The Kimberley: The Right Thing or Ka-Ching?

Geoffrey Cousins and wife Darleen Bungey celebrate with the Broome community on Cable Beach in July, 2011. Photo copyright Kirsty Cockburn



Click on the link below to read Geoffrey Cousins’ well studied and in-depth perspective on the proposed James Price Point gas precinct.


Later in the week, Woodside chairman, Michael Chaney’s retort is covered in the Australian. Click on the link or read below:


Chaney lashes out at ‘anarchist’ Cousins



The Australian July 21, 2012 12:00AM


WOODSIDE Petroleum chairman Michael Chaney has lashed out at opponents of the planned $35 billion Browse liquefied natural gas plant in Western Australia’s Kimberley, labelling Telstra director Geoffrey Cousins and other activists as “anarchists” who did not respect the legal process.


In his strongest attack yet on the campaign to foil the project, Mr Chaney said Woodside and its Browse partners were following all the correct procedures and the development would be approved next year if it was viable and met all environmental requirements.


“The protesters are really a handful of people who I think are anarchistic in their approach — that is, they don’t accept the decision of the umpire and they go their own way and try to stop projects,” he told Sky Business last night.


Mr Chaney’s comments came in the same week that WA’s Environmental Protection Authority recommended state government approval of the project at James Price Point, near Broome, but described it as the most complex assessment in the agency’s 40-year history.


WA Premier Colin Barnett and federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson strongly back the project, which would create thousands of jobs and hand Kimberley indigenous people a $1.5bn package of benefits over 30 years in exchange for use of the land.


Mr Cousins, the most high-profile opponent of the Kimberley site, this week published a lengthy article on The Global Mail website, describing resource industry leaders who promised benefits to local Aborigines as “snake-oil salesmen”. He also accused Mr Chaney of jabbing him with a finger during a meeting and saying: “You are acting unethically.”


Mr Chaney yesterday declined to comment on those claims.


Mr Cousins, a former chief executive of advertising agency George Patterson, has been behind a strategy to pressure Woodside shareholders, joint-venture partners, financiers and customers to stay away from the Kimberley.


He is also trying to exploit a disagreement on the gas plant’s location between Woodside and its minority partners, which include Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BHP Billiton and BP.


Most of the partners favour piping the gas to the North West Shelf in the Pilbara when reserves run down later this decade, extending the life of the investment.


Mr Chaney has rejected claims the Browse project would destroy the Kimberley, saying it would cover a tiny area of a massive region. Asked if Woodside had made a final decision to use James Price Point, he said it still had alternative sites to process Browse gas.


“We’re spending $1.5bn on a feasibility study to determine those things and we’ll know over the course of the year what the answer is,” he said.

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