Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Gas Hub iT Matters

10 reasons why the LNG development should not go on the Kimberley coast

The Wilderness Society have a list of 10 reasons why there should be no development in the Kimberley of LNG projects.

1. The Kimberley’s coastal waters are a world class marine wonderland - with amazing coral reefs, sea grass meadows, sponge gardens and mangroves supporting the world’s largest population of humpback whales, as well as rare and threatened snubfin dolphins, sawfish, turtles, dugongs and a vast array of fish species – and so much more that has never been studied.

2. The value of an unspoiled Kimberley far outweighs the benefits of short term industrialisation - The Kimberley is one of the world’s last great wild places and has one of the least impacted coastlines in the world, comparable only to the Arctic and Antarctic. In the 1970’s Australia said ‘No’ to oil and gas mining on the Great Barrier Reef and went on to put in place one of the world’s largest marine parks. The park now contributes $6.9 billion dollars annually to the Australian economy from sustainable industries such as tourism. The Kimberley is equally significant and has the potential to be a similar international icon. Incredibly, none of the Kimberley’s coastal waters are protected in any form of marine park. There are currently over 500 Indigenous people working in the Kimberley tourism industry and 24 Indigenous-owned tourism operations. This is a major growth industry for Indigenous communities employing far more people than are ever likely to be employed in the LNG industry.

3. Serious and irreversible impacts - If this Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industrial precinct were to go ahead the environmental impacts would be far reaching and very damaging to the natural and cultural values of the Kimberley. For example, the project would require blasting and dredging of reefs and the clearing of significant pindan woodlands and sensitive vine thicket communities. This development would be the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ opening the door for other damaging industries such as strip mining for bauxite on the unique and fragile Mitchell Plateau.

4. Whales and other marine life will be threatened - by noise, pollution, dredging, blasting, port development and maintenance, greatly increased shipping traffic including LNG super-tankers and the risk of toxic spills or other accidents. These impacts will damage marine life over large areas and interrupt Humpback whale migration, calving and breeding patterns.

5. LNG development would cause ongoing air and marine pollution - and profoundly alter the world famous nature of the Kimberley. This is not a ‘clean’ industry: Gas industry pollutants deplete the environment’s ozone layer, contribute to global warming, and have a serious impact on health. The massive greenhouse gas emissions from this project would contribute to global warming and make meeting WA’s and Australia’s greenhouse gas reduction targets impossible.

6. Significant cultural impacts - the proposed LNG precinct would cut off a well documented Indigenous songline and heritage trail and the huge influx of construction workers will impact heavily on Broome and its surrounding coastal and marine environment.

7. Indigenous consent - In the face of threats of compulsory land acquisition repeatedly made by WA Premier Barnett (and described by the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) as “like negotiating with a gun to your head”), some Traditional Owners represented by the KLC have signed an ‘in principle agreement’ regarding the James Price Point site. While this agreement ensured that, “Traditional Owners will continue to be part of the process for deciding the development that takes place on their land”, recent public statements by some Traditional Owners make it clear they have not approved the project. Any final agreement is subject to numerous studies and further decisions, including: Detailed heritage assessments on the land around James Price Point carried out by the KLC and Traditional Owners; the outcomes of environmental assessments under WA and Commonwealth environment legislation; and the development and signing of an Indigenous land use agreement.

8. Economic benefits are not tied to location - The much touted economic benefits to Kimberley Indigenous communities can be achieved regardless of where the LNG development takes place – it only requires Commonwealth and State governments to commit to allocating a proportion of their royalty and other income from the Browse gasfield to those communities. The WA government’s ‘Royalties for Regions’ program is an example of how this could happen. The jobs and economic benefits would be the same for WA and Australia, regardless of the location of LNG processing.

9. There are other options - For example, Browse gas could be processed via less environmentally damaging floating LNG technology currently under development. Alternatively, processing gas at established industrial sites outside the Kimberley such as Port Hedland with its existing infrastructure such as ports, power, accommodation, roads and rail is likely to be less environmentally damaging and cheaper. The Port Hedland council has publicly stated it wants the development, while the Broome shire council has voted against it. Floating LNG is already the preferred option for the wholly controlled gas resource of at least one Browse Basin corporation – Shell.

10. Risks to corporations - Because of the many serious environmental issues and community concerns, the likelihood of protracted assessments and ultimately non-approval are high. Large scale opposition to this ill-considered proposal is growing in the Kimberley, around Australia and across the world. The costs to companies in terms of reputation and ‘social license to operate’ could be huge.

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