The man known as the “Father of Reconciliation”, Pat Dodson, says a proposed gas precinct north of Broome that has split the local community, looks less and less likely to go ahead.
The Aboriginal leader was speaking in Perth last night before a forum on recognising indigenous Australians in the Constitution.
Mr Dodson described the recent bungling of the process to compulsorily acquire the land for the LNG hub at James Price Point as embarrassing for the State Government and the company, Woodside.
“When you deal with the law you’ve got to be exact and you’ve got to be precise and you’ve got to make sure the technicalities are covered and I think it was a pretty embarrassing thing for the state in a sense that they didn’t have their definition of the site clearly located or identified,” he said.
The Supreme Court ruled late last year that the State Government’s notices of compulsory acquisition for the site were invalid.
Since then, there have been been differing views on how much of a setback this is for the billion dollar deal with the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr native title claimants of the area.
The Government says it plans to reissue the acquisition notices as soon as possible.
But Mr Dodson, who is a former Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, says the process may be more complicated than it appears.
“The people who consented previously maybe some of those have changed their minds, I don’t know I’m not that close to the details,” he said.
“But I would have thought any reopening of the decision is going to be pretty difficult and fraught with some challenges.
The Aboriginal leader’s comments follow a request by Woodside to delay its final investment decision on the Browse project until mid 2013.
Mr Dodson is a Yawuru man from Broome and says he hopes there is a prevailing sense of the uniqueness of the Kimberley and the option of piping the gas elsewhere.
ABC News (online), March 8, 2012
Dodson on Resource Wealth Exploitation
The following excerpt is from Patrick Dodson’s Mahatma Ghandi Inaugural Oration, at the University of New South Wales, January 30, 2012. It is particularly applicable to Dodson’s home land of Broome with respect to the controversial processes surrounding the current proposed LNG processing precinct.
“Indigenous Australians have never been recognised as an equal people in our own lands. Australian courts have generally ruled that we are subject to the jurisdiction of the settler state. Our own customary laws, which have sustained our societies for millennia have been set aside and discarded as worthless.
“The wealth that the nation state of Australia enjoys comes from the exploitation of our land and waters. The price for this has been our dispossession and displacement, and our dependent relationship with the settler state.
“Australia is one of the wealthiest nations of the world, yet we seem incapable of lifting the vast majority of Indigenous people in this country to anywhere near parity on any social indicator with non Indigenous Australians.
“In the midst of the mining boom many Aboriginal people are finding immediate relief from the poverty besetting many of our communities by gaining employment in the mining industry.
“But I question whether in the long term our participation in unbridled exploitation is not in fact adding to the diminishment of our custodial responsibilities to humanity, global sustainability and resilience.”