WA government signs off Broome gas hub

The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) has signed off on an in-principle agreement to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) precinct near Broome. In a ceremony at the James Price Point site, 60km north of the tourist centre, federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson joined West Australian Premier Colin Barnett, Woodside chief Don Voelte and KLC chief executive officer Wayne Bergmann for the signing of the heads of agreement. Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has said a number of important steps remain before the hub gains any final approval, and a full environmental impact assessment will not be completed until next year. Mr Barnett said the broad agreement marked the start of heritage, environmental and social impact studies within the James Price Point area. “Today was the first time that all parties stood on country together, providing an opportunity to look back at the hard work involved in achieving this agreement and to look toward the next phase of development,” he said. “The government will work with traditional owners through the KLC to identify the exact location of the precinct, develop an indigenous land use agreement and involve them in the design and construction of the precinct. “The agreement by the traditional owners is an historic moment for the Kimberley, for Western Australia and for Australia. “This is a significant step forward in terms of economic self determination and an improvement in the living standards of the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley. “It may also become part of a milestone along the way to reconciliation across Australia.” Mr Bergmann said the signing had been hosted by the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Native Title Claim Group, who voted on April 15 to enter into the heads of agreement. He said it put in place a process for the traditional owners to work with the state government and Woodside on developing the project. “Traditional owners will not give final approval for the project until essential cultural heritage and environmental studies are completed and provide satisfactory clearance of these issues,” he said. “Standing here today with the state government and Woodside shows us how far indigenous people have come in the 30 years since the Noonkanbah dispute (when) a multinational company and the state government ignored what little rights indigenous people had.” A Broome-based environment group, Environs Kimberley, said the environmental impact on threatened species meant the development would have to be scrapped, despite the signing of the agreement. “The massive blasting and dredging of millions of tonnes of reef and seagrass for a five-kilometre breakwater and industrial port would be an environmental disaster for marine life off the internationally significant Kimberley coast,” the group said in a statement. AAP – Sydney Morning Herald