Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shire of Broome Election Saturday 15 October, 2011

This is a significant and crucial time in the history of Broome, at a point where decisions made now will change the course of our lives and our community. It will not be an easy time to represent the people. Our future, the future of Broome should be determined by us.

With regard to the gas processing /industrial precinct at James Price Point, we have not been provided with a choice of how the Shire of Broome will look and ‘be’ in the next 20 to 40 years. Local Government has been much aligned over recent years, but what choice do the 18,000 residents of Broome have about their future? The Shire is not an interest group, it is not a stakeholder, it is the only representative body we have specifically for all Broome people. While the Shire has many responsibilities under the Local Government Act, it is the only body that has the obligation to represent us all. This election on 15th October is very important and everyone who can, must vote.

The State Government intends to locate an industrial precinct for gas processing and heavy industry within the Shire of Broome 50 kilometres from the Town. Irrespective of the prospective energy companies the State will locate an industrial precinct within the Shire. At what point do we have a collective choice about this? In reality, the Commonwealth and State Governments may not listen to us, but the Shire must advocate the case for what we call Broome.
We do not support industrialisation of the coast. We do not support the location of a gas processing precinct at James Price point or the destruction of the Lurujarri Songline. It is possible to have a future that values that which we already have, Indigenous culture and practice, gorgeous landscapes, beautiful clean air and water, a diverse, important and interesting heritage and a diverse economy that has thrived over the last few decades and which has a very bright outlook. In the Australian context, Broome within the Kimberley is like that little bit of public open space between the Pilbara and Darwin, the space that people love to gather in, relax and enjoy.
Our choice then is expanding and excelling at what we have or the imposition of heavy industry to our coast. Broome has some excellent opportunities (some are related to heavy industry and processing of offshore gas), and there is no need to allow industry on the coast under the guise of economic development and potential job opportunities. It is possible for the gas and oil to be processed and exported from the Pilbara or offshore. The royalties earned will still go to the State and the Commonwealth Governments. The Broome Shire will never get a direct share in royalties from gas but will be dependent on these governments to fund and resource the impacts of heavy industry. Many have argued, advocated and lobbied long and hard for Government resources to be put into the region so that people here have access to Governments’ services equivalent to those provided to people in metropolitan areas. Gas processing or not we will still have to do this. There will not be an automatic provision of services and the money is not going to flow for some years yet.
The future can be growing the Broome brand, expanding tourism in all its forms, we have an excellent tourism future. How about 10, 000 Gorgon and other Pilbara workers taking time off in Broome for a holiday for a starter? An Australian domestic tourism market that dreams of going to Broome. How many times have you heard people say “ oh Broome that’s on my list of places to go.”? That 64% of Kimberley tourism is from Broome is a great benchmark to maintain.
The two things most important to visitors to Broome and the rest of the Kimberley are Indigenous culture and the wilderness or natural landscapes. These are ready to sell, to protect and develop and to grow. Tourism means people, means many flow on effects, building and construction, services and value added product. The Broome brand is well known nationally and internationally, it can be built on.
Broome is a regional service centre and not just for government services. Broome can be sold as the place for key companies to locate their north west offices, management and contracting services, Broome has an opportunity to promote itself as a regional centre for the fledgling manufacturing and service industries to support exploration and drilling. Pearling is an integral part of Broome and its history, the industry has had its ups and downs over the last 125 years, but it invariably survives and will again. Other opportunities that do not have the damaging effects of heavy industry include horticulture, some agriculture, aquaculture other than pearling, training and education, arts, music, film and television. At one time, we had four Universities with campuses in Broome, there is no doubt Broome could be a great centre for education, add to Kimberley TAFE and Notre Dame University and others, a technical training school, an Institute of Maritime Studies, a Hotel School, or a film, television and media school and so on, education centres that reflect our current industries and that can support the drive for skilled labour for the resources sector.
Broome is world renowned for its music, the arts and Indigenous media and these have enriched our lives as a community for a very long time. The achievements of the music, arts and culture industry can be built upon to achieve further success and they provide a huge potential for social and economic development outcomes. Indeed, sport can do this as well. The natural environment that we enjoy has been respected, managed and protected by Indigenous people for centuries, we have flora and fauna species so prolific, some endangered, some vulnerable and many not yet named, dinosaur tracksites of International Heritage value, landscapes so beautiful that not many other small towns have such a plethora of professional photographers, a coast that boasts one of the best beaches in the world and a marine environment significant because it is like the Antarctic one of the least human impacted marine environments in the world. Broome doesn’t have to have or even need, heavy industry here to survive, we must have the chance to determine our own choice for the future. There is valuable potential, we just need to explore and develop it.
The whole of the Broome community has not had the opportunity to have a full and frank debate about the proposed Kimberley LNG Precinct and, has not had an opportunity to explore its choices about its future. Consultations to date have been limited to ‘stakeholder’ workshops, planning for the impacts and managing them. This is not choice. We are presented with a Social Impact Assessment that tells us how we will manage the influences, the impacts, the population explosion and how the State Government expects to manage the problems and required resources. It does not acknowledge that we are already struggling with some of these. This will be a very good time for our Local Government, the Shire of Broome to really look at its core responsibilities as well as taking every economic opportunity available to resource further facilities and services within the Shire. The people of the Shire of Broome must ensure that their Local Government stands by the vision the community has for its brand, its country and its people.
This election is not just about the potential for industrialisation and the commitment to manage it but may well be about the survival of the Shire of Broome as a local government. Town Planning for the whole Shire may produce a new town or regional planning scheme and proposed new planning regulations may well mean that the Shire of Broome will lose control of the planning approval process.
Broome faces a number of challenges over the next few years:
• Town Planning – planning is underway for a new Town Planning Scheme for the whole Shire, a Master Plan is being prepared for the Dampier Peninsula. Council must make sure that that planning is determined by the vision of the community about how the area will look, will progress, how and we will live in the future. It is critical that Council leads this process including:
• Development and suitable zoning of land to increase the levels of affordable housing
• Understanding new planning arrangements how will they affect Local Government control over planning
• Environmental health services, town planning and delivery of municipal services to Indigenous Communities
• Retaining our style, heritage, design guidelines, liveability of new areas, climate appropriate building design
• Rethinking parking requirements and balancing that with routes and opportunities for public transport and pedestrian access ways
• Public Open Space management, care and ownership
• Potential impacts of proposed development on the Dampier Peninsula for the Shire as an operating entity An increased capacity of Council’s resources will be required to manage these impacts.
• Management of the coast and consideration of how the coastline will be managed, there is potential for walking turtle and dinosaur tracksites’ tours on Cable Beach and whale watching licences, how will these be managed?
• Financial Management and the careful use of funds will be extremely important as the Shire copes with the expected impacts from a population boom.
• Maximise resources and seek new sources of income, perhaps redevelopment of existing assets and seeking out other revenue opportunities, perhaps by way of small land developments for inexpensive housing, or sourcing income from recycling of waste or also consider development of a new small airport for light aircraft and helicopters out of the Broome townsite, perhaps in collaboration with the Yawuru people. Council consider differential rating for other than tourism marketing, for example environmental protection?
• Waste management, the tip may last just another few years at the current rate of landfill, a new waste management facility and rethinking of waste recovery, recycling and management, we will all pay for waste that goes into the land fill to achieve this.
• Operational funding for the Multipurpose Community and Performing Arts centre.
• There is a proposal to alter the Airport Development Plan to include non- aviation activities including workers’ accommodation and temporary non-aviation warehousing and storage do we really need this in the middle of town? Approval of these ensures that the moving of the airport is delayed further. Big issues need to be addressed, the airport will need to be moved out of town. How will Council manage complaints about the increasing noise pollution from small aircraft and helicopters? Council’s State of Environment Report needs to be re assessed and strategies properly resourced. Drainage and pollution aspects of the airport’s operations adjacent to a Ramsar wetland must be addressed and if need be, referred to the Commonwealth Department for Environment.
• While the Shire does not have responsibility, it must advocate and lobby the position of all residents to both the State and Commonwealth Governments for improved power supply, roads, footpaths and public transport, telephone/internet services, health, education and housing.
• Council has a moral obligation to protect and support the community, our children and young people and to enhance our natural environment, history, heritage, and Indigenous culture and practice.

The election on Saturday 15th October is about the community’s confidence in the Shire of Broome’s management of its people, its resources and its responsibilities, and planning for a bright future. Electors have a responsibility to vote in this election and winning candidates have the ultimate responsibility of listening to the people seeking that bright future.

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