A huge thanks to all of you who participated in our Catalyst for Change promotion.
Our first winner is ‘MW’ for her timely letter to Minister Burke, reprinted below. We have also reprinted a couple of other excellent entries (also with names changed to initials). We hope this will inspire more people to keep those letters flowing.
I and a broad section of the Australian Community are absolutely sickened by the events that are taking place at the James Price Point gas hub site in the Kimberley’s. I have attached two pictures taken on the 5th July 2011 of Australian Police knocking over an 80 year old man who was peacefully protesting at the James Price Point gas hub site (You can see he is being protected by his son), the other one is of the same man being dragged away by his arms. I ask you, how can you let this behaviour go on ??
The arrest of many Traditional Owners of the land, especially while conducting a peaceful protest is nothing short of a crime in itself. This land has belonged to them for generations. The conduct of all parties involved ( WA Premier Barnett, Woodside, BP, Shell, BHP, Chevron) has resulted in an agreement between Woodside & the native title group, Including the ‘gun to the head’ of compulsory acquisition removing the possibility of free prior and informed consent and irregularities in who was able to vote, the incorrect belief of many eligible native title claimants that they thought not attending was taken as a ‘no’ vote. This behavior is nothing short of criminal.
Like many, many people I love the Kimberley for it’s beautiful untouched lands full of native flora and fauna, some still unknown. This sometime harsh countryside is one of the last truly untouched area’s of Australia and as such should be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
The traditional aboriginal custodians of this land wish to prevent the clearing of land including the removal of historical artefact’s and the desecration of important cultural sites. To suggest that their peaceful protesting is in fact destroying this area, is absurd. They are protesting to stop such an event happening.
The Kimberley community has been joined by others from across the country and the world who are united in the belief that this gas hub will destroy and pollute this area. I am also very concerned about the irreparable damage this will cause to the pristine marine environment, particularly the habitat of the largest population of humpback whales in the world.
I feel we must all respect the land in which we live, while also honoring the aboriginal culture which, is deeply embedded in this nation. There are definitely viable alternatives to the processing of Browse gas on the Kimberley coast. I’m sure you are well aware of those alternatives, in particular processing the gas on a floating plant or piping to the Pilbara.
Please tell me, are you and your Government willing to be seen as a partner in the destruction of this area, that has been recommended for inclusion in the National Heritage Listing?
Please tell me what action you plan to take to ensure that the Kimberley, one of the world’s great natural areas, is protected? I look forward to your response. I truly hope you can reconsider your decision to be a party to the desecration of our beautiful land.
Reprinted letter #1
Dear Mr. Burke,
I am writing to you on the subject of James Price Point, this is a place that should be protected and not destroyed. There are alot of reasons why this place special, humpback whales give birth there, dinosaur footprints which must be protected, also the ancient rock art that can never be replaced once it’s gone and there are many endangered species that inhabit the region like the Bilby, the Australian flatback, Green and Hawksbill turtles Whale Sharks, the Northern River Shark, Dugongs the RARE Snubfin Dolphin, also unique coral that is found nowhere else in the world. Threatened as well are Remnant Rain forest Patches which new species of plants are still being discovered today and new species of frogs. The Kimberly Coast is clearly comparable to the Great Barrier Reef and MUST BE PROTECTED. Are you prepared to put all these species at risk of being lost forever? This is a place that makes me very proud to be Australian, and must be preserved for future generations. The Kimberly is more valuable untouched than as an industrial port and gas processing plant. I urge you as the environment minister to do the right thing for the environment and for all Australians it is YOUR duty to protect this pristine Coastal area because once it’s gone it can never be replaced so please DON’T LET AUSTRALIA DOWN!!! Environment Minister do your job that will benefit ALL AUSTRALIANS and not the Big Mining Companies.
Regards ‘B P,’ my children and my children’s children
I look forward to your reply
Reprinted letter #2
Being a Broome resident I am greatly concerned about the proposed gas hub and the further intended industrialization of the Kimberley region. Broome is culturally diverse and one of the rare places left that has not been overly industrialized; hence many people are attracted to live and visit this region.
I feel that the gas hub will change all of this – change that is very detrimental to all the beautiful and unique aspects of this region.
I will not go into all the scientific information there is about what this gas hub will do to the Kimberley – air pollution, heavier demands on water resources, negative interference to the Marine life, destruction of Aboriginal song/culture lines, extinction threats to land fauna and flora, damage to the tourist industry, and deep conflict within our usually unique culture of Broome, etc – as Im sure you have read all of this by now. All these issues are inter-connected and will be adversely affected by the gas hub.
The laws of the Australian government lead me to believe that you have the final say in whether the gas hub goes ahead or not. Up to now with what I have seen happen at James PricePoint, is that Woodside is dictating what happens. Even the Western Australian government is taking sides with them and permitting actions to be happening without correct legal documentation; concerning EPA laws and Aboriginal Heritage Acts. This seems so illegal to me and hope that you have been watching the events up this way and say No to the hub proposal.
I would like to know what you are planning to do to save this unique and amazing area from this gas hub and further industrialization of the Kimberley area; hence awaiting patiently and eagerly for your reply.
Ms ‘K E’
Reprinted letter #3
To the Honorable Tony Burke,
Mr. Burke I write to you in grave concerns for a part of our nation unlike any other on this Earth, The Kimberley region of Western Australia. We know more about the moon then the Kimberley. This area has an abundance of cultural, natural and historical values.
The areas in and around James price point for example are covered with Aboriginal sacred sites and meeting places dating back some 30-40,000 years along with dinosaur footprints that cover the coast entrenched in the sedimentary rock. The foot prints are believed to be around 130 million years old, with prints from 15 different types of dinosaurs. With these tracks being the entire fossil record of dinosaurs in Australia’s West half of the continent, apart from a small amount bone fragments. These tracks are some of the most important to Australia’s geological history.
The Biodiversity of the region is second to none, With endemic flora and fauna on the land with endangered and vulnerable animals such as the Erythrura gouldiae (Gouldian Finch) , The Rhinonicteris aurantius (Orange Leaf-nosed Bat), Isoodon auratus auratus (Golden Bandicoot) and many more threatened, Vulnerable and many yet to be studied. Any impacts on the Kimberley habitats of these creatures would have the potential to cause a decline in their numbers adding to Australia’s already high extinction rate and diminishing the Kimberleys biodiversity weakening its integrity to withstand impacts from both natural and Anthropogenic impacts including climate change.
The area is also part of the Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) annual migratory route,With as many as 20,000 whales passing through the area. The waters in and around James Price point are a calving ground for the Humpbacks that helps bring $31 million into the Australian economy through eco tourism. If the whale calving grounds are threatened by development and dredging the Humpbacks would surely be struck and killed by ship movements with disturbances to breeding and birthing patterns also at risk.
Development of the Kimberley would also have adverse effects on the tourism industry not only from dropping whale populations if this development goes ahead but by the tarnishing of the Kimberley’s “Wilderness” value that many thousands of tourists travel to see and experience every year. Many of these jobs are held by Indigenous peoples.
This area too is treasured by the Indigenous tribes of the area with some 30 tribes still calling the Kimberley home, creating sustainable jobs in eco-tourism, Art and Gubinge fruit harvesting. All sustainable and self-sufficient commerce.
Many tribes still use country for traditional ceremonies and festivals. With many sacred site in the Kimberley region including the Bradshaw Paintings, or gwion gwion, that are around 17,000 years old. With many other sites of interests such as middens and meeting places dating back some 20-40,000 years ago. This all part of the oldest living culture in the world, It makes the Pyramids of Egypt look like modern.
With all this in mind Mr. Burke I ask you to respect the finding of the Australian Heritage Council and protect the Kimberley from degrading forces such as mineral exploration and mining. And declare the 20 million hectare area (including the area of James Price Point) a Heritage site, while also making the offshore area a marine sanctuary allowing Humpback whales to continue on the migratory routes without disruption, while protecting all the marine wildlife in the area and allowing them to continue in there evolutionary path.
I look forward to your findings and actions regarding this issue.