Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SBS On Demand | TV and Online Video - Heritage Fight Ep1

SBS On Demand | TV and Online Video - Heritage Fight Ep1

Broome citizens and the traditional custodians of the land - the Goolaraboloo - united together to protect what is priceless to them.


  1. Shell says floating LNG technology up to 50 per cent cheaper than onshore development

    Shell has revealed floating LNG processing platforms can be 30 to 50 per cent cheaper to construct than onshore facilities.

    Onshore developments includes pipelines from the field to shore, port facilities and a land based gas plant.

    Floating platforms avoid the need for a pipeline or port facilities.

    While floating technology has fewer upfront capital costs, offshore facilities are more expensive to operate.

    Shell's country chair in Australia, Andrew Smith, says the difference in upfront capital costs more than offsets the difference in operating costs over the life of the project.

    He was giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry in Perth into the economic impacts of floating LNG.

    Difference between offshore versus onshore jobs questioned

    Shell is building the first floating LNG platform to exploit the Prelude gas field off Western Australia.

    It plans to use the same technology to develop the Browse Basin off the Kimberley coast after the Woodside-led consortium, which it is part of, abandoned development at James Price Point because of escalating costs.

    Mr Smith said FLNG gave the Browse project an option for development.

    "FLNG allows for significant cost reduction which made the difference between a project that was economically unviable to one that was economically viable, Mr Smith said."

    In prior hearings for the inquiry this week, the committee revealed it had figures which showed the rate of return between the onshore and offshore development options for Browse only differed by about one per cent.

    The committee's Fran Logan said a submission from another un-named organisation stated James Price Point provided an 11.5 per cent rate of return while floating LNG provided 12.5 per cent.

    But today, Mr Smith disputed the claim, saying he does not recognise the figures which have been spoken about.

    Meanwhile, Shell refused to quantify how many construction jobs the onshore development would have created for WA.

    The committee asked the company to quantify the difference between offshore versus onshore development.

    Mr Smith said James Price Point wouldn't have created any jobs because the project simply wouldn't have gone ahead.

    Prelude the first to use floating LNG technology

    The Prelude project off the WA coast will become the first field in the world exploited using floating LNG technology.

    The platform is currently being built in Korea with other specialised infrastructure being built elsewhere overseas.

    Mr Smith said while the construction and design is happening offshore, most of the operational jobs will be given to Australian workers.

    Shell anticipates the project will create 350 direct jobs and 650 indirect positions, more than 70 per cent of which it says will be given to local workers.

    Shell is expected to reveal the rate of return figures and the capital cost difference for the Browse Project in a closed hearing with the committee.

    The inquiry continues.

    1. Chevron admitted some time back one of the major causes of their blowout on Gorgon was that they were slow learners - and that cost them big time at a critical time for the project.

      It hasn't been mentioned since.


      Chevron says there are unanswered questions around Floating LNG technology

      US energy giant Chevron says there are unanswered questions over the use of floating liquefied natural gas technology to develop remote gas fields.

      Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski has told a Western Australian parliamentary committee that floating LNG technology is suitable for smaller, stranded gas fields.

      But he says the technology is unproven and there are concerns when it comes to cyclones and plant maintenance.

      "For us there is still some unanswered questions, including the safety case for extreme weather locations, and those locations for example, include high cyclone areas, frequent cyclone areas," he said.

      "It is unclear to us how these issues impact on the continuity of operations on a day to day basis ... specifically the availability and reliability of these facilities when comparing these facilities to land based plants."

      Woodside Petroleum is planning to use the new technology to develop the Browse Basin gas fields off the north west coast of WA.

      Cyclones are common in the area during summer.

      Woodside and global energy giant Shell, which is developing the floating LNG technology at its Prelude project off the north west coast, have defended the technology saying it is designed to withstand severe weather conditions.

      More expensive

      Mr Krzywosinski slammed the high cost of LNG projects in Australia citing research from business consultants McKinsey, which found that new Australian LNG projects were 30 percent more expensive than similar projects in Canada and East Africa.

      That conclusion was recently disputed by economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel in a report commissioned by the Maritime Union.

      Mr Krzywosinki told the inquiry that the development of floating LNG is an industry response to the high cost of gas projects in Australia.

      "If the high cost environment is not addressed, then I suspect floating LNG will remain on the table for Australia," he said.

      The Chevron Australia boss says governments and industry need to work together bring down the costs of doing business here or risk projects going to other LNG producers such as the United States or Africa.

      Mr Krzywosinki blamed the $9 billion cost blowout on Chevron's giant Gorgon gas project off the north-western Australia on "country activity".

      He said the logistical challenge of building the project on Barrow Island, which is an A-class nature reserve, and weather delays, high wages for gas industry workers and low productivity, increased the cost of the project.

      The Maritime Union of Australia blames the cost blowout and delays on mismanagement by Chevron and multiple tiers of management.

      Cost blowout

      Last December, Chevron announced the expected cost of building Gorgon had increased from $43 billion to $52 billion.

      It said at the time that the cost blowout was caused by factors including wages and productivity associated with Barrow Island site infrastructure, logistics challenges and weather delays.

      Chevron also said that the high Australian dollar and currency impacts accounted for around one-third of the projected cost increase.

      Mr Krzywosinski says Chevron will spend more than $50 billion on local goods, services and jobs on both its Gorgon and the Wheatstone natural gas projects.

      More than 16,000 people are being employed to construct the two big resources projects and 1,600 people will work on the projects once they are completed later this decade.

      The inquiry is looking at the economic implications of FLNG operations in WA and its impact on state revenue.

      The committee's report is expected to handed down by May next year.

  2. Chevron asks State for more Barrow

    Chevron and its Gorgon partners have asked for approval to use more of the Barrow Island nature reserve, having run out of room to accommodate construction of their $US52 billion ($53.9 billion) LNG development.

    The Barrow Island Amendment Bill 2013 began its passage through State Parliament yesterday, though Gorgon operator Chevron still requires environmental approval before it can add 32 hectares to the project's original 300ha footprint.

    Chevron was last night at pains to point out the 10 per cent increase in Gorgon's overall footprint meant the project still disturbed just a fraction of the 20,000ha island, off the Pilbara.

    Environmental groups, however, are likely to be up in arms.

    The logistical challenge of building a 15.6 million-tonne-a- year LNG plant, complete with domestic gas and carbon reinjection plants, on a Class A nature reserve island have been a key cause why Chevron has had to increase the budget for Gorgon from $US37 billion to $US52 billion. _WestBusiness _reported two months ago that updated internal estimates by Chevron put Gorgon's likely cost at $US58 billion, a figure it will not confirm.

    Chevron and its key Gorgon partners, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, have already begun using Barrow Island land designated for use by another Chevron joint venture, Barrow Island oil, as well as the island's airport to lay down and store materials.

    It is thought at least 100ha, outside the Gorgon footprint but already licensed for industrial purposes on Barrow Island, are either being used by the Gorgon JV or in the process of being re-assigned by the WA Government for Gorgon purposes.

    Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski will today front the Economics and Industry Standing Committee's floating LNG inquiry, where he is expected to spell out the benefits of land-based LNG plants to the State such as Gorgon's provision so far of $20 billion of local content, and likely to increase to $30 billion.
    He may also be asked how much Barrow Island land Chevron is using for Gorgon.

  3. More exploration permits granted for Great Australian Bight

    Exploration permits for the Great Australian Bight have been awarded to Santos, Chevron, and Murphy Australia Oil.

    South Australian Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the exploration work could be worth almost $600 million.

    "Not only is the Cooper Basin attracting attention but the Bight basin in Commonwealth waters off the South Australian coast is also being acknowledged as a target for exploration," he said.

    Permits have been granted to joint venturers Murphy Australia and Santos Offshore Pty Ltd and to Chevron Australia New Ventures Pty Ltd for two exploration areas.

    Mr Koutsantonis said there had been advances in exploration techniques.

    "Previous drilling in the region in the early 1990s has encouraged explorers to return to the Bight basin to seek out the potential for large oil and gas accumulations," he said.

    The permits extend from waters 150 metres deep to those of up to 3,700 metres in the eastern basin.

    BP Exploration also has permits to explore in the central part of the Bight basin.

    Santos executive Bill Ovenden said the company was pleased to be able to explore in the Ceduna sub-basin, about 200 kilometres off the coast.

    "While there's been very little exploration in this region, we would rate the Ceduna (sub-basin) as one of the last true unexplored deltas in the world," he said.


    Qld govt opens more land for coal

    The Queensland government is calling for tenders to explore coal in more than 1200 square kilometres of land in the Bowen Basin in central Queensland.

    Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps says this is the first ever non-cash tender for coal exploration.

    "The Newman government understands that a vibrant exploration sector is critical to uncovering the mineral deposits and mines of the future, and non-cash tender processes offer the opportunity for junior explorers to make their mark," he said in a statement.

    Interested parties have until March 5 next year.

    This comes as the government announced it's clearing a backlog of exploration permits.
    Mr Cripps says a backlog of about 1400 exploration permit applications had been cleared by his department in the past week.

  4. Contract riches for audit chief

    Tony Abbott's hand-picked auditor charged with assessing government spending and advising on outsourcing runs a company that has won contracts from the federal government worth more than half a billion dollars.

    The opposition has accused the government of stacking its Commission of Audit with big-business representatives and ideological fellow travellers.

    Business Council of Australia chairman Tony Shepherd will lead the commission while the lobby group's chief economist and director of policy, Peter Crone, will head its secretariat.

    The commission is to recommend sweeping, long-term reforms to the budget to ensure it moves into surplus in the medium term, including examining potential spending cuts and the privatisation of government assets.

    Mr Shepherd is chairman of Transfield Services, a construction and services firm that has won a string of contracts in recent years worth hundreds of millions of dollars. These include the contract for maintenance and support services at the Nauru detention centre worth $184.3 million.

    Mr Shepherd is understood to be leaving his Transfield position at the end of this week.

    Also listed on the Austender website are Transfield contracts with the Defence Department worth more than $400 million.

    Asked on Tuesday whether there was a conflict of interest in appointing Mr Shepherd to oversee a process that could see substantial government functions outsourced to the private sector, Mr Hockey said: ''We don't apologise for appointing the best team to eliminate government waste.''

    The BCA, which represents Australia's top 100 companies, has advocated an increase in the GST but wants a large cut to the corporate tax rate while railing against any reduction in what has been dubbed ''business welfare'', including tax concessions for depreciation, research and development and mining exploration.

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: ''It is truly extraordinary that the Liberals have outsourced their policymaking to big-business lobby groups. These are the business groups who have publicly called for an increase in the GST, reducing penalty rates and the minimum wage.''

    The BCA has been calling for a commission of audit for years to fix structural problems in the budget.

    Economists, community groups and budget experts contacted by Fairfax Media welcomed the audit as long overdue but there was some disquiet about the heavy presence of the BCA.

    Richard Denniss, the executive director of the left-leaning Australia Institute, said the BCA had been a close ally of the Coalition when it was in opposition, opposing the carbon and mining taxes and supporting the ''greatly exaggerated'' contention that Australia had a significant debt problem.

    ''It's like getting Greenpeace to do an audit of environment policy,'' he said.

    Dr Denniss said he was concerned about the influence of the BCA on the commission's views on the ideal level of overall taxation and therefore the amount of money available for social services.

    The Australian Council of Social Service welcomed Mr Shepherd's appointment but said ''the absence of a community representative from civil society means it will be vital that the commissioners work closely with the community sector''.

    Small-business leader Peter Strong also praised Mr Shepherd but said he would watch closely to ensure that any flagged privatisation did not favour big business or increase its power over smaller operators, especially when it came to Australia Post.

    Mr Shepherd was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

    Another commission member is former federal public servant Peter Boxall, who oversaw the introduction of WorkChoices during the Howard government.

  5. Nippon head hits out over gas critics

    ONE of Japan's pre-eminent business leaders has hit back at criticism from Australian LNG producer Woodside over the Japanese government's attempts to drive prices lower. Akio Mimura, the chairman of Nippon Steel and co-chair of the peak Japan-Australia business body, said it was wrong to say the Japanese government was intervening in the LNG market, but there was a clear need for lower pricing.

    His remarks came in response to a speech from Woodside's Mark Hanna in which he said Japan's Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade was foisting losses on Japanese power companies and jeopardising future projects by "distorting" the LNG market.

    Mr Mimura said he rejected the idea that the government -- which is open about trying to end oil-linked pricing of natural gas and is imposing price caps on gas buyers -- was actually intervening in the market. "I think this kind of policy measure is naturally taken for any government. It's a quite appropriate policy," he told a press conference following the end of this week's Japan-Australia Joint Business Conference in Tokyo. "The government policy, as I see it, is not in any way a direct intervention to the pricing of LNG."I think the government policy is (about) doing it in an indirect way to create an environment that will enable a more affordable price for LNG buyers.

    "Japan buys 70 per cent of Australia's LNG exports and has been a major source of equity and project funding for local LNG projects.

    Mr Mimura said the high price of LNG imports -- which have soared in terms of volume after the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster -- was damaging Japan's balance of payments.

    "We are seeing an environment now where power companies in Japan have to import an enormous amount of LNG because of the shutdown of nuclear power units at a price higher than the European price and the American price.

    "Power companies have no choice but to purchase LNG under such conditions, which is adversely affecting the balance of payments.

    "The additional cost is in the tune of Y=3 trillion ($31 billion). That means that the per-person cost of this is in excess Y=30,000. Every person in Japan is bearing the burden of Y=30,000."The comments have emerged amid a fierce behind-the-scenes battle over LNG pricing that is pitting Japan and other Asian buyers, and their allies in the US shale gas industry, against producers from Australia and Qatar.

    Over the past year, the Japanese government has repeatedly declared its intention to smash the current oil-linked pricing of LNG in Asia in favour of a pricing linked to US domestic gas prices, which are at historic lows of less than $US4 per million British thermal units.

    At the same time, it has been pressuring utilities to invest in shale gas supplies from the US in an attempt to bring down prices from producers in Australia and the Middle East.Japan's national resources agency, JOGMEC, is helping Japanese trading houses and energy companies to bankroll unconventional gas projects in the US and Africa that Japan hopes will compete with shipments from Australia and Qatar.Producers are alerting the Australian government to the risk that Japan's actions could pose to tax revenues from LNG sales and the issue may come up for discussion when Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane visits Japan in coming weeks.


    Asked at the press conference about the LNG pricing battle, Sir Rod said that "increasingly these commodities are part of a global market and ultimately the market needs to sort this out".

    He also called for a resumption of nuclear power-generation in Japan, saying it was necessary from an energy security viewpoint for Japan to re-embrace nuclear energy.

    Almost all of Japan's nuclear reactors are shut down and are awaiting safety clearance by new regulators installed after the nuclear accident at Fukushima in March 2011.

  6. Andrew Forrest's familial links to League of Rights

    BILLIONAIRE philanthropist Andrew Forrest recruited the former head of the Australian League of Rights - an extremist group accused of anti-Semitism - as his head of external relations when he ran troubled mining company Anaconda Nickel, a new biography of the magnate reveals. Mr Forrest, a devout Christian who carries the Bible with him, hired David Thompson as a senior executive at Anaconda soon after he stood down as the national director of the League of Rights in the late 1990s.Mr Thompson - who lives in NSW and is married to the elder sister of Mr Forrest's wife, Nicola - courted controversy during his time with the league by organising speaking tours to Australia by the British Holocaust denier David Irving.The revelations are contained in the book Twiggy: the High-Stakes Life of Andrew Forrest, by Andrew Burrell, a journalist with The Australian.

    Mr Forrest rejected repeated approaches to co-operate with Burrell and to respond to claims made by others in the book, due to be released next week. The Australian has also unsuccessfully approached Mr Forrest for comments on the revelations to emerge from the book. It reveals that Mr Forrest invited his then business partner, Warwick Grigor, to attend a League of Rights meeting in Sydney in 1994 when the pair ran investment bank Far East Capital.

    In an interview with the author, Mr Grigor recalls he told Mr Forrest it "probably wasn't a good idea" to attend the meeting because of the league's poor public image. He says he can't be certain whether Mr Forrest went to the function or had direct involvement in the group.

    However, it is known that Nicola Forrest's family had long been heavily involved in the league in NSW.Her parents, Tony and Brooke Maurice, had hosted meetings for the league since the early 1970s and a front group created to contest the 1983 federal election, the Christian Alternative Movement, was formed at the farm they owned in western NSW.In 1991, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission described the league as "undoubtedly the most influential and effective, as well as the best-organised and most substantially financed, racist organisation in Australia".

    The book does not suggest that Mr Forrest, who has championed schemes to boost indigenous employment and is attempting to stop global slavery, and his family hold any racist views.

    According to the book, Mr Forrest hired Mr Thompson as his external relations chief at Anaconda Nickel, a role that involved lobbying the company's powerful shareholders in a bid to keep Mr Forrest on the board.

    Mr Thompson remained at Anaconda until Mr Forrest was eventually forced out in 2001, after Anaconda had lost hundreds of millions of dollars of shareholder funds due to technical problems at the company's Murrin Murrin nickel plant in Western Australia.In the book, Mr Thompson says he does not recall Mr Forrest being involved in the league.

    The biography investigates how Mr Forrest transformed himself, through boundless energy and brilliant salesmanship, from a corporate pariah after being removed from Anaconda into one of Australia's most successful entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

    Last week, the Forrests donated a record-breaking $65 million to the tertiary sector before a VIP audience that included Tony Abbott, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett and state Governor Malcolm McCusker.

  7. Equity taken on trust

    THE native title dividend to indigenous Australians from mining companies alone is now worth as much as $3 billion a year, with much of this income flowing to Aborigines living in poor and isolated places. It's a significant income stream that presents an opportunity to improve the lives of these communities, provided of course that the money actually hits the ground and is managed prudently for the long term as well. The reality is that it's still possible for a mining trust with $40 million in assets to have the same structure as a darts club, according to the federal regulator, with no compulsion to release an annual report or to be federally supervised.

    The $3bn figure was included in a recent Treasury-led working group report on native title benefits, though it was calculated by the Minerals Council of Australia using audited financial accounts for the 2011-12 year. It includes payments for land access agreements and heritage approvals, and represents a significant 2 per cent of the value of mineral production in that year.

    The industry has been pushing for reforms to move away from the existing charitable trust model by creating a new entity known as the Indigenous Community Development Corporation. The government is now considering this option, which could in practice allow money to be distributed more easily on "indigenous businesses and associated initiatives". The proposal coincides with a push by some cashed-up communities -- especially those benefiting from mineral riches -- to have greater freedom to spend their mining-boom bonuses.

    The Treasury report suggested that carpet-baggers were preying on native title recipients when it called for "urgent steps to regulate private agents . . . involved in negotiating native title future act agreements". This indicates there is a serious problem out there in the native title industry.

    Indeed, two of the biggest mining-related trusts have been mired in controversy amid claims of fraud in the case of one, and serious financial mismanagement for another.Despite Tony Abbott's plan to make indigenous advancement a top priority, the Coalition said very little about these issues in the lead-up to the election. It did not include any policy reforms to strengthen governance in its indigenous policy.Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has now flagged changes to require all corporations that receive federal funding to be incorporated under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act), and thereby supervised by the federal regulator, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations.

    "This would ensure that indigenous organisations can access the important support services provided by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations and that there is an active regulator that will investigate and take appropriate action on any wrongdoing," Senator Scullion tells The Australian.

    Scullion says he can not confirm how much money is at stake with mining agreements because the "majority of agreements made between indigenous groups and development proponents are commercial-in-confidence and in most cases these payments are private funds"

    .This comment is true, and it may indicate government has no role to play in regulating these corporations. Indeed, Aboriginal beneficiaries of the mining boom have as much right to blow their takings as many non-indigenous Australians have done.

    1. Yes they may "...have as much right to blow their takings as many non-indigenous Australians have done" but they are responsible for many of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in Australia or the world.

      The confirmation that trust funds "may have been spent in the local Skycity casino" (below) reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with an Aboriginal bloke who had been to Perth on a learning course and decided to go out and see the Burswood Casino one night.

      He was surprised to see the boss of his community gambling away at one of the tables.

      He found out that not only was he a regular big gambler there but he also had a taste for lots of white hookers.

      "No wonder we haven't any money for the community" he said "this explains it and he's always blaming it on the Gadyer for us being broke."

      Another well known one for waste is of course the "community chequebook."

      A family group is given a block and money to help them put in a bore and build shelter etc.

      Some years ago in Broome there was a well known bloke who charged around 50% to cash community cheques, a cheque for $200 would be cashed for $100.

      So if the bottle shop the TAB or drug dealer or whatever wouldn't take a cheque,cash was available.

      There were also stories of people responsible for signing off on various projects taking cash in exchange for signing knowing full well the project would never be done and the money wasted.

      And so on.

      Guess we are all the same species then.

      No doubt about it.

      No wonder kids everywhere have no hope and no respect.

  8. Equity taken on trust


    But this argument ignores the fact that most indigenous corporations benefit from tax-exempt status when distributing their money, and that the federal government alone spent $25.4bn in services for the nation's 575,000 Aboriginal people in 2010-11; $44,128 per capita.

    Senator Scullion has in fact inherited what is the biggest of all mining-related funds, the $444m Aboriginals Benefit Account, which receives royalty-related income for mining in the NT.

    His predecessor, Jenny Macklin, signed off on proposals to spend this capital on recurrent expenses like $500,000 on funerals and ceremonies, and $3.5m on township leases.

    In Scullion's own backyard, a can of financial worms has opened up regarding one of the oldest indigenous trusts, the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust, which has been receiving royalties from manganese mining since the early 1960s.GEAT has been the subject of a police investigation that confirmed Darwin rumours trust funds may have been spent in the local Skycity casino.

    The investigation by fraud squad detectives seized documents, boats and cars as far afield as north Queensland. The case, before the NT Supreme Court, involves 17 charges of theft and false accounting by GEAT director Rosalie Lalara.

    Unlike most Aboriginal corporations that are now federally supervised, GEAT is incorporated in the NT as an association and is not even required to lodge a financial return.

    "There is no requirement under the Associations Act for the Trust to provide annual reports. As such, we are unable to provide a copy," says a spokesman for the NT Department of Business.

    A copy of GEAT's 2010 return obtained by The Australian shows that it had something in common with the ABA -- the trust was also a big spender on funerals and ceremonies, which account for more than $1m of its $11m income in that year. And, despite having earned $28m in the 2009 and 2010 financial years alone, the trust has net assets of just $45m after more than 40 years of operation.Anthony Beven, who heads the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, says for most indigenous entities it is "largely a voluntary decision" as to whether they incorporate federally.

    He says the regulatory regime that GEAT operates under is more appropriate for "darts clubs, sporting clubs and parents and citizens associations", not multi-million-dollar entities or those delivering essential services.

    Beven says the governance of indigenous corporations regulated by his office has significantly improved in recent years, with fewer corporations requiring regulatory intervention or investigation. However, given the lack of compulsion, he may have a biased sample.While there has been a big increase in incorporation over the past five years, Beven says the only entities required to incorporate under the CATSI Act were registered native title bodies corporate, royalty associations in the NT and some remote NT stores.

    In 2011, RIC examined the finances of one of the biggest mining-related entities after four directors of the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation spoke out about excessive spending and mismanagement within the corporation.

    The RIC review found, among many irregularities, that GAC had 350 individual expense accounts, which it described as "excessive"; and there were 106 transactions made to related parties without due process.

    RIC's 27-page report said GAC had paid debt-collection expenses of one individual and lent money to others, which had not been repaid, while in the September 2011 quarter alone GAC's records showed $92,414 of "unrecorded" credit card expenses.

    It found inconsistencies in superannuation payments to the chief executive, Steve Mav, as the payments "did not agree with" his employment contract, and there was no statement in the annual report on the salaries of senior executives.

  9. Equity taken on trust


    Mav describes himself as "well remunerated".RIC ended its monitoring of GAC in October last year after it had met all of the regulator's requirements.

    GAC presides over one of the wealthiest indigenous trusts in the country and in 2012 received $20m to fund its running costs. The corporation is the result of the Yandi Land Use Agreement, the first such agreement, which was signed in March 1997 by three language groups in the Pilbara, the Nyiyaparli, Banyjima and Innawonga peoples, and a Rio Tinto subsidiary.


    GIPL's 2012 financial statements show net assets of $72m have been accumulated since the agreement was signed. This might sound like a substantial amount for a community of 1200, but it's not when compared with the $63m of net income earned by the foundation in the past two financial years alone. Evidently, GAC's growing operational costs and distributions are consuming more than half of all income.

    Mav, a former Glenorchy city councillor who ran as an unsuccessful Liberal candidate for the Tasmanian parliament, took up the role as chief executive five years ago when GAC had a budget of $2m and seven staff. The operation has grown tenfold on his watch.


    "We are restricted because we risk losing our Public Benevolent Institution if we make regular cash benefits to the traditional owners," he said. "Our constraint is that our tax-exemption status on compensation monies is contingent on not making regular cash benefits to our traditional owners.

    "GAC receives no government funding and runs 30 programs for its 1200 members in health, education, community development, business development, law and culture. In proposing this model, Mav tells The Australian such cash distributions should not reduce the welfare payments of GAC members, because the income is "compensatory in nature".

    Mav dismisses claims made by Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest that cash distributions will amount to "mining welfare". He says it is "paternalistic" to say indigenous people cannot manage money and that cash benefits should be restricted.


    The company has been appointed as trustee for two agreements signed recently by Pilbara communities with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. The agreements have a direct benefit trust and a charitable trust for each language group, whose beneficiaries range from 150 to 260 individuals. Butler says that, while the agreements are rigorous, this means the community does not have to continually meet to operate the trusts, as this is the trustee's role.

    The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, a native title representative body for the traditional owners of the Pilbara, has negotiated several major agreements in recent years with large and small miners.

    Chief executive Simon Hawkins says complexity is driven by the fact that agreements run for 60 to 70 years and they "try to deal with all possible scenarios".


    Two decades after Aboriginal people gained national native title rights, the challenge remains for the federal government to ensure this reform generates lasting benefits for present and future generations of Aboriginal people.

    Indigenous trusts• 2534 Aboriginal corporations are incorporated under federal law; about 2000 are supervised by the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations• $3 billion a year in mining-related income earned by Aboriginal corporations in 2011-12• The top 500 corporations earned $1.43 billion in 2010-11 and had $1.55bn in assets• All but four of the top 100 corporations are registered with the Australian Taxation Office as deductible gift recipients and/or income tax-exempt charities• Incorporation under federal law is compulsory only for native title bodies corporate, royalty associations in the Northern Territory and some remote NT stores. Other Aboriginal corporations can report to state departments and may not have to release annual reports

    1. Purge rocks indigenous tourism resort

      THE management of Australia's premier indigenous tourism resort - a showcase for Aboriginal job creation - has been thrown into turmoil by a boardroom purge that sparked the managing director's resignation and a bitter row over the company's profitability.

      The head of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, Koos Klein, who has been running a $400 million suite of indigenous tourism assets on behalf of the owners, the Indigenous Land Corporation, resigned yesterday, saying he could not continue after the removal of half of the Voyages board on Wednesday.

      The five-complex Ayers Rock Resort, in the shadow of Uluru, had just one indigenous staff member when it was bought by the ILC in 2010. It has since been transformed into a showcase for indigenous employment, with 221 Aboriginal staff on its books.

      Voyages also runs the ILC's Home Valley Resort in the East Kimberley, which gained international prominence after Baz Luhrmann filmed the Nicole Kidman movie Australia on the 615,000ha station in 2008, and the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre in far north Queensland.

      The chairwoman of the ILC, Dawn Casey, who was appointed in late 2011, this week enforced sweeping changes to the high-powered board, with the exit of Investec Bank chairman Richard Longes; international property executive Peter Barge; former Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon; and former chief executive of Indigenous Business Australia Ronald Morony.

      Dr Casey told The Australian yesterday she had corporate-governance concerns about the purchase of the Ayers Rock Resort and said it was time to "refresh" the Voyages board, although many of the directors had no involvement in the ILC's 2010 decision to buy the resort.

      In a press release announcing the changes, Dr Casey linked the board changes to "a significant write-down of $62m, or 20 per cent, in the value of the Ayer's Rock Resort".

      She said yesterday that the resort would not make a profit, but this was disputed by the government and the outgoing Voyages chairman David Baffsky.

      Dr Casey told The Australian she was concerned about the ILC's $317m acquisition of the Ayers Rock Resort in 2010 because of the $198m in debt the federal government body incurred.

      She said former Labor finance minister Penny Wong and former indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin had also expressed concerns.

      "We were concerned in terms of what we perceived was a high purchase price and the significant loans the ILC's previous board had taken out," Dr Casey said. "People around the country asked: 'Why did they acquire that resort?'

      "We were majorly concerned about the amount of the loan that the ILC would have to service."

      But Mr Baffsky, a prominent Sydney businessman, said the removal of the board was "bizarre, perplexing, and sad". "It's really quite extraordinary in terms of the potential threat and risks it creates," he said. Mr Baffsky, whose tenure automatically ceased last Saturday, told The Australian: "Dressing up the board sacking by saying the Ayers Rock facility is not profitable is absolutely not true."

      In a resignation email obtained by The Australian, Mr Klein told Dr Casey he could not continue after four members of the board were removed. "As discussed with each of you, I needed time to consider my position after the events of the last 24 hours," he wrote.

      "I have now done so and although I appreciate your request to continue in my present position, I have decided to resign.

      "I have invested a lot of myself in this project and would appreciate the opportunity for a proper and professional handover in the interest of the company, the staff, and especially the close to 300 indigenous people who have found professional training opportunities and meaningful jobs with Voyages," Mr Klein wrote.

    2. Purge rocks indigenous tourism resort


      Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said he was "concerned" at the sacking of the board at a time when the resort needed stability. He said the ILC businesses, including the Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara near Uluru and the Home Valley Resort in the East Kimberley, were making a profit and the ILC had misrepresented the reality in blaming a $62m writedown in the value of the Ayers Rock Resort on its decision to remove the board. In 2012-13, the businesses made $14.2m profit. A profit of $14.4m is projected for 2013-14.

      Dr Casey denied the budget projections, saying the Ayers Rock Resort would not turn a profit this year. "Our budget for the coming financial year shows a deficit of $1.2m in 2013-14 that includes the ($9m) loan repayment," she said. "It's early days - we are still reviewing our figures."

      Although the Ayers Rock Resort's book value has plummetted to $250m, tourism industry figures said it was not uncommon to writedown tourism assets, given the sluggish international tourism arrivals from the US and Europe, coupled with the gyrations of the Australian dollar.

      Mr Baffsky said the Ayers Rock Resort writedown was a "reflection of the downturn in tourism in the Northern Territory".

      "It's a reflection of the reality of the market. It does not mean the place is not profitable," he said. "The place is buzzing, it's got a phenomenal response from tour operators. We built a terrific conference centre and more important is the indigenous training and employment and the interaction between the three local communities and the guests.

      "There are now programs to educate people about indigenous food and dance."

      Mr Baffsky said the management team had been destabilised by the board ructions. "They don't understand why. People from the resort and people who do business with the resort are ringing me worrying about the future. I have received a number of calls today."

      He said under the previous owners, Ayers Rock Resort was regarded as "dysfunctional . . . What has happened (this week) is perplexing and very sad."

      Dr Casey said since her appointment in 2011, she had instigated a Deloitte report into the acquisition of Ayers Rock Resort and appointed McGrath Nicol to review the purchase.

      She said $3m in consultancy fees paid to Grant Samuel for undertaking the due diligence was a concern given the due diligence work had not been let out to tender to other parties. "We are not criticising Grant Samuel (but) we were concerned about the procurement process," she said.

      "The other issue was the payment structure for Grant Samuel; they were to receive a percentage of the sale of Ayers Rock, yet the ILC were the purchasers.

      "Voyages management team have done an astounding job (but) it's whether or not it's cost-effective. With the cost of the writedown, it's (costing) around $150,000 per Aboriginal position at the Ayers Rock Resort."

      Dr Casey claimed the previous ILC board had been told of the significant downturn in tourism in 2010 when they made the decision to buy the resort. "It was never going to bring the returns."

      Grant Samuel chairman Ross Grant, believed to have been involved in the Ayers Rock Resort transaction, declined to comment last night.

      Additional reporting: Ben Wilmot

  10. Australia link to '70s atrocities

    Research into one of the most violent episodes in the history of West Papua claims that helicopters provided to Indonesia by the Australian government were used in military operations in the 1970s that amounted to genocide.

    According to a report by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, two Iroquois helicopters supplied by Australia were among aircraft used by the regional military command in West Papua in operations in the Central Highlands in 1977 and 1978 that killed thousands of civilians.

    The AHRC report, The Neglected Genocide: Human rights abuses against Papuans in the Central Highlands, 1977-1978, details mass killings by aerial strafing and bombings - using both napalm and cluster bombs - in and around the Baliem Valley, where support for the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) was strong and tensions had escalated going into national elections in 1977.

    In one incident described in the research, villagers were bombed with napalm from US-supplied OV-10 Bronco attack aircraft as they waited for planes they had been told would deliver aid from Australia.

    RAAF pilots had been sent to West Papua for a six-week mapping exercise in 1977 as a form of military assistance to Indonesia and were flying Iroquois helicopters.

    One of them crashed in July 1977, according to The Sydney Morning Herald of that year, reportedly due to weather conditions.

    An Australian army Pilatus Porter plane was shot at over West Papua by unknown assailants in August 1977.

    The latest report, which has been three years in development, collected interviews from survivors of the military operations in 15 affected communities and used the accounts, together with historical records, to compile names of 4146 identified victims of killings.

    In addition to aerial bombardment and indiscriminate shootings, the report describes a range of "unspeakable atrocities" inflicted on indigenous Papuans by Indonesian soldiers in the Central Highlands operations. Villagers were sliced with razors, forced to eat soldiers' faeces, thrown into wells, drowned, buried, burnt and boiled alive, according to the report.

    The Indonesian government has never recognised that mass killings and atrocities took place in the Central Highlands military operations and has denied ever using napalm or cluster bombs in Papua.

    Basil Fernando, director of policy and programs at the Asian Human Rights Centre, said thousands of people in West Papua remember the events described in the report and information about them was easy to obtain. "What is most shocking is that for all these years there has hardly been any investigation into this large number of killings, and the basic political issues remain unresolved," Mr Fernando said.

    The report's authors state their research is "consistent with estimates" of a death toll from the 1977-78 operations numbering at between 5000 and "tens of thousands". They argue that "the pattern of mass violence" constituted genocide.

    The Asian Human Rights Commission is calling for an apology, legal redress and a process of dialogue from the Indonesian government as essential to achieving justice and reconciliation.

    A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the department did not have "any information to hand" about allegations that Australian aircraft were used in the operations.

    1. West Papuans live in terror, Mr Abbott

      Tony Abbott has never experienced the brutal oppression that West Papuans are forced to live under - and his misguided comments will endanger lives, writes the imprisoned Papuan leader

      “People seeking to grandstand against Indonesia, please, don't look to do it in Australia, you are not welcome ... The situation in West Papua is getting better, not worse.” These are the words of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on 7 October.

      Tony Abbott is wrong, and his words are extremely hurtful to the people of Papua. The situation for the Indigenous population of Papua is getting progressively worse, not better. Even Lukas Enembe, the governor of Papua, has stated that the province is experiencing a decline in key areas such as health, education and the economy.

      Enembe also acknoweldges the well known fact that Papuans are an increasing minority in their own land.

      Space for even some minimal semblance of democracy in Papua has been absolutely closed and the state of Indonesia continues to commit atrocities against the Indigenous people. For instance, Alpius Mote, aged 17 years, was shot dead by the Indonesian Special Police Unit BRIMOB on 23 September in Waghete, West Papua, after a number of locals voiced their objections to the arbitrary arrest and targeting of males with long beards and hair.

      Then there are the brutal military operations that have been continuing relentlessly for months in Puncak Jaya and also in Paniai to pursue those suspected of being part of the TPN/OPM. These operations have only led to the deaths of innocent civilians, such as 12-year-old Arlince Tabuni, who was shot dead on 1 July in the village of Popumo, Lani Jaya.

      Lately there has also been an escalation in the level of intimidation and terrorisation of Indigenous people, and even more so of Papuan activists.

      The bodies of seven more civilians were recently found — including a four-year-old and 11-year-old child — after their vehicle left Sarmi for the city of Sentani near Jayapura but never arrived. All seven bodies were found in their upturned vehicle. It is believed they had been abducted and it was reported that they were killed by what has become a common term now in Papua, "unknown assailants".

      In order to hide the tyranny in Papua, the Republic of Indonesia has denied access to both international journalists and international human rights workers. Ever since Indonesia annexed Papua on 1 May 1963, it has been isolated and closed to these international groups. Indigenous Papuans, forced to live in this state of terror, are also isolated from the reach of the outside world. The violence and upheaval in their lives makes life in Indonesia for Papuans a living hell.

      The Australian Prime Minister has never experienced the brutal oppression that Indigenous Papuans are forced to live under; nor has he seen first hand the real-life conditions that Indigenous Papuans suffer.

      There have been constant reports of brutality and severe oppression for 50 years from Papua — would it not be right for Australia, the current Chair of the United Nations Security Council, together with its other members, to organise for a UN Special Representative to carry out an investigation into the alleged human rights violations and the political status of West Papua?

      The Prime Minister of Vanuatu formally requested a UN investigation as part of his historic speech at the recent 68th session of the annual debate of the UN General Assembly in New York on 28 September.

      The people of Papua can only assume that Tony Abbott’s words, “The situation in West Papua is getting better, not worse”, are the result of the influence of propaganda and provocation by the Indonesian government during his visit to Jakarta on 30 September and to Bali for attend the APEC summit in early October.

    2. West Papuans live in terror, Mr Abbott


      Of late, Indonesia has lifted its level of propaganda towards the international community and in particular key leaders around the world — of which the Australian Prime Minister is one — in their efforts to undermine any possibility of sympathy towards the problems of Papua. To achieve that end Indonesia has employed no small amount of resources and staff.

      Of course Papuans totally appreciate the importance of the relationship between the governments of Australia and Indonesia. Furthermore, Papuans truly understand that Tony Abbott's attitude towards Papua must be one of caution, in order to protect bilateral relations.

      However, as a member of the UN, and chair of the Security Council, Australia has both a legal and moral obligation to uphold and respect human rights around the world and particularly in those regions of serious concern, such as Papua. Australia cannot avoid its responsibilities to protect and respect the dignity of humanity where freedoms and the very right to life are threatened. Indigenous Papuans are heading towards the annihilation of their race due to a slow genocide.

      The Australian government has been on the frontline recently in regards to the matter of Papua. On 24 September, seven Indigenous Papuans who landed as refugees at Boigu Island in the Torres Strait (including one woman who was pregnant and a 10 year-old-child) were transferred to Horn Island. After being interviewed by authorities they were given no choice of staying in Australia and were forced to choose between being sent back to Indonesia or going to PNG. They very swiftly deported to PNG.

      Then, on 5 October, three young Papuan men scaled the wall of the Australian Consulate in Bali and entered the compound so as to seek Australia’s help. They then also sought refuge for themselves, despite the risk they would face from Indonesia if they were denied. In the early hours of that same morning before 7am, the three had already been told to leave the compound with the threat that the police would be called.

      In being forced to leave the compound after pleading for help for Papua, of course they were terrified for their safety! Their actions could have led to torture or to a "disappearance" at the hands of the Indonesian armed forces. The Australian Senator Richard Di Natale immediately called on the Australian Government to request they be given protection but received no response. The nation of Papua finds the actions of the Australian Consulate in Bali absolutely unacceptable.

      Abbott subsequently stated that the Australian government will suppress any activism in Australia that opposes Indonesia in support of West Papua. He was immediately criticised by Vanuatu’s first and former prime minister, Ati George Sokomanu, who demanded he explain his statement to the leaders of the Pacific. Sokomanu stressed that while immigration issues could be dealt with by the courts, Australia must be prepared to discuss questions of human rights.

      The Australian and international communities who are concerned about the suffering of Indigenous Papuans are closely following the political direction of Abbott's cabinet.

      Will Australia continue to permit Indonesia's armed forces to commit heinous acts against the Indigenous people of Papua?

      This piece was originally published by New Matilda

  11. In North Dakota, New Concerns Over Mixing Oil and Wheat

    ROSS, N.D. — While three generations of the Sorenson family have made their livelihood growing wheat and other crops here, they also have learned to embrace the furious pace of North Dakota’s oil exploration. After all, oil money helped the Sorensons acquire the land and continue to farm it.

    But more oil means more drilling, resulting in tons of waste that is putting cropland at risk and raising doubt among farmers that these two cash crops can continue to coexist.

    A private company is trying to install a landfill to dispose of solid drilling waste on a golden 160-acre wheat field across the road from Mike and Kim Sorenson’s farmhouse. Although the engineers and regulators behind the project insist that it is safe for the environment, the Sorensons have voiced concern that salt from the drilling waste could seep onto their land, which would render the soil infertile and could contaminate their water, causing their property value to drop.

    “I’m concerned not if it leaks, it’s when it’s going to leak over there,” Ms. Sorenson, 42, said.

    Oil companies in North Dakota disposed of more than a million tons of drilling waste last year, 15 times the amount in 2006, according to Steven J. Tillotson, the assistant director of the Division of Waste Management for the state’s Health Department. Seven drilling waste landfills operate in the state, with 16 more under construction or seeking state approval.

    Landowners who lease their acreage see a reward, while neighboring farmers often protest the potential harm to their pastures. Farmers here complain that state officials promote policies that help the energy sector grow rapidly with little regard for the effect on their livelihoods.

    “I don’t think they’re very concerned about the farmer," Mr. Sorenson, 41, said.

    His 36-year-old brother, Charlie, who farms with him, added, “There’s just more effort put on where the bacon’s coming from, I guess.”

    Few would argue against the benefits of the energy industry, which has made North Dakota the second-largest oil producing state in the country and helped it build a surplus of more than $1.6 billion.

    “I wouldn’t say that production agriculture is being forgotten because everyone understands that it always has been and always will be the backbone of the economy of North Dakota,” said Dave Hynek, one of five commissioners in Mountrail County, where the landfill is being proposed. “However, the tremendous amount of money coming into the state coffers from the oil industry at the present time has overshadowed that.”

    Without the oil industry, Mr. Sorenson said, he might not even be farming.

    His grandfather worked in the oil fields in Montana in the 1940s to earn the money to buy the land where Mr. Sorenson and his family live. In the late 1990s, Mr. Sorenson worked in the North Dakota oil fields for five years to make enough money to farm full time.

    “I’ve worked in the oil industry,” Mr. Sorenson said. “That’s kind of how I got all my stuff.”

    The Sorensons receive royalties from oil that is produced on their land and from allowing drilling, which accounts for about 10 percent of their income, Mr. Sorenson said.

    “I’m fairly neutral on the drilling,” he said, though that did not lessen his concern over the possibility of a landfill across the street. “This most certainly affects me negatively.”

    Ms. Sorenson said she was more worried about the environmental risk of living next to a landfill, like runoff seeping into their well water, and what that could mean for their five children.

    “We’d love to see our grandkids and further generations be able to be a part of this land, also,” Ms. Sorenson said.

  12. In North Dakota, New Concerns Over Mixing Oil and Wheat


    The Sorensons, who have hired a lawyer, are especially sensitive to the landfill proposal because the property owner offering to lease the land for the project is a second cousin of Mike and Charlie Sorenson. The cousin, Roger Sorenson, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

    Most drilling waste, usually chunks of earth slathered in chemicals and petroleum, is disposed of at the drilling site. About a year and a half ago, the state passed a regulation requiring drilling companies to dry the waste before burying it on-site to address concerns about runoff and leakage. More companies have since turned to landfills to dispose of waste.

    Industry experts argue that landfills are built with better technology and safeguards to prevent environmental hazards than dumps at drilling sites. And it is safer to have a few central dumps that are monitored than a waste pit on each of the thousands of drilling sites throughout the Bakken shale field, said John McCain, the executive vice president and principal engineer at Carlson McCain, the engineering company designing the landfill proposed in Ross.

    “I think that landfills carry a negative connotation with them,” Mr. McCain said. “But that negative connotation comes from the old dumps, and the public hasn’t really been educated on new landfill technology.”

    Mr. McCain argued that the environmental concern over the proposed waste site in Ross is unwarranted because the soil and liners would protect against leakage.

    Those assurances ring hollow to environmental activists in the state, who say they have seen too many drilling-related spills, though not necessarily from landfills.

    “We’re not in any way, shape or form against oil,” said Don Morrison, the executive director of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental group. Later, he added, “The pace of development is the problem and the fact that there are laws on the books that are not being implemented to protect people’s water and land and livelihoods.”

    Over the past five years, Mr. Tillotson said, contamination from landfills has occurred only twice, and the companies responsible were fined.

    “Environmental releases, whether they are on a well site or off-site, or even at a landfill we regulate, is an issue that we take extremely seriously,” Mr. Tillotson said in an e-mail.

    For the landfill near the Sorensons to be built, the Mountrail County Commission must rezone the land from agricultural to industrial.

    Mr. Hynek said he was unsure whether he would support the landfill. He understood the environmental concerns, he said, but added that those needed to be balanced against the likelihood of a problem and the benefit of oil exploration.

    Mr. Hynek, who farms for a living, said he shared one major concern with his neighbors: the increasing conversion of farmland into drilling land.

    “This country has always been ag country as far as raising crops and livestock,” he said. “And once this mineral is depleted — and it will be some day — it will go back to being ag land, and I don’t believe it will ever be as productive as it originally was.”

  13. Australian Greens: Running Out of Time to Save Great Barrier Reef

    LNG World News

    The Coalition has today squibbed a chance to protect the Reef by ruling out further development on Gladstone’s Curtis Island, by deferring the approval decision on Arrow’s LNG plant to just days before Christmas, say the Australian Greens.

    “The Reef didn’t need another deferral from the government today – this threat of even further industralisation of the largest island within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area needed to be ruled out once and for all,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.

    “No amount of extra information will change the fact that Arrow’s plans involve one million tonnes of dredging, will impact the dugong feeding areas and precious turtle nesting sites on the southern tip of World Heritage Curtis Island, and will send more mega-ships through the Reef like it’s a highway.

    “Gladstone is already dealing with a sick harbour, a shattered fishing industry and dredge spoil being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef, it would be madness to allow more industrialisation.

    “The Minister’s acknowledgement that he needs more time to consider the project proves the danger of his promise to big business that even the most environmentally destructive projects should have final decisions made within exceedingly short timeframes.

    “I hope the Minister will now revisit this dangerous idea and lock in processes that mean big decisions are never made without adequate information about their impacts on our most precious species and places.

    “The Greens will continue to stand up to the big mining companies to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the communities who love and rely on it,” Senator Waters said.


    Australia: AMCS Urges Environment Minister to Reject Arrow LNG Plant

    The Australian Marine Conservation Society has called on Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to reject the proposed Arrow gas processing plant on Curtis Island – the largest island in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

    Felicity Wishart, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director, said this would be the fourth LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant on Curtis Island, with the three gas plants currently under construction approved by the previous Federal Labor government triggering UNESCO concerns.

    “This LNG plant will require substantial additional dredging – a further million cubic metres of dredging. That’s going to mean more suspended sediment in the water, more risks to turtles, dugongs and coral and more threats to tourism,” Wishart said.

    “It will also increase the number of massive LNG ships crisscrossing the Great Barrier Reef.

    “Curtis Island is within the Reef’s World Heritage Area yet its mangroves and beaches are being destroyed to build gas processing plants.

    “The three gas hubs already under construction are suffering from major cost overruns and there are questions about whether there is enough supply of gas to make all these processing plants viable.

    “The last thing that Queensland needs is a fourth gas plant that damages the Reef and fails to deliver economic benefits to the state.

    “This fourth gas hub is being proposed by Arrow Energy, which is 50 per cent owned by Royal Dutch Shell.

    “Shell has recently reasserted its commitment not to develop oil or gas resources in natural World Heritage Sites, yet they appear to be moving ahead with this development.

    “Turtles which nest on the southern beach of Curtis Island and dugongs which feed on the area’s seagrasses will be put at further risk from the development of this fourth massive gas plant and shipping terminal.

    “Putting all our eggs in the mining basket, as the Queensland and Australian governments seem determined to do, is short sighted in the extreme.

    “If we look after the Great Barrier Reef it will continue to support tens of thousands of tourism jobs and billions to our economy.

    “We urge Minister Hunt to protect the Reef’s World Heritage area and reject this fourth LNG proposal,” she said.

  14. Chevron Boss " big as the Gulf of Mexico."

    Chevron Buys Share in Exploration Blocks Off Australia

    Chevron Australia announced it has acquired exploration interest in two offshore blocks located in the Bight Basin, a deepwater frontier basin.

    Blocks S12-2 and S12-3, which span more than 32,000 square kilometres (eight million acres), are located approximately 443 kilometres (275 miles) west of Port Lincoln off the South Australian coast. Chevron Australia is the operator with a 100 percent interest.

    Melody Meyer, president Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production said, “The acquisition of blocks S12-2 and S12-3 demonstrates Chevron’s continued focus on pursuing high-impact exploration opportunities to expand its resource base and reinforces the importance of Australia to Chevron’s global growth strategy.”

    Chevron Australia Managing Director Roy Krzywosinski added, “We are extremely pleased to be awarded the S12-2 and S12-3 offshore blocks located in the Bight Basin. The Bight Basin is similar in size to the Gulf of Mexico and these two blocks contain significant exploration potential.”


    Slashing at the Environment Dept

    Thursday, 24 October 2013

    THE federal Department of the Environment will axe around 150 jobs as a result of budget pressures.

  15. Australia: QGC Inaugurates Water Treatment Plant

    Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney inaugurated QGC’s Kenya Water Treatment Plant in gas fields west of Brisbane.

    The plant, about 35km south-west of Chinchilla, purifies water that generally would otherwise not be available for crops or drinking because it is too salty.

    QGC is providing the water to about 20 landholders and the town of Chinchilla in south-western Queensland.

    The water, which is contained in coal seams, is produced with natural gas.

    Gas companies that extract the water are obliged to treat it for use in agriculture, industry and town supply.

    The plant, which involves an investment by QGC of more than A$1 billion in water infrastructure, can treat 92 megalitres a day, or the equivalent of that used by about 25 average-size irrigated vegetable farms*.

    It is the first of two such plants that form part of QGC’s Queensland Curtis LNG Project, which is scheduled to begin exports in 2014.

    BG Australia Chairman Catherine Tanna said the plant demonstrated QGC’s commitment to working with agriculture and local communities.

    “We are delighted to help shore up supplies for town consumption and to help landholders to grow crops that, in turn, support the Government’s aim to double food production by 2040,” Ms Tanna said.

    “This is a wonderful result for the gas industry, communities, agriculture and government – a demonstration of working together towards a common objective.”

    The plant was built by a consortium of GE Betz Pty Ltd and Laing O’Rourke Construction Pty Ltd, and involved about 250 people at peak construction.

    Laing O’Rourke built the plant and GE provided technical expertise and process equipment, including advanced ultra-filtration, ion exchange, reverse osmosis and brine concentration technology.

    About 25 people will operate the plant, one of two large QGC water treatment facilities in the Surat Basin that will be operated and maintained by Veolia Water Australia Pty Ltd as part of a 20-year, A$800 million contract.

    Associated infrastructure includes a 33-megawatt gas-fired power plant to run the reverse osmosis process, and ponds and pipelines related to the water treatment facilities.

    SunWater Limited built and operates a 20km pipeline that transports treated water from the plant to landholders and Chinchilla Weir.