Sunday, March 10, 2013

Broome now has its own mandate to categorical refused to issue the Social Licence to build the world’s largest gas refinery at James Price Point.

Do not despair; the fact of the matter is we are still in the same position as we were on Friday.
The Greens in Broome have had a huge positive swing of 12.5%  and this is the crowning success of this election in the Kimberley. As I write this the Greens are still in for a possible win. The Broome Polling booths clearly illustrated full support for the Greens with a large win over the libs. Broome now has its own mandate to categorical refused to issue the Social Licence to build the world’s largest gas refinery at James Price Point. 

The Greens were the only party that ran on a No Gas platform.   Congratulations to Chris Maher and his wonderful team of supporters for running an amazing campaign across one of the biggest electorate in Australia. 

Barnett is already squawking his win but the James Price Point’s ball is no longer in his court.  It sits firmly in the hands of the feds and the final decision of the joint venture partners. This campaign has known for some time now not to focus too much on the state government, their corrupted antics and dastardly dealings. We have strategically concentrated on educating our communities, doing the science and research, raising national awareness, attracting quality media coverage and enlisting international support. 

"not to lose heart " A Bob Brown’s timely reminder recently at the Brome Community No Gas event about the political climate in which the Franklin River was secured should be a comfort to those of us who have worked for over half a decade on this issue. 

The World Heritage Listing before of the Franklin occurred when the Labor government was defeated at a State election. The new liberal premier at that time, Robin Gray, was a staunch proponent of the dam who considered the Franklin River 'nothing but a brown ditch, leech-ridden and unattractive to the majority of people'. This sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? However, on 16 June, 1982 the newly elected Gray government revoked parts of the Wild Rivers National Park, paving the way for the development of the Gordon-below-Franklin power scheme.

This was met with massive passive resistance in the streets, in the forests and on the rivers themselves, as Australians rallied to fight for the Franklin. In the nearby town of Strahan, river blockaders were trained in techniques of non-violent resistance. Australia had seen nothing like it and the Franklin Blockade dominated the national media for almost three years. A total of 2,613 people registered at the TWS headquarters in Strahan to participate in the campaign, which continued through the summer of 1982-83 and resulted in the arrest of 1,272 people. Bob Brown was imprisoned for three weeks and many people, including David Bellamy, were remanded in custody.

Any move by Woodside into the Goolarabooloo sand dunes, grave sites and Songline in the coming months will again prick the conscience of the nation.  Massive resistance will erupt, in the cities, streets and in Country and people will demand that we as a nation have some true integrity to our “sorry”. Australia’s own international probity will be highlighted and exposed.  

Maybe, Burke will wait for the Joint Venture partners to make their final investment decision, taking pressure off himself.  Burke now has National Heritage Act for the protection of dinosaur tracksites, the recently federally recognised Monsoonal Vine Thickets as Endangered ecological community and the National Indigenous Heritage Act. All these Acts enables him in one way or other not to approve this proposal. 

Burke has the powers to call for a public inquiry into how the Strategic Assessment was so flawed given the facts that the proponents have failed to: 

  •   conduct a transparent assessment of alternative sites outside the Kimberley to process the Browse gas 
  •  achieve informed consent of the Traditional Owners, as evidenced by the legal uncertainty as to which group is the native title party 
  •  incorporate assessments of social impacts on Indigenous people 
  •   address the negative social impacts on the Broome community and 
  •  the WA Environment Protection Authority’s recommendation to the Western Australian Government to approve the project is now under legal challenge on the grounds that four members of the Board, who disqualified themselves from the decision-making process at a late stage, declaring conflicts of interest, may have influenced the final decision. (So print out and gather signatures for this petition NOW)   

Burke still has not articulated to the people of Australia, under what legislation will he base his decision on the social and economic impacts.  What legislation allows him and him alone to grant a social licence to operate in a society, where he does not have to live with the consequence of his decision. 

Two very strong court challenges are currently proceeding and either or both are capable of stopping, waylaying and delaying the project. This has always been one of our primary objectives as a campaign, to hold them up as long as possible in order to educate community and price them out of the market. None of the Joint Venture partner’s brands will come out of this unscathed should they be stupid enough to tempt faith and go ahead with this toxic filled greenhouse pumping proposal. People will hold corporate miscreants to account.  They do not take their good corporate citizens responsibilities seriously, but communities do and they will only get better at calling to account. 

Word on the street is that the third compulsory Acquisition NNTT has also been botched. 

So here we are a cohesive, educated, empowered, experienced and robust community. We have a national movement with an unrelenting momentum that’s building strength, that has refined its expertise and has created broad reaching networks that span across this planet. 

The campaign no longer needs to be pushed into acceleration; it has a life of its own. It’s powered by the love of Country. Its principled in social justice for community, country and culture and has economic equity as the fringing benefit. This campaign is clearly heading for victory. Victory, for indigenous cultural heritage and justice,  for a community’s resilient spirit and our children’s future. 

Major environmental groups are all seeking to hang their hats onto this community based campaign. Why? Because, its winnerable. Many communities across Australia have been inspired by our struggle, and empowered by our pluck. 

What really saddens me  about  Barnet win, is the example we are giving our children.  That wealth, at the cost of a planet is success,  privilege  without conscience is freedom, science without humanity is correct, knowledge without character is acceptable, politics without principle is desirable and commerce without morality is very profitable.

Regardless of the election results the plain simple truth is they will never take James Price Point away from the people.Walmadany is an area of  outstanding  cultural significance and its people’s recognition of this that generates the tenacity and resolve to protect it. 

By the way the dam was finally stopped when a newly elected Federal Labor government used its constitutional foreign affairs power to enforce its treaty obligations under the World Heritage Convention. In a close vote on 1 July, 1983, the High Court of Australia subsequently upheld the Commonwealth’s position against a challenge from the State of Tasmania.


  1. Great article. Thanks for keeping us strong. ITS STILL NOT A DONE DEAL!

  2. Another one of your best,thanks well done.