Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett and Goolarabooloo Law Boss, Joseph Roe are at odds with each other. Premier Barnett is adamant that his Government will develop James Price Point while Mr Roe, and his family, are adamant that it will only “happen over our dead bodies.” Mr Roe said that Premier Barnett does not care about the rights of Aboriginal peoples, that he is bent on destroying the cultural heritage and recreational grounds of the Goolarabooloo peoples. Mr Roe has called once again for a Royal Commission into Premier Barnett’s conduct over his push to acquire and develop James Price, known as Walmadany to the Goolarabooloo.
“Whatever it takes,” is Premier Barnett’s position on developing James Price Point into a supply base and a gas processing hub. Mr Roe said, “We will stand in the way, these are our lands, our heritage, for all people to respect, and for us and our children to respect, our burial sites and our songlines.”
But last week the compulsory acquisition process that Premier Barnett launched nearly two years ago finally went through, and the Premier is now in possession of 3,414 hectares. The land will be managed by LandCorp and the Broome Port Authority.
The acquisition means that $30 million in benefits have to be delivered to the Aboriginal claimant groups, but because the Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirri have split from their once unilateral stance the Government has organised for the funds to be held in trust until a determination is made as to who should be considered the traditional owner group. But Warren Greatorax, chairperson of Waardi Ltd, the organisation holding the funds in trust said that “it may take years to determine who the funds go to.”
Premier Barnett said he did want the land for possible Browse Basin oil and gas supply bases that resource companies could develop. He is hopeful that companies will want to lease the land. “Then companies using that site will lease the land off the government, but the government will not be building infrastructure for the oil and gas industry.”
“The agreement, that has been put in place and backed up through Parliament, is that it not be an industrial site with chemical industries and the like, it is simply a gas processing and supply base.”
“A supply base is largely a marina. We are not talking about massive ocean vessels coming there. These are supply boats that might be 60 to 80 metres long.”
Premier Barnett said that Western Australia owns about 15 per cent of the oil in the Browse Basin, and the Commonwealth owns the rest. The Browse Basin is resource rich, as is the nearby Canning Basin, with some of the world’s largest reserves of high grade shale gas
“Some of the leases offshore are State rather than Commonwealth leases, and we are working towards getting some of that gas at least coming onshore.”
“I am very confident at some stage in the future you will see some of that gas coming onshore.”
Mr Roe said the Kimberley should be kept free from industry and its effects and that no processing of LNG onshore was appropriate.
“Premier Barnett thinks he is now the owner of our sacred sites and of our burial sites. But how he secured this acquisition is a matter for inquiry. Everyone knows he bullied and dictated and it is not just conspiracy talk, it was there for the whole of the nation to see.”
“There should be a Royal Commission. I have said all along that there should have been one, and I still say there should be a Royal Commission into Premier Barnett’s acquisition of our land, our heritage. The Australian people should not sit idly by and watch more of us steamrolled.”
“Furthermore, the acquisition does not mean he is allowed to build any industries. He needs to go through process and negotiations but that’s who he is, pushing what he wants while disregarding all of us as he did with threatening our peoples to sign or that he would take the land.”
“Is this the sort of Premier the Australian people want? Is this the sort of Government the Australian people want? Is this the sort of Australia people are proud of? Is this how non-Indigenous Australians want to see us treated?”
“We stood in his way with Walmadan Tent Embassy and torpedoed the gas hub, and we will stand again in the way.”
Mr Roe pointed out that the gas hub was approved by a one person Environmental Protection Authority because the other four members had conflicts of interest, but even though it never went ahead the Gooloarbooloo through Elder Richard Hunter took the EPA to Court over the decision and won a recent ruling against the EPA approval. Mr Hunter recently won the Conservation Council of WA’s environmental award for outstanding contribution because of his dedication to preserving the pristine integrity of the Kimberley coastline.
Mr Roe said that any attempt to destroy Goolarabooloo Country and to dredge Walmadany for a port would meet with Walmadany Tent Embassy, Goolarabooloo Elders such as Richard Hunter, Philip and Joseph Roe, and with the huge swell of support from across the nation that saw numerous standoffs between protestors and police.
“We did not stop.”