In May 2012, Woodside applied for a Section 18 notice with WA’s Registrar of Aboriginal Sites for permission to damage sacred burial sites in the dunes at Walmadany, also known as James Price Point. Last week the Registrar of Aboriginal Sites, a government body set up to defend and protect such sites, approved Woodside’s Section 18. Colin Barnett was on the record as saying the destruction was manageable.
To date, the extensive land clearing and work that has been done by Woodside has avoided these highly sensitive burial sites in the dunes. With growing pressure from financiers and joint venture partners to explore more economically competitive alternatives such as floating or piping the gas, the Broome Community had been hopeful that the final investment decision would be made without the need to damage these sites. This no longer appears likely.
With the impending WA state elections, rhetoric and chest beating over new projects and development is high on the agenda of the Premier and his affiliates. James Price Point represents a major future promise in the Liberals campaign. The recent visit by the leader of the National party and his subsequent talks with the community was a slap in the face to the 79% of Broome residents who do not want a gas plant on their coastline. Mr Grylls’ inability to comprehend the Broome Community’s collective discontent reached epic proportions and did much harm to his most accomplished Kimberley representative.
So with the government influenced section 18 approval, recent discoveries of more conflicts of interests within the National Native Title Tribunal, political threats and denial and the general long litany of discoloured decisions throughout the course of the last 4 years the people of Broome have reached boiling point.
The decision to now drill through the graves of the ancestors of the famous Lurujarri Trail and it’s songline will no doubt be the final tipping point for a large number of the Broome Community.
The Sunday Times, January 20:
The Australian, January 15: