Kimberley LNG hub talks hit snag as Aboriginals walk out

Negotiations over the State Government’s plans for a liquefied natural gas processing hub to be built at James Price Point in the Kimberley have hit an 11th-hour snag after Aboriginal representatives walked out of a meeting. The West Australian understands representatives of the site’s traditional owners abandoned the meeting last week after talks reached a stalemate. Negotiations will resume this week as the March 31 deadline for an agreement looms. Colin Barnett, who has said the Government would compulsorily acquire the land if an agreement could not be reached by the end of this month, would not comment but said there would be more discussions this week. A spokesman said the Premier was talking to the Federal Government about a contribution to a possible compensation package because the Commonwealth would be a major beneficiary of the project. The Kimberley Land Council, which has been negotiating for the traditional owners, also refused to comment, though a spokeswoman said there had been the normal “ups and downs” in negotiations. KLC executive director Wayne Bergmann previously expressed concerns about the March deadline, which was set by Mr Barnett when the Government announced just before Christmas that James Price Point was the preferred location for the gas hub. The choice of location has sparked opposition from Aboriginals, environmental groups, the Broome Shire Council, tourism groups and business in the region.Kimberley MP Carol Martin said she had been told representatives of traditional owners were unhappy. AMANDA BANKS – The West Australian