Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cousins floats new threat to Woodside | The Australian

Cousins floats new threat to Woodside | The Australian: "Well the royalty stream is going to be precisely the same with the floating option so the money will still be there. And if the aim all along was to help the Aboriginal people, then I assume they're going to do that just as they promised."

Mr Cousins said Woodside and the state government would be "hypocrites" if they did not go through with their compensation packages, given they had cited the need for greater investment in remote Aboriginal communities when arguing with environmental groups over the merits of the James Price Point plan.

Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman last week made clear the $1.5bn compensation package previously negotiated with indigenous claimants around James Price Point would not materialise in the event that the Browse gas was processed through alternative methods.


  1. from the 4 corners "rush to riches"


    COLIN BARNETT, WA PREMIER: High rates of unemployment, ah poor education, poor health standards, ah domestic violence, abuse and neglect of children. Am I as the Premier of Western Australia going to sit back and say I’m going to give up the opportunity to help those people? I’m sorry. I will not do that.


    DON VOELTE: So it's not about the dollars. To me I really almost take offence when somebody says it's going to be this much money over this many years. That's not the point. The point is what are you doing to the community? What are you doing to healthcare in the area? What are we doing with education in the area?


    WAYNE BERGMANN: ... the financial package. Oh look, it's certainly in the hundreds of millions and in, in depending on how look at it, goes over in the billions of dollars.


    COLIN BARNETT: I know people will see this interview and say, you know, he's only after development, he doesn't care about the environment, doesn't care about the aborigines. Well, I'd say to people away from Western Australia, you go up there and look in the face of those little children and you tell them what you can offer them.


    Colin Barnett on Q & A - “this is the opportunity for Aboriginal people in that area. This is real jobs, real improvements in housing, education and health. Now, it’s all very well to say you shouldn’t do it. I cannot look a young Aboriginal boy or girl in the eyes and say, ‘I can offer you something better.’”


  2. Ben Wyatt, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

    The Aboriginal people of the Kimberley must be able to keep the benefits package agreed to by the Barnett Government as part of the land use agreement signed in 2011, regardless of how the gas is exploited, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and for the Kimberley, Ben Wyatt said today.

    Mr Wyatt said a land use agreement was signed by the WA Government with the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Native Title claimant group and Woodside to deliver a $1.5billion benefits package to the Aboriginal people that included employment, housing, land, training and services benefits.

    "The Aboriginal people of the Kimberley must be able to keep this crucial package once the Browse gas deposits are developed," Mr Wyatt said.

    "The Barnett Government and Woodside have no reason to walk away from the benefits package as it is needed to provide a future for the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley, their children and grandchildren."

    Mr Wyatt said when the land use agreement was signed, Premier Colin Barnett stated that the benefits package was important for the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley.

    Mr Barnett claimed that the benefits package was important due to 'the failure of so many welfare-driven programs or the totally unacceptable levels of suicide in many of our remote communities. It is time to do things differently. This agreement is designed to do just that'.

    Further, Mr Barnett claimed that the agreement was important for the 'traditional owners and their descendants, and for indigenous communities across the Dampier Peninsula and the entire region, the agreement will ensure an unprecedented level of economic independence'.

    "For Mr Barnett and the Joint Venture partners to walk away from the benefits package when the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley have met their end of the land use agreement would be the ultimate betrayal of what Mr Barnett describes as 'the most significant act of self-determination by an Aboriginal group in Australian history'," Mr Wyatt said.

    "The WA Government must remain committed to the benefits package and ensure that Woodside and the Joint Venture partners of Browse also remain committed to the benefits package for Aboriginal people of the Kimberley, regardless of how the Browse gas deposit is exploited," he said.

  3. WA Aboriginal communities to be ‘shut down’

    By Selena Black

    Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett has said many of the 200 remote Aboriginal communities in WA will be shut down.

    ABC Online reported on October 14 that Barnett said: "There's no doubt that under policies really initiated by the Federal Government, small, isolated Aboriginal communities were promoted.

    "The reality is that there's no employment prospects in those areas, or very limited."

    Barnett’s comments were in relation to the small community of Oombulgurri, where there are 50 residents and 14 public servants.


    WA Liberals grab Aboriginal land for Woodside

    October, 2010

    While Liberal leader Tony Abbott postures as the champion of Aboriginal land rights (see Wild Rivers article), Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett has begun proceedings to compulsorily acquire James Price Point—7457 hectares of pristine coastline in the Western Australian Kimberleys. The land will be used by Woodside Petroleum to build a $30 billion gas processing plant.

    Technically “Vacant Crown Land”, the area is the subject of yet to be determined Native Title claim. Negotiations over the plant have­­, until now, included the Kimberley Land Council (KLC).
    Under Native Title law, Traditional Owners do not have the right to block development of the gas plant, only to negotiate crumbs from Woodside’s table (see here). The acquisition would take the KLC out of negotiations completely.


    Throughout negotiations, both business and government have shamefully linked the “viability” of Aboriginal communities in the region to the project.

    Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin routinely supports the Intervention’s attacks on Aboriginal rights in the NT with the excuse that they are in the interests of Aboriginal children. Barnett sings from the same songsheet in justifying his landgrab in WA:

    “I know people will see this interview and say, you know, he’s only after development, he doesn’t care about the environment, doesn’t care about the Aborigines. Well, I’d say to people away from Western Australia, you go up there and look in the face of those little children and you tell them what you can offer them”.

    According to Woodside boss Don Voelte this potentially $50 billion dollar project is “not about the dollars”:

    “That’s not the point. The point is what are you doing to the community? What are you doing to healthcare in the area? What are we doing with education in the area?”


    WARREN GREATOREX: This is the only package. Part of the whole benefits package was to not only cater for the traditional owners locally but also another regional body that would accommodate the remaining Indigenous population right across the whole Kimberley.

    SIMON FRAZER: It's an aspect of today's decision that's particularly disappointed Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett.

    COLIN BARNETT: This is going to break the hearts of Aboriginal people who negotiated in good faith. I negotiated in good faith with them. We reached a historic agreement and a brave decision on their part to take responsibility for their own future, for their own economic independence.

    SIMON FRAZER: It's unclear how much money will bypass WA coffers if the project goes ahead offshore. Colin Barnett is adamant the state will benefit.

    COLIN BARNETT: This gas is off an island. And that island and the water around it is West Australian territory. We own a share of the gas.

    If the project goes ahead off shore, and I certainly don't want to see that happen, it's still a project that would bring significant benefits to Western Australia.


  4. From mega floods to mega drought?

    Quite a few "driest ever" records being broken.

    The map is worth a look.

    In case you hadn't noticed, it's dry out there.

    Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia - even the centre of the continent is suffering a lack of rainfall. In recent months that's been termed severe and though for some areas rain has fallen, for many others a new drought is threatening.

    In the Climate Commission report Critical Decade: Extreme Weather released last month, a forecast for more extreme heat and the resultant extreme weather events had little in it to cheer the fortunes of farmers.

    In the vast swathes of land from the Gulf Country in Queensland to the traditional cropping districts of Western Australia, farmers are sizing up the latest Federal Government assistance package and looking to the skies.


    But not for them the temporary relief of blaming an El Nino or La Nina weather cycle. Those culprits - responsible for the decade-long drought of the 2000s and the severe flooding across Queensland and New South Wales in recent years - are staying smugly in neutral conditions.

    As Australian farmers tighten their belts to weather yet another dry spell, and look to government aid packages to put food on the table, in the United States their counterparts are enjoying the benefits of crop insurance which is making their drought ravaged year as bearable as any other.

    Statistics from the US department of agriculture show a record $17.2 billion was paid in crop insurance for the 2012 crop, 60 per cent of which is stumped up by the US government.

    That sits alongside a US program worth $1.4 billion, helping farmers adapt to climate change.


    But what does have agreement is that the lack of rain could severely affect the national grain crop, livestock markets and production across a range of other agricultural industries.


    "When growers can't get planting finance, that's something which hasn't happened, I understand, since the Great Depression. So we've got a fairly critical issue which needs to be resolved quite quickly."

    A recent report by brokerage and investment firm CLSA warned that falling asset values are leaving Australian banks overexposed to farmer debt.

    Stephen Carroll from the Australian Banking Association says this partly explains lenders' reluctance to finance this season's crop.

    But Mr Carroll says changes to the Federal Government's drought policy are also a factor.

    "The banks have plenty of money to lend; it's whether or not the customer has the capacity to borrow.

    "There has been a significant change in government policy in recent times. In the past, there have been policies to support farmers planting crops, replanting grants and low-interest subsidies.

    "There has been a change (and) when those policies are not in place, it does make it more difficult for banks managing customers in financial difficulty."


    By 2030 Australia will face:
    a further 1 degree Celsius of warming in temperatures
    up to 20 per cent more months of drought
    up to 25 per cent increase in days of very high or extreme fire danger
    increases in storm surges and severe weather events.

    (Source: Federal Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education)


    I guess Abbott's plan for the Northern foodbowl could be under a bit of pressure?