Federal court dismisses gas hub appeal - Site to be desecrated

GO TO: The Gas Hub Trade Off

AAP Sydney Morning Herald April 29, 2011

The Federal Court has dismissed an application by Kimberley gas hub opponent Joseph Roe to appeal a court ruling appointing replacements for him as a native title claim applicant.

A court ruling on the matter in February cleared the way for traditional land claimants to resume negotiations over a $30 billion gas hub north of Broome.

That ruling by Justice John Gilmour replaced Mr Roe as a legal applicant on behalf of claimants and replaced him with other nominated applicants, in line with a native title claim group application to the court.

Mr Roe had sought to prevent the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) from representing native title claimants in negotiations over the proposed gas precinct to be built by a Woodside Petroleum-led consortium.

The Goolarabooloo man opposes the liquefied natural gas plant being built at James Price Point, citing it as an important sacred area and crossing point of songlines.

In the Federal Court in Perth on Friday, Justice Antony Siopis dismissed the application by Mr Roe to appeal against the February ruling.

He found against Mr Roe's contention that the replacement applicants would have a conflict of interest and be unable to fairly represent a combined Goolarabooloo/Jabirr Jabirr claim, of which he was a part.

The long-running legal dispute between Mr Roe and the KLC last year prompted WA Premier Colin Barnett to move to compulsorily acquire the James Price Point site, a move that angered native title claimants.

The KLC had signed a heads of agreement in April 2009 with Woodside and the WA government approving the gas hub and $1.5 billion in benefits to flow to indigenous communities over 30 years.

Talks between the parties have since sought to get an agreement by consent back on track and meetings in Perth this week aimed to resolve outstanding issues.

A meeting of Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr people in Broome next week is expected to formally vote on an agreement for the gas hub.

AAP April 29th 2011 - The Federal Court has dismissed an application by Kimberley gas hub opponent Joseph Roe to appeal a court ruling appointing replacements for him as a native title claim applicant.

A court ruling on the matter in February cleared the way for traditional land claimants to resume negotiations over a $30 billion gas hub north of Broome.

That ruling by Justice John Gilmour replaced Mr Roe as a legal applicant on behalf of claimants and replaced him with other nominated applicants, in line with a native title claim group application to the court.

Mr Roe had sought to prevent the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) from representing native title claimants in negotiations over the proposed gas precinct to be built by a Woodside Petroleum-led consortium.

The Goolarabooloo man opposes the liquefied natural gas plant being built at James Price Point, citing it as an important sacred area and crossing point of songlines.

In the Federal Court in Perth on Friday, Justice Antony Siopis dismissed the application by Mr Roe to appeal against the February ruling.

He found against Mr Roe's contention that the replacement applicants would have a conflict of interest and be unable to fairly represent a combined Goolarabooloo/Jabirr Jabirr claim, of which he was a part.

The long-running legal dispute between Mr Roe and the KLC last year prompted WA Premier Colin Barnett to move to compulsorily acquire the James Price Point site, a move that angered native title claimants.

The KLC had signed a heads of agreement in April 2009 with Woodside and the WA government approving the gas hub and $1.5 billion in benefits to flow to indigenous communities over 30 years.

Talks between the parties have since sought to get an agreement by consent back on track and meetings in Perth this week aimed to resolve outstanding issues.

A meeting of Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr people in Broome next week is expected to formally vote on an agreement for the gas hub.

Traditional owners green light Kimberley gas hub

ABC Fri May 6, 2011

Traditional owners in the Kimberley have reached agreement with Woodside and the government to build a gas hub at James Price Point, 60 kilometres north of Broome.

Native title claimants have voted in favour of a deal to build a contentious gas hub at James Price Point, 60 km north of the Kimberley town of Broome.

At a meeting in Broome this afternoon, the Jabirr-Jabirr Goolarabooloo people agreed to the deal which will see them receive over $1 billion worth of benefits during the life of the project.

The gas plant will be used to process the massive gas reserves off the Browse Basin.

The traditional owners voted 164 to 108 in favour of the plant.

Despite the yes vote, many of the group told the ABC they remained deeply concerned about the project but believe they had no option but to cooperate with the State Government's plans.

The State Government had threatened to compulsorily acquire the land if the group did not come to an agreement by the end of today.

Trade off

The community has spent the last four days in lockdown in Broome, being briefed on the details of the multi-billion dollar benefits package they are being offered.

The traditional owners will relinquish their native title interests in the 3,500 ha of land and water required for the precinct, in return for a benefits package.

The State Government says the more than $1.5 billion in benefits will include funds for building homes, establishing businesses and education initiatives as well as land for housing.

In a statement, the Premier Colin Barnett pledged the Kimberley will not become an industrial site for heavy industry.

He says the State Government's preference has always been to reach an agreement.

"I recognise there were strong differences within the group and reaching a decision has not been easy, however this is an important act of self determination that will generate real economic opportunities and real jobs for indigenous people over many years," he said.

The land will be under government control with sites leased to Woodside Energy and any future partners.

The government says when the land is no longer required it will return it to the traditional owners as freehold.

But for Kimberley MP Carol Martin the damage has been done either way.

"What I've noticed in this community in the past two years it is the growing divide," she said.

"When you see families torn apart by this process it's a really sad day."

Impossible position

The Save the Kimberley group, which opposes the gas plant being built at James Price Point, has condemned the result.

Founding director Kevin Blatchford says the Aboriginal people were put in an impossible position.

"It's no surprise and the whole process is basically flawed because of the threat of compulsory acquisition against indigenous people," he said.

"They were damned if they did and damned if they didn't.

"What did Barnett expect? I expect he got the result he expected."

The Shadow Minister for State Development Mark McGowan says he is pleased with the outcome but disappointed in the way Colin Barnett handled the issue.

"What I haven't welcomed is Mr Barnett's interference, interventionism, and intimidation of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley," he said.

"This outcome could have been reached two-and-a-half years ago, but for Mr Barnett's attempts to intimidate the people of that area."