No Gas campaign bags a win

April 12, 2013

The Broome community and environmentalists around Australia are celebrating an important victory. Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum said it would not go ahead with a gas hub at James Price Point in the Kimberley.

Long-time Broome resident Nik Weavers told Green Left Weekly: “We've got rid of the one big thing we set out to do, which was to stop the project, so I feel really excited about that.”

Weavers, a member of the Broome No Gas group, said: “I feel really warmed that so many other people have gathered [in Broome] and are feeling really good.”

For many Broome residents, this is the first campaign they have been involved in. After years of struggle, winning this big victory is inspiring.

It is a victory that has involved an incredible campaign across the country. Rallies with thousands of people have taken place in different cities. Hundreds lay on the red dirt of the Kimberley to physically stop Woodside destroying it.

It is a time to celebrate the positive result and rejoice in the success of broad community activism. But the issue is far from over.

Woodside CEO Peter Coleman said on April 12 that the project was not over. He said other options of how to process the gas were being considered by Woodside and its joint venture partners, such as Shell and PetroChina.

Alternative proposals being considered include having a floating liquid natural gas plant. This would still have many environmental issues. The impact of gas production on climate change won't change no matter where or how it is processed.

Weavers said the plan to build a port in the Kimberley is the big issue people need to start focusing on: “The state needs the port because they want to get uranium out, the coal out of the Fitzroy valley and then get the gas out of the Canning Basin.”

This has become more urgent since the federal environment minister approved the first uranium mine in Western Australia this month. The unconventional gas industry is also set to expand rapidly across the Kimberley region.

Amid the celebration outside Woodside's offices on the day of the announcement, a strong sentiment to continue to the campaign against industrialisation of the Kimberley and stop fracking was evident.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said that not developing a gas hub at James Price Point will cause loss of jobs and royalties for Aboriginal communities. However, there has been no proper analysis of how many jobs would exist after the plant was built, considering how many other jobs would be lost in areas like tourism.

Aboriginal communities should be given basic services like housing, health and training without the need for a mine on their land.

The mainstream media and politicians have said the decision to shelve the mine was an economic one. But the fact remains that a huge and prolonged campaign against gas has been built across the country and has started to win victories and inspire many people.

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