Kimberly land grab faces mounting opposition

Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Opposition has grown to the Western Australian state government’s compulsory seizure of James Price Point, 60km north of Broome, for a $30 billion gas processing project in the Browse Basin. The Kimberly Land Council (KLC), the Greens and the Wilderness Society have all spoken out against the move.

Frank Parriman, the co-chair of the KLC Traditional Owners negotiating committee, accused Woodside, the company that plans to build the project, of orchestrating the takeover.

According to the September 9 West Australian, Parriman said: “I believe a lot of this stuff was orchestrated by Woodside — my anger is at Woodside, more than the Premier. They want this project and are prepared to do anything to get it.”

But Parriman didn’t let Premier Colin Barnett off the hook. He said Barnett “should have had enough courage to stand up to Woodside and say ‘you do the right thing by Aboriginal people and we’ll be right’”.

“Instead, he’s happy to knock down Aboriginal people and he knows he’s going to get public support, because it’s easy to knock the old Blackfella down.

“He’s prepared to take land from us — he’s not prepared to stand up to the company.”

Barnett has said the process of taking the land could take 18 months. If the traditional owners, Woodside and the government can’t produce an Indigenous Land Use Agreement, the matter will go to the Native Title Tribunal

The state government will need federal approval of the environmental and heritage impact assessments.

The Greens have said it will “make life difficult for Barnett”, in federal parliament, the September 6 West Australian reported.

“We don’t like it”, said Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. “We will be raising it federally in terms of … whether the government is giving it tacit support.”

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