Martin Ferguson drops in to Broome
On Saturday, February 7th, Federal Minister for Tourism and Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, made a brief visit to Broome. Although he arrived on short notice, Ferguson was met by an enthusiastic group of concerned citizens (approx. 40 people) who wished to discuss the implications of building an industrial precinct for LNG processing a mere 60km from town, at Barnett’s announced site, Price’s Point. The minister refused a polite request to speak with the people later, but went ahead to pre-arranged meetings. The photo in the previous blog shows the group chanting, “Gas Free Kimberley,” “Hands Off Country” up to the minister’s second floor meetings in order to be heard in some way. The minister was later interviewed by WIN news and defended his stance that a massive industrial hub would in fact bring an increase to tourism in Broome; this is a viewpoint understandably scoffed at by locals who understand that tourists’ main reasons for visiting Broome and the Kimberley are the opportunity to enjoy pristine wilderness and coastal areas. Even Barnett scoffed at Ferguson’s notion on the same WIN television broadcast. Upon a request from STK, Ferguson agreed to meet with some representatives from concerned local groups. Peter Tucker, Pat Lowe, Louise Williams and Albert Wiggan attended this meeting. According to Tucker, Ferguson stated that if Price’s Point was not deemed suitable, then other Kimberley coast sites would be looked at until one was chosen. There is no indication of interest, on his behalf, in choosing a site which does not involve Kimberley coastline. Ferguson adamantly denied that the Kimberley would become the next Burrup, and he insisted that what is up for discussion is only a ‘small gas precinct’, as he referred to it. Reps found his knowledge of the Kimberley to be greatly lacking, and he was poorly equipped to answer questions that involved tourism. Ferguson did acknowledge, however, that Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, can still call upon the Heritage Act and the EPBC (Environmental Protection and Biodiversity) Act to overrule a precinct site decision.