WA Election: James Price Point
Against a sweeping Liberal victory in Western Australia, the uproar in the famous little pearling town of Broome will be felt in the halls of power in Perth and Canberra.
The votes are in, and the safe Labor seat of the Kimberley was returned to Labor only after Greens preferences were distributed. Most will not notice what happened in the Kimberley… and that’s the way the Majors like it!
This of course happens all the time in seats all over Australia when governments fail or when the constituency is ready for a change.
But a big thing happened in one of the world’s most isolated electorates yesterday, which will go unnoticed by all except the political few.
In a State swing of 8.5% to the Liberals –in what many see as a microcosm of the National macrocosm – you would expect it to be the Libs who nearly nudged the safe Kimberley Labour seat, but to everyone’s amazement, except the tiny little pearling and Aboriginal town of Broome, it was the Greens who nearly stole the show.
In what will definitely raise the attention of the 2 majors nationally, Broome and the Kimberley bucked the trend of the rest of WA. The Greens recorded an electoral vote of 25%, which more than doubled its vote from the previous election. This is monstered though by the numbers that flowed from Broome, the town that would be immediately affected by the world’s largest gas refinery at the controversial James Price Point site.
Chris Maher, the Greens candidate, collected 38% of the Broome vote, a staggering 100% proportional increase in voter support compared to the last election, with the next closest being the Liberal candidate, Jenny Bloom, who received 28%. The Liberal led State government are the proponent of the controversial James Price Point industrial precinct, and deputy Federal leader Julie Bishop was visibly shocked on election night as the votes flowed away from her. There was a landslide swing to the Liberals throughout the rest of WA. In addition to the substantial Greens vote, both Labor and National Party votes indicated at least a majority of the Kimberley electorate want the State to consider alternative options for processing offshore Browse Basin gas and rejected the Barnett Government’s proposed coastal gas hub at James Price Point.
What was said by those parties during the campaign is telling. Labor’s Josie Farrer took a more neutral stance when she said she would follow the Traditional Owners of that area (Labor’s leader, Mark McGowan, has publicly stated that he would not stand in the way of Browse gas being processed in alternative Pilbara). Michelle Pucci from the National Party had also stated publicly that she didn’t think that James Price Point was a good idea.
The Greens decisive vote follows quickly on the heels of a recent Broome Shire survey which showed that only 30% of the Broome population was for the James Price Point Project.
Whilst Labor will once again represent the vast Kimberley electorate in Australia’s North West, the reverberations of a strong vote against a major proposal from a strong community will be heard in the halls of power in Perth and Canberra.
What has been experienced in the Kimberley electorate — as a result of the impact of grass roots campaigning — will prick the ears of government and industry alike throughout the country, as coal seam gas and other campaigns build in intensity.
Mark Jones (East Coast): 0414 545 834
Peter Tucker (Broome): 0407 006 474