Brown makes a stand against proposed 'biggest gas plant on the planet'
Bob Brown and a traditional owner, Joseph Roe, survey the area for a proposed LNG plant at James Price Point on the coast 60 kilometres north of Broome.Photo: Glenn Campbell
THE campaign against a $30 billion gas project on the Kimberley coast in the far north of Western Australia went up a significant notch yesterday when Senator Bob Brown ''planted his feet on the ground'' of James Price Point and vowed to fight the huge development.
Asked if the new-found political heft of the conservation movement, courtesy of propping up Julia Gillard's minority Labor government, was sufficient to have the project blocked, the Greens leader replied: ''I wouldn't be here if I thought this was a fait accompli.
''My starting position is that this area - James Price Point and the Kimberley - is an international wonderland; globally, a big natural and indigenous heritage area.''
Visiting the iconic, raw-beef red escarpment 60 kilometres north of Broome at the invitation of dissident traditional landowners, Senator Brown said: ''The agenda is money and the question is this - will anywhere be out of bounds, or is all of Australia to be a quarry?''
Woodside Energy, on behalf of joint-venturers Shell, BP, Chevron and BHP Billiton, has the backing of the West Australian government. As a combined force they seemed poised to take advantage of divisions in the Aboriginal community to push ahead with the plant, which is to process natural-gas from the Browse Basin, in the ocean 400 kilometres off Broome.
But a September decision by the West Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, to compulsorily acquire the 2500 hectare site seemingly has created a common enemy for all sides in the conflict.
Senator Brown appealed for a genuine national debate on the location of ''possibly the biggest gas plant on the planet''.
''It can go elsewhere, this country can't,'' he said. Accusing Woodside of perverse conduct, Senator Brown said the company had spurned appeals from East Timor to locate a plant on the island, opting instead to process gas from its Greater Sunrise find in the Timor Sea at sea. ''But here, they say no, that the gas must come ashore,'' he said.
Senator Brown accused the energy quintet of attempting to override natural, environmental and Aboriginal law.
Turning his sights on Mr Barnett, he said: ''If it is big and megabucks and it doesn't take much to think about developers who want to sideline indigenous people and the natural environment, then this Premier is going to support it.''