potential investors and share holders want to hear.” Concluded Mr. Verstegen

Media Contact:

Martin Pritchard, Environs Kimberley: 0427 548 075

Piers Verstegen, Conservation Council of WA: 0411 557 892

Joshua Coates, The Wilderness Society WA: 0438 805 284

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Secret Out

The season of Larja, the season of built up for the wet, is now moving along and away from country. The winds strengthen from westerly to north – westerly during this time. Gubinge (Terminalia ferdinandiana) and the white gum gunurra (Eucalyptus) Corymbia flavescens are in flower. It was a great year for bush honey. Stingray, reef and shellfish were fat. Turtles are now mating. Country is eager and waiting for the arrival of Mankala, the wet. Strong north-westerly winds and cyclones (wirdu wangal) will blow throughout this season. Ngaliwany (Persoonia falcate), gabiny (Terminalia ferdinandiana) and magabala (Marsdenia viridiflora) are all heavy with fruit. Flying foxes are all out getting fat on the fruits of this season. Kangaroos are skinny, as are the shellfish. Bush honey will be hard to find. Turtles are now laying eggs.

And the enemies of Country, Woodside, Western Australian State Government and now the Broome Shire Council are all in cohoots, determine to destroy Country. They can try and hide behind their corrupt paperwork and their moot deceitful processes. They can imagine that they have the God given right the rip Country away from people and destroy biodiversity because of their blinding ambitions to satisfy their greed, their selfish orientated egos without any thought for future generations, our community, our Country and our planet. They are dreaming up a nightmare for their own children. It is not going to happen! Dream on!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Drilling Kimberley LNG Precinct James Price Point

Drilling has commenced along the Manari Road between the Quondong Point turnoff and James Price Point by Hagstrom Drilling.
During the site selection process for the Kimberley LNG Precinct there were 3 proposed locations at James Price Point with the southernmost section located near Quondong.
Given the Shire of Broome’s approval for the installation of a meteorological tower at location “Option A”, it appears that the Kimberley LNG Precinct will be located nearer to Quondong than to James Price Point this slashes through the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail, breaking the song cycle that travels along the coast line of the western side of the Dampier Peninsula.
Last week and weekend while a tower was installed significant drilling was also underway in a number of places between James Price Point and Quondong, drilling day and at night under massive floodlights. The road has been remade in places and there has been much heavy vehicle traffic, no doubt in a hurry before the ‘wet’ season starts. In fact this part of the road is like a river during the rain - see an earlier post on Hands off country “Unique, Untouched, Spectacular” – not any more. Surveys continue including the beaches at Quondong.

At the next Shire Council meeting on Thursday 26 November, Council will consider Pro oil and gas development Councillor Jenny Bloom’s Notice of Motion to ‘acknowledge’ the State’s selection of James Price Point, to ‘recognise’ Government Policy on the Kimberley LNG Precinct, to ‘resolve to co operate and participate’ with the Government and ‘reconfirm’ an earlier resolution supporting the Port of Broome. This opposes Council’s resolutions of last December and November. The Broome community would do well to ask what information has been provided to both the Shire and to the general community for the Shire to change its view?
One wonders how much Indigenous and local employment in the construction, transport, drilling, and surveys to date?
Hands off country

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Woodside starts building at James Price Point

Construction has started on the temporary meteorological tower – Lot 259 James Price Point, Dampier Peninsula.

SMS Redhand received this afternoon 19th November: “Activity on Manari Road. Survey team Walmadan in APT Kimberley Wilderness Adventure Tour bus, truck and loader just south. Concrete pad. tent 4 men. Survey till end of week.”

One of the workers had FUBAR on his shirt which, if you check Wikipedia, is pretty much a good description of the work done on the bush already.
Planning Approval was given at the Shire of Broome Council meeting held on 29th October, for two locations. Option A, the preferred location is where Redhand believes the work is taking place. “This site would require a new track of approximately 3m wide and 100m in length to be established from Manari Road to the tower site. Vegetation would be selectively cleared by ‘scrub roll’ or ‘blade up’ clearing to minimise the extent of clearing of the track. The track in would have a ‘bend’ so the proposed tower could not be viewed directly from Manari Road.”
Well, how ridiculous. That bush has been badly burnt this year and you can see for miles through the burnt undergrowth, which is now after last week’s rain starting to recover with spurts of new green. The Telstra tower at Quondong is just 14m high and is used as a reference point by fishermen, sailors and anyone can see it along the flat part of the country. This meteorological tower is more than twice the height at 30m and only 100m east of Manari Road.
APT Kimberley Wilderness Adventure Tours on its website “Travel the Kimberley with the experts at APT Kimberley Wilderness Adventures, and enjoy all the remote and remarkable places.” Is their bus just a good disguise? The website goes on to say “....The APT Conservation and Charitable Fund was established in 2003 by Geoff McGeary and his wife, Anne, thereby continuing the company's dedication to conservation and responsible tourism. The APT Group has continually focused on achieving best practice in economic, social and environmental responsibility. In conducting its operations, the company strives to minimise its impact on the environment, spread benefits throughout the local economies in Australia and internationally, as well as directly promote and support community well being.” Is this sort of land clearing responsible tourism?

Redhand will be seeking answers to these questions.
When was Heritage Clearance given for this work?
When was the Planning Approval from the Shire of Broome issued?
Is this Option A for the location of the Meteorological tower?
Does the approval include accommodation/dongas and other infrastructure?

And while we’re on the subject of towers how is it that in the same Council meeting a 14m whale watching tower at the Two Moons Whale and Marine Research base (Goonjarr Gooyool Aboriginal Community), also on the Dampier Peninsula was deferred for consultation with tourism peak bodies, adjacent communities and other relevant stakeholders? This temporary meteorological tower of 30m had ‘nil’ consultation. Now that’s inconsistent.

Standing up for the planet Hands off country

Friday, November 13, 2009

What really is the point of the Inquiry

The fire on Seadrill's West Atlas mobile offshore drilling unit and PTTEPA's Montara wellhead platform in the Timor Sea was extinguished on 3 November 2009, following several attempts by Seadrill's West Triton mobile drilling unit to intercept and kill a leaking well.

Seadrill is now working to assess and establish the damage to the West Atlas. Visual inspection confirms that the rig's steel cantilever structure, which is extended over the Montara well-head platform, has been buckled and deformed by the fire.

The next step would be to send a specialist team onboard the West Atlas to establish whether it is safe for additional personnel to board in order to continue well capping operations and to do a full assessment of the structural damage to the West Atlas.

Preliminary indications, based only on the visual inspection of the damage, indicate that it could take a number of months to remove the West Atlas rig from the vicinity of the Montara wellhead platform.

The West Triton currently remains on location, approximately two kilometres from the West Atlas, as it is still required by PTTEPA to monitor and complete well plugging operations.
More more images of the 250 million dollar scrap heap,23607,5062379-5013959,00.html

Minister Ferguson said, "The Montara Commission of Inquiry is established under amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 I introduced, and which received the support of all parties in the Parliament, in September.”

This Inquiry possesses the powers and authority of a Royal Commission. It will have power to summon witnesses, take evidence on oath and require individuals and corporations to give the Commission documents relevant to its terms of reference. The Inquiry will also receive public submissions. The Commissioner will determine further details of how the Inquiry will be conducted.

Consistent with the proven approach taken by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau the Commission of Inquiry will receive evidence on a “no blame basis”. Independent of the Commission of Inquiry, the relevant regulatory processes will determine whether any non-compliance with the law has occurred and whether any measures to seek penalties and other sanctions should be pursued.

In accordance with the Terms of Reference, Mr Borthwick will investigate and report on:

· The likely cause(s) of the incident;

· The adequacy and effectiveness of the regulatory regime, including approved safety, environment and resource management arrangements;

· The performance of relevant persons in carrying out their obligations under the regulatory regime;

· The adequacy of response requirements and the actual response to the incident;

· The environmental impacts as a result of the incident, including reviewing environmental monitoring plans; and

· The offshore petroleum industry’s response to the incident and the provision and accessibility of information concerning the incident to stakeholders and the Australian community.

Mr Borthwick, the Commissioner will present his report to me before the end of April 2010.

Concurrent with the Commission of Inquiry, the following investigations and reviews are being progressed by the Australian Government:

· NOPSA is investigating all aspects of the incident concerning occupational health and safety;

· The Northern Territory Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources is investigating all aspects of compliance with the regulatory regime applied under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006;

· The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts is undertaking an audit of compliance with the conditions of Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 approval relating to the drilling and other activities on the Montara wellhead platform; and

· Under the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and other Noxious and Hazardous Substances, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will undertake a separate review into the effectiveness of the response to the incident.

The NATPLAN Review will be chaired by Mr Jim Starkey, an independent consultant with significant executive experience in the petroleum industry, the Australian Public Service and as a former chairman of the National Plan Management Committee responsible for oversight of Australia's oil spill preparedness and response capabilities.

The review team will involve the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, relevant Commonwealth departments, the Western Australian Government and the Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre. Public submissions will be called for and considered.

Redhand believes the terms of Reference should investigate that when oil was spewing into the ocean and effects where being made to stop the flow how was it possible that PTTEP also had time to take over control of five new exploration licences and several oilfields in Australian waters.

Despite growing concerns about the impact of the twelve week oil leak, the $11 million purchase of new oil assets was supported by Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.

Purchased from fellow oil exploration company OMV, the licences gives PTTEP control of an extra 1480 square kilometres of Australian waters near the burnt out shell of the Montara rig, about 650 kilometres west of Darwin.

The government rejected an amendment from Greens Senator Rachel Siewert to enshrine broad terms of reference for future investigations of this type. She was concerned the probe might only look into the technical and regulatory issues and not review the clean-up operations or the environmental impacts of the spill. The minister says he had already been considering extensive powers for the inquiry in light of a report on the explosion last year at the gas plant on Varanus Island, about 100 kilometres off the coast from the Pilbara town of Karratha.

Thai rig operators PTTEP are said to be paying the Commonwealth for the costs of monitoring the spill. Industry estimates put the final cost of the spill as high as $100 million but the environmental cost, which cannot be expressed solely in dollars and cents, is immense. This is exactly the sort of nightmare scenario state and federal governments must have dreaded as they increase the pace of resource extraction in an attempt to prop up a fragile economy. With Australian manufacturing moving offshore or simply closing their doors and other sectors of the economy slowing in the wake of the global financial crisis, governments are banking on income from big resource customers like India and China.

Environmental concerns over the proposed Gargon gas project off WA’s northwest coast were dismissed by the federal government in August. The scheme incorporates a gas plant on Barrow Island, which lies in the heart of an area dubbed “Australia’s Galapagos”. Part of the “sell” for the project was the introduction of pioneering and unproven carbon dioxide burying technique. Critics claim the unstable sea floor will cause the greenhouse gas to escape and threaten wildlife.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The fire is out but the scaring is worst

The company responsible for an oil well that spewed its contents into the Timor Sea for more than two months says it knows what caused the environmental disaster.

But PTTEP Australasia chief financial officer Jose Martins has refused to reveal what the reasons for the Montara oil well spill and West Atlas rig fire are.

The well began spilling oil on August 21, while the fire broke out on the rig on Sunday. The clean-up effort was hampered by the time it took to get a second rig in place to drill a relief well, while it also took several attempts to finally stop the leak yesterday.

"Yes we do (know the causes), there's a range of causes but we're not going to go into it," Mr Martins told ABC Radio.

"There's going to be a proper legal process that would be undertaken to find out what caused the leak.

He also revealed he expected an insurance claim to recover costs of the incident to be "much higher" than the $170 million it had cost the company so far, to take into account costs of the rig fire.

The clean-up has cost the company about $5 million so far, but this could also rise, Mr Martins said.

PTTEP would not request any federal government help.

The clean-up was expected to take another two months, but it could take up to seven years to work through the environmental effects of the disaster, Mr Martins said.

PTTEP was prepared to be paying for the incident for several years.

Engineers would attempt to plug the well soon, and when that happened a relief well drilled to plug the leak could then be abandoned.

Despite the effects of the incident, Mr Martins refused to apologise.

The company was "confident" it was not to blame.

"The accident shouldn't have happened in the first place," Mr Martins said.

"We regret what's happened and I think the rest will have to come out in the inquiry.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

West Atlas is Burning

A fire has broken out at an oil well that has been leaking in the Timor Sea for 10 weeks.

PTTEP Australasia says the West Atlas rig and Montara well head platform are on fire. All personnel on the nearby West Triton rig and on work vessels in the area are reported to be safe. Oil has been spilling into the Timor Sea at an estimated rate of 2000 - 6000 barrels a day since August 21.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has 300 people working on the clean-up. Redhand would like to know where are the 300 hundred people who were apparently cleaning up this spill? Where were they when the rig caught fire? Where have these 300 hundred people come from? Have they been flown in from Darwin or Broome? Are they being accommodated in Darwin or Broome?

How was this fire stated? How do they intend to deal with this massive disaster now?

Now that this rig is on fire, Redhand believes that it is about time that both the Pearling Industry, Local fishing Industry, the Kimberley Tourism Industry, the Broome Chamber of Commerce, the local Shires and regional peak bodies start to take a serious look at this global disaster. They must at least, begin to come to terms with the facts that this spill and the subsequent fire is going to have ominous and dire consequential ramifications for all these Industries and local and regional governance. The oil will eventually run the entire Dampier coastal foreshore and will make its way to Cable Beach.

In the light of this global significant disaster, that can be viewed from space, what Risk Management Strategies does the Shire of both Broome and Derby and the state government have in place to deal with this particular oil spill or any other major industrial or tanker accidents that could take place anywhere along the western Australian coastline?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009




Joseph Roe, Senior Law Boss, Registered Applicant of Goolaraboo / Jabirr Jabirr Country, (which includes James Price Point) spoke with ABC Kimberley Regional Radio this morning about his objections and intention to take legal action should Woodside Energy Ltd application to develop a temporary Meteorological Tower at James Price Point is granted. From this proposed facility field data will be collected on the atmospheric conditions in the area to help with the detailed planning of the LNG Precinct.

The item will be brought to the Ordinary Meeting of Broome Shire Council 29 October 2009 for consideration as the land falls within the Shire of Broome’s Interim Development Order No. 4 (IDO4). It has been recommended that Council support the development.

This reminds me of a story Red Hand blogged around the same time last year. A tower had been build in country near North Head which was originally Barnett’s preferred site for the proposed biggest LNG Precinct in the world that will accommodate up to a suggested 14 LNG trains. However. permission was never obtained for it.

The proposal is to construct 30m high Temporary Meteorological Tower (the Tower), with associated weather station monitoring equipment for a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 36 months. The Tower will be located within either one of two sites each approximately 2,000m2 (0.2 hectares) to 2,500m2 (0.25 hectares) in area.

The features of the tower include:

One, 30metre high galvanized steel (grey colour) tower with three mast guy

wires extending out to approximately 18m from the tower base at a 120

degree angle.

The tower is required to monitor weather and environmental conditions and collect field data on atmospheric conditions, such as wind speed, air quality and temperature. The information recorded by monitoring equipment (sensors and loggers) will be used to assist in the future planning and development of the site, for the anticipated future gas storage and gas processes that are to occur in this location. The monitoring will be used to guide LNG train design, assess safety aspects of LNG plant site layout, and complete air quality assessment to guide engineering design to maximize dispersion of potential air pollutants.

To minimize the requirement for on site field visits, field data will be transmitted from site via a satellite to an offsite location for processing. Service visits will be required at two (2) to three (3) monthly intervals or earlier if data problems are incurred. Access to the site during the operation phase will be by light passenger vehicle e.g. 4WD and any parking will be onsite.

Two sites, of between 2,000sm to 2,500sm have been identified. Each is a triangular shape of approximately 45m x 45m x 45m. Only one site is required for the construction of the tower. The final site selection will be made after a heritage clearance has been undertaken by the Kimberley Land Council, Traditional Owners, Environmental Specialist and Contactors.

Option A — The preferred site is located approximately:

- 4.5km south of James Price Point

- 1km east of the coast cliff line

- 100m east of the unsealed Manari Road.

This site would require a new track of approximately 3m wide and 100m in length to be established from Manari Road to the tower site. Vegetation would be selectively cleared by ‘scrub roll’ or ‘blade up’ clearing to minimize the extent of clearing of the track. The track in would have a ‘bend’ so the proposed tower could not be viewed directly from Manari Road.

Option B - is located approximately:

- 4km south - east of James Price Point

- 3km east of the coast cliff line

- 2.5km east of the Manari Road.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Timor Sea waters have been contaminated

Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) (ANTARA News) - East Nusa Tenggara`s Environmental Affairs Agency (BLHD) has confirmed that Timor Sea waters have been contaminated with oil leaked from an explosion at the Montara oil field.

"Based on samples obtained in a survey conducted by BLHD in four different locations (in Timor Sea) last October 23, the sea waters is above the national water quality standard in line with the Environmental Affairs Minister`s Decree no. 51/2004," NTT BLHD Head Alexander Oematan said here on Tuesday.

The results of physical analysis conducted at the NTT BLHD laboratory showed that a water sample taken at the coordinate of 11.31.213 degrees southern latitude and 122.59.530 degrees eastern longitude, around five miles of Landu Isle, smelled oily, with turbidity at 165.5 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units), and had an oil layer.

At the second point at the coordinate of 11.09.372 degrees southern latitude, and 122.56.960 degrees eastern longitude, around 10 miles of Ndana Isle as well as in Rote Ndao District, the water sample also smelled oily, with 569 NTU.

The chemical analysis also showed that the fat oil content was above the national water quality standard, Oematan said.The findings confirmed that the Timor Sea was polluted and efforts should be taken to prevent the destruction of marine species in the area, he said.

Oil, gas and condensate have been polluting the Timor Sea since the blow out happened at a rig of PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, the operator of the Montara offshore oil field on August 21, 2009. The rig is located around 690 km west of Darwin, North Australia, and 250 km northwest of Truscott in West Australia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Garrett brushes off oil spill criticism

The Federal Government has rejected Opposition criticism of its response to a large oil spill off Western Australia's north-west coast.

Oil has been leaking from an oil rig in the Timor Sea for more than two months and attempts to plug it have so far failed.

The Opposition says it is concerned about the environmental damage and says the Government is not doing enough to prevent an environmental disaster.

A spokesman for the Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, says the Government has had monitoring teams on site from the beginning and has put in place long-term monitoring plans.

The company responsible for the oil rig says it will make another attempt at plugging the leak tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Five new exploration licences and access to several oilfields in Australian waters is rewarded to PTTEP

The ongoing Montara / West Atlas oil spill in the Timor Sea off Western Australia is now in its 62nd day. So far, three attempts to intercept and plug the leaking well have failed. Another attempt should happen within a day. A MODIS / Terra satellite image taken on October 21 - exactly two months after the blowout and spill began - shows slicks and sheen covering 2,600 square miles and approaching within 35 miles of the Kimberley coast.

Dark patches at center are discontinuous slicks and sheen, coming within 35 miles (30 nautical miles) of the Australian coast. Other dark patches to the south and southwest may be a combination of slicks and sheen obscured by calm, low-wind conditions. Bright patch to right of slicks is intense area of sunglint reflection. Clouds are scattered throughout this image, especially over Western Australia's rugged Kimberley Coast. Ashmore and Cartier Islands are aqua blue spots in the upper left.

THE company responsible for one of the biggest oil spills in Australian history was yesterday given access to more Australian oilfields, after winning support from the Rudd Government.

As its workers began their fourth attempt at fixing the Montara oil leak off the Kimberley coast, Thai company PTTEP yesterday took control of five new exploration licences and several oilfields in Australian waters.

Despite growing concerns about the impact of the two-month oil leak, the $11 million purchase of new oil assets was supported by Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board.

Purchased from fellow oil exploration company OMV, the licences give PTTEP control of an extra 1480 square kilometres of Australian waters near the leaking Montara rig, about 650 kilometres west of Darwin.

With the Montara leak yet to be resolved, the deal prompted concern from scientists and environmentalists such as University of West Australia associate professor of marine ecology Euan Harvey.

''They need to demonstrate they cannot impact on others' livelihoods or on the ecosystem, and at the moment they've demonstrated very clearly that they can't do that,'' he said.

Professor Harvey, who has spent recent years researching marine biology in the waters close to the spill, said the oil slick posed a big risk to the larvae of large finfish, which spawn in October.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokesman Darren Kindleysides said PTTEP's track record should be taken into account before access was granted to new oilfields.

''Clearly PTTEP's track record has been pretty shabby in recent months,'' he said. ''Major questions still hang unanswered over why this spill happened and why it hasn't been plugged yet.''

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Chris Smyth called the timing extraordinary.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Third attempt fails to plug oil and gas leak

A Thai-based oil company on Saturday failed in its third attempt to plug a leaking rig that has spilled thousands of barrels of crude into seas off Australia, alarming environmentalists.

PTTEP Australasia said it had missed its target for a relief well some 2.6 kilometres (1.6 miles) below the seabed for the third time this month, and would try again in the coming days.

The leaking wellhead, some 25 centimetres (10 inches) wide, has been gushing off Australia's northwest since August 21 with estimates putting the discharge at 400 barrels a day.

"Setting up for each pass sequence takes between three and four days," PTTEP said in a statement.

"Implementing the pass sequence must then be undertaken during daylight hours for safety reasons.

"Once the leaking well is successfully intercepted, heavy mud will be pumped from the West Triton down into the relief well, displacing the oil, gas and water and stopping the flow."

The spill is reportedly Australia's worst since offshore drilling began more than 40 years ago, and ecologists fear the toxic cocktail of oil and dispersant chemicals could threaten marine and coastal species.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett, ex-frontman of rock band Midnight Oil, this week said PTTEP had agreed to pay for environmental monitoring of the area for at least two years.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The worst oil spill in Australia's history

It is eight weeks to the day since oil started leaking uncontrollably from the West Atlas drill rig in the Timor Sea, almost 3000 tonnes of oil are estimated to have polluted the ocean. This is one of the worst oil spills in Australia's history. The company responsible, PTTEP, has failed to cap the leak and failed to meet their promises of stopping the spill within 6-8 weeks, says the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

"Eight weeks, almost 3000 tonnes of oil and one failed promise later and still this toxic spill continues. While industry is hurrying to play down the impact of this disaster on the environment, public patience with the polluters is wearing very thin," said Darren Kindleysides, AMCS Director.

"The West Atlas spill has become a dirty stain on Australia's environmental reputation," he continued. "Over the last eight weeks we have learned three things: there is no such thing as risk free oil and gas production at sea; when things go wrong they go badly wrong; and our oceans are woefully under-protected from the oil and gas industry."

"We welcome the agreement between the company and Government to monitor the impacts of this spill for two years, but it cannot be described as a long-term program. The effects of major oil spills elsewhere in the world have been felt by wildlife, fisheries and the marine environment over a decade after the incidents. To begin to get a handle on the legacy of damage left by the West Atlas disaster, we will need monitoring to be funded for at least five years," concluded Kindleysides.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society is calling on the Australian Government to:

1. Protect the most important areas for marine wildlife by establishing large marine sanctuaries, setting these areas aside from oil and gas exploration.

2. Place a moratorium on opening up any more areas for oil and gas exploration until the current marine bioregional planning process is complete.

3. Ensure, under the polluter pays principle, that PTTEP foot the bill for at least five years, and preferably ten, monitoring the impacts of this spill on our ocean wildlife.

Oil continues to poison the Timor Sea

Today marks eight weeks since the West Atlas rig in the Timor Sea - between Australia and East Timor - started leaking oil at the rate of some 400 barrels a day. PTTEP Australasia hopes to intercept the leaking well tomorrow - the company's third attempt.

The Federal Government has announced an environmental monitoring program which the company will pay for. But the Greens say the government should ensure the program runs for longer than two years. The Greens believe the environmental impact of the spill has been much bigger than the government, and the company involved, are letting on.

And in news just to hand, Indonesian fisherman say the Timor oil spill has killed thousands of fish.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Strike Two FAILED

A second attempt to stop the flow of oil leaking from a rig off Australia's north coast has failed.

The West Atlas oil rig in the Timor Sea has been leaking oil into the ocean for more than seven weeks.

PTTEP Australasia failed in its first attempt to stop the leak last week.

The company says it expects to be able to make another attempt to plug the hole this weekend.

"We will now re-run the vector magnetics tools tonight to see how close we are to the target," PTTEP Australasia director Jose Martins said.

"Our drilling experts are hopeful that we will not need such a long side track to hit it on the next pass."

He says today's unsuccessful attempt is disappointing, but the chances of hitting the target are now higher.

"The closer we get to the target with each pass, the more certain we become of its location."

A Greens Senator is calling for Australia's response plan to oil and gas spills to be drastically improved.

Senator Scott Ludlam says the response to the spill should have been quicker.

Second pass to intercept the leaking well

PTTEP will make a second pass to intercept the leaking well in the Montara field today, after initial attempts were blocked by hard rocks under the seabed.

The damaged well, which blew out on 21 August, has been leaking hydrocarbons into the Timor Sea for seven weeks.

Work continued today on the salvage operations after a fresh delay last Friday.

The sidetrack well being drilled by Seadrill’s jack-up West Triton to intercept the leak encountered a “very hard, deep rock formation” last week, slowing the work progress, PTTEP said.

The drilling team onboard West Triton will use a rotary steerable assembly to drill up to 2738 metres within several metres of the calculated target, before attempting the second pass.

The aim is to intersect a piece of steel casing 25 centimetres in diameter, 2.6 kilometres below the seabed.

Environmental groups claim the isolated area affected by the Montara leak is home to a number of endangered species.

Indonesia has dispatched a team of officials last week to monitor Australia's response to the oil spill, saying it feared the contamination could harm the country’s marine life.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shell to build floating LNG plant

Shell is to build the world's first floating LNG processing plant off the West Australian coast.

The company plans to process gas from its Prelude and Concerto fields in the Browse Basin off the Kimberley coast using floating LNG technology.

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says the technology will allow remote gas fields, which may otherwise have been not viable, to be unlocked.

"Obviously historically we have had LNG hubs on the mainland. On this occasion it's a choice between having gas reserves stranded or looking at a new technology," he said.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr SAY NO TO GAS

Statement by Joseph Roe, Senior Law Boss, Registered Applicant of Goolaraboo / Jabirr Jabirr Country, (which includes James Price Point).

Senator Louise Pratt has invited other Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and their staff to attend a “Kimberley briefing” next Wednesday. She is hosting the briefing on behalf of the Kimberley Land Council (KLC). The KLC’s notice promises a presentation by KLC’s Executive Officer, Mr Wayne
Bergmann, and “senior men and women Kimberley Traditional Owners”.

Senator Pratt is acting in good faith. However, the KLC has no authority to negotiate with anybody about the development of James Price Point. Nor has anybody else at this stage.

James Price Point is situated north of Broome, in the Dampier Peninsula. It is included in the Native Title Claim lodged in 1994 by myself and Cyril Shaw “on behalf of the Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr Peoples” (G-JJ). Other Dampier Peninsula claims have since been made but no other group has disputed G-JJ’s
entitlement to James Price Point. It is universally recognised as Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr land.

My grandfather, Paddy Roe, was Senior Cultural Law Boss of Goolarabooloo / Jabirr Jabirr country and the Broome area for approximately five decades. Shortly before his death in 1992, he and the other G/JJ Elders formally appointed me as his successor.

In 1987, Paddy Roe initiated the Lurujarri Heritage Trail. Its route, a nine-day walk along the Dampier Peninsula coast, follows that of the Northern Tradition Song Cycle that has been handed down to us through many generations. Paddy Roe wished young G-JJ people to learn about their Country and Culture. He also wished to build cultural bridges with other people. He wanted the trail to be frequently walked in the company of Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Elders. I have carried on that tradition. Participation is greater than ever. Thousands of people, including Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr, other indigenous peoples, non-indigenous Australians and many foreign visitors have walked the trail, learning along the way.

James Price Point (Walmadan) is midway in the Lurujarri Heritage Trail. Its development as a Gas Precinct would destroy the trail. It would also adversely affect the other traditional activities carried out in that area. It would be a betrayal of my heritage, and responsibility as Senior Law Boss, for me ever to agree to its industrialisation. Most of my people agree with me. They share my view that no amount of money could compensate for loss of their heritage. They ask why they should be expected to sacrifice so much for benefits,like health and education services, that other Australians receive as birth right.

Mr Bergmann claims the “Traditional Owners’ consented to the development of James Price Point at a meeting held on 14-15 April. That is not true. That was not just a meeting of the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr people; it was also open to Djabera Djabera people, whose claim does not overlap ours, and any other person
who claimed to be of G/JJ descent. I have repeatedly asked Mr Bergmann for a list of those who attended and, of those, who was eligible to vote. He has never provided either to me. I doubt that that any list was made.

Few Goolarabooloo people attended the meeting. None of the Goolarabooloo people knew that the KLC planned to take a vote about entering an agreement with Woodside Energy and the WA government. The notice calling the meeting stated only one item of business: “Update on Negotiations about the Premier’s nomination for a Gas Precinct around James Price Point.” Most of Goolarabooloo, who all oppose the whole
idea of the Gas Precinct, elected not to attend. They were not interested in these inappropriate negotiations.

Some months before this meeting, the Law Bosses of the Dampier Peninsula, along with Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr leaders, agreed that any decision about James Price Point should be made by consensus. Mr Bergmann knew this. Nonetheless, at the very end of the 14-15 April meeting, which had been dominated by discussion about the possible financial benefits of the Gas Precinct, Mr Bergmann called for a decision by majority vote. He ignored a request for a secret ballot. The matter was decided by a show of hands. I do not know the size of the majority. Along with several others, I had walked out in disgust. I have since asked Mr Bergman for a copy of the minutes of the meeting. My request has been ignored. I suspect no minutes were taken.

I have also asked Mr Bergmann for a copy of the agreement he signed with Woodside and the WA government, According to a note on the cover of the agreement, he signed: “On behalf of Kimberley Land Council representing the Traditional Owners (Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Native Title claimants).” Despite the fact that I am a registered applicant and the lead claimant, he has refused to do more than allow
me to glance through the document at his office. He will not allow me to take away a copy, so that I may seek advice and discuss it with others, claiming it is “commercial-in-confidence.”

When I heard about the briefing arranged by Senator Pratt, I wrote to Mr Bergmann asking him to include me in the team to attend. Despite a reminder letter, he has not responded. I have not been told who are the people billed as “senior men and women Traditional Owners”.

The Goolarabooloo people are not opposed to exploitation of the Browse Basin gas reserves. We recognise its potential economic benefit to Australia. But there are alternatives to processing the gas at James Price Point. They may even be cheaper. The other Browse Basin leaseholders (Chevron, Shell, BP and BHP Billiton) seem to think so; they are currently investigating these alternatives.

In February last year, the Parliament made an Apology for past wrongs to the Aboriginal people. It was a moving and memorable day. However, some cynics wondered whether it would mean anything in practice. The manner in which the Government handles the issue of James Price Point will go a long way to provide
the answer.

Joseph Roe 14 September 2009