Monday, July 30, 2012

Appeals committee appointed for Browse

Ministerial Media Statements

Bill Marmion
Minister for Environment; Water
Portfolio: Environment
  • Minister appoints Dr Roy Green to investigate Browse appeals
  • Former CSIRO chief executive to prepare report for the Minister
Environment Minister Bill Marmion has appointed Dr Roy Green to investigate more than 200 appeals received regarding the Environmental Protection Authority’s report on the Browse Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Precinct at James Price Point. 

Dr Green has considerable experience in government and the petroleum industry, including chairing an expert panel for quarantine management at the Gorgon LNG Project on Barrow Island Nature Reserve. 

“Dr Green is appointed as an appeals committee and will investigate all appeals received,” Mr Marmion said.

“He has previously been the chief executive of the CSIRO and deputy chairman of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), and as such, is considered to have an eminent standing to undertake the committee role.”

The process of investigating the appeals will include consultation with the EPA, appellants and the proponent.  Once the committee has completed its investigations, a report is presented to the Minister, who will determine the appeals having regard to the committee’s advice. 

Appeals against the EPA’s report closed on Monday July 30, 2012.  

      Fact File
  • EPA released its report on the Browse proposal on July 16
  • EPA recommended the proposal proceeded with strict conditions
Minister’s office - 6552 6800

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hundreds turn up for human whale on Cable Beach

Over 500 people (and several dogs) gathered on Broome's beautiful Cable Beach this morning to celebrate the arrival of the largest humpback whale population in the world.  In a marvellous show of community support, participants spelt out "Broome loves" whales, with three human whale shapes on the beach.

Download the photos here

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Human whale on Broome's Cable Beach

Join us on Sunday 29th July at 9.45am to make a Human whale on Broome's Cable Beach, for an aerial photo to celebrate our wonderful Humpback whale migration.  Western Australia is home to the world's largest population of Humpback whales, who migrate to the Kimberley's warm, tropical waters to mate and calve.

Photo available afterwards as a free download from

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sea Shepherd to take on Woodside

Andrew Darby

Hobart correspondent for Fairfax Media

July 17, 2012 - 10:09AM

Sea Shepherd conservationists are to mount an Australian mainland campaign for the first time, against the $35 billion Browse gas hub project.

The activists will this week set off in their flagship, Steve Irwin, to draw attention to potential impacts on humpback whales of the giant project near Broome, Western Australia.

In alliance with the former Greens leader, Bob Brown, and local Aboriginal people, the activists will steam from Melbourne to the Kimberley coast - the main breeding ground for the booming West Australian humpback population.

"I'll be helping to lead this trip to draw attention to the fact that this is not a good place for a giant gas factory, with huge ships coming to and fro," said Dr Brown, who has joined the Sea Shepherd advisory board.
Woodside and its partners will pipe gas ashore from the Browse Basin for processing and export at James Price Point, if one of Australia's largest energy projects gains final investment approval.

It includes dredging a 20-kilometre channel and building a two-kilometre jetty to access the liquefied natural gas from an onshore plant.

Impacts on marine fauna such as whales, dugongs and turtles were admitted when the West Australian government gave the environmental green light to the project yesterday.

The West Australian Environment Protection Authority's chairman, Paul Vogel, said the region's humpback stock had increased "exponentially" since last century's whaling, despite the parallel increase in iron ore and petroleum projects along the coast.

"Creating any industrial undertaking, particularly one of this magnitude, will have an environmental impact. However, these impacts and risks can be managed to an acceptable level," Dr Vogel said.

Conditions imposed by Dr Vogel include suspending marine pile driving and blasting for part of the humpback migration season. He made the approval decision alone after four other EPA board members declared conflicts of interest.

Until now Sea Shepherd has seen Australia mainly as a base for its hard-fought campaigns against Japanese whalers in the Antarctic.

A group of Aboriginal leaders of the Golarabooloo people told Sea Shepherd in a letter: "We have seen the work you have done to protect the whales in the Southern Ocean.

"We would appreciate any support you can give us to protect the humpback in our Sea Country from the proposal to build an industrial port at James Price Point for LNG export."

The activists' leader, Paul Watson, replied that the project was disrespectful to the area's original people and marine species.

"There are sacred places in this world that should not be scarred with the ugliness of greed and disrespect for nature," Mr Watson said.

He said he would not be able to join the ship for the vigil. He is being detained on bail in Germany while its courts consider an extradition request from Costa Rica over 10-year-old navigation charges. Papers outlining the case have arrived in Germany from Costa Rica, he said.

Sea Shepherd's Australian director, Jeff Hansen, said the Kimberley whale campaign would not be aggressive. "Australians need to see what's at stake there," Mr Hansen said.

Dr Brown said political leaders from Western Australia and Canberra would be invited to join the voyage. "We'll find room for them," he said.

Read more:

Mining 'not the panacea for indigenous jobs'

  • From:
  • The Australian 
  • July 17, 2012 12:00AM

  • INDIGENOUS leader and Gillard government adviser Peter Yu has warned that mining is not the "panacea" that will deliver remote and regional indigenous Australians economic independence and that a new focus must be placed on agriculture, carbon farming and environmental services businesses.
    Mr Yu, deputy chairman of the Indigenous Experts Forum set up by the Gillard government to investigate the economic potential of northern Australia, said indigenous communities needed intensive assistance to get them engaged in building businesses that could lift them out of poverty.
    At the end of 2010, federal ministers agreed to establish the IEF to provide robust advice on indigenous rights and interests in policy issues relevant to the sustainable economic development of northern Australia.
    "It shouldn't be that we think that the mining industry will be the panacea for all problems with Aboriginal employment, because obviously that isn't the case. It has to be that these kinds of jobs and policies have to take into consideration the Aboriginal perspective," Mr Yu told The Australian.
    "What is really encouraging is the ministerial forum will look at various scenarios -- whether it's reforming the cattle industry, or emerging carbon farming initiatives, or developing remote arts centres and a learning component around that, or biosecurity in the Top End."
    Mr Yu warned that the "conventional policy approach" had not delivered what was anticipated or expected. "Clearly, here is a need for a paradigm shift that has Aboriginal interests front and centre because the continuing lack of participation remains unacceptable . . . There is a need to identify ways of developing greater resilience and prosperity for communities and fundamentally for communities to become self-reliant."
    He said while the nation had its mind focused on mining-related work, there were opportunities with huge economic potential being left unexplored -- particularly in environmental services.
    There was "a significant opportunity for the traditional knowledge systems that Aboriginal people have, to marry that with the Western science and methodologies to be able to develop new services in this area".
    He said reform should include giving the corporate sector incentives to mentor Aboriginal business development and opportunities for employment and training.
    "The key problems that remain are costs, infrastructure and labour market skilling. What it needs is some creative thinking."

    Student nurse enjoyed cast of Kimberley’s characters

    Alicia Bridges
    Kimberley Echo

    The temperature was almost at freezing point at Mark Brereton’s Mt Gambier home when he was in the Kimberley last Saturday reflecting on a recent Ord River barramundi haul.

    The South Australian student nurse was the winner of a competition run by Australia’s North West Tourism as part of a campaign to showcase the Kimberley through its colourful people.

    Mr Brereton touched down in Kununurra last Thursday to embark on the first leg of his Characters of the Kimberley tour.

    The nine-day tour started with Greg “Hairy Dog” Harman at his Ultimate Adventures fishing camp about half way between Kununurra and Wyndham.

    Within 20 minutes of setting off in Hairy Dog’s “Dogstar” fishing boat, Mr Brereton had caught his first barramundi.

    “It was 73cm,” he said. “I’ll be telling all my mates it was 90cm.

    “It’s bloody awesome and I can see why Hairy Dog was picked as a character because he is a character … he’s charismatic and he calls a spade a spade.”

    When he left Hairy Dog’s camp on Saturday morning, Mr Brereton was on his way to the next spectacular spot at El Questro Wilderness Park.

    Guided by park ranger Larissa White, his schedule there included a dip in the hot Zebedee Springs, lunch at the station and a walk to Emma Gorge.Mr Brereton also travelled to Cygnet Bay Pearls near Broome and the Mowanjum Festival at Derby.

    James Price Point LNG precinct recommended for approval

    Summary: The Browse Liquefied Natural Gas precinct at James Price Point has been recommended for strict conditional approval, Environmental Protection Authority Chairman Paul Vogel announced today.
    Release Date: 16 July 2012
    Dr Vogel said the assessment of the Minister for State Development’s strategic proposal was the largest and most multi-faceted ever conducted in the EPA’s 40 year history.
    “The level of complexity in assessing this proposal was unprecedented,” Dr Vogel said.
    “The assessment has been incredibly thorough and included wide consultation with community members and scientific experts, site visits and meetings with interest groups.
    “After carefully considering each environmental factor, I have recommended a rigorous set of 29 conditions and offsets to ensure the EPA’s environmental objectives are met.”
    Dr Vogel said the precinct, which will produce up to 50 million tonnes of LNG per year from the Browse basin at a site 60 km north of Broome, provides for multiple users to be co-located on a single site, avoiding a number of LNG processing sites to spread along the coast and in more sensitive parts of the Kimberley.
    It has also allowed the consideration of the cumulative environmental impacts of future projects, known as derived proposals.
    “The numerous conditions recommended will guide the ultimate development plan, as well as apply to specific, future LNG projects within the precinct,” Dr Vogel said.
    “Future proposals will still need to be carefully scrutinised by the EPA to ensure that they were identified in the strategic proposal and fit within the strictly defined precinct footprint.”Dr Vogel said assessing James Price Point as the preferred location for the precinct had been a well thought out process.
    In 2008, the Northern Development Taskforce (NDT) short-listed four potential sites from more than 40 suggested locations for a multi-user LNG precinct.
    Of the four sites considered, the EPA recommended that environmental risks and impacts at James Price Point were likely to be manageable based on the available data.
    “Creating any industrial undertaking, particularly one of this magnitude, will have an environmental impact, however these impacts and risks can be managed to an acceptable level,” Dr Vogel said.
    The environmental impact assessment of James Price Point considered the impact on the following factors:
    Marine Fauna: Dr Vogel said the population of Humpback Whales off the west coast had continued to increase exponentially since commercial whaling ceased in the 1960s, despite the significant increase in iron ore and petroleum industries over the same period.
    He said turbidity from dredging, oil spills, industrial discharges, noise, light and vessel strikes had the potential to adversely impact individual whales, dolphins, turtles, dugong and fish in the area.
    “Provided the strict conditions recommended are implemented, impacts to marine fauna will be managed and are unlikely to be significant at the species population level,” Dr Vogel said.
    Conditions include:
    • suspending marine pile driving and blasting at night during the peak southern migration of mother and calf Humpback Whale pods;
    • more research into the distribution and habitats of dugong, turtles, Snubfin and Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins to assist in long term management and conservation;
    • detecting and controlling marine pests.
    Seabed Habitats: Dr Vogel said dredging of 34 million cubic metres of the seabed had the potential to affect habitats that support algae, seagrass, corals and filter feeders in the area.
    Proponents should be able to design and build a port in an area that is unlikely to compromise the overall ecological functioning of the marine environment provided strict conditions were applied, he said.
    Conditions include:
    • all dredged channels and wharves must be wholly contained within the precinct area;
    • permanent impacts must not extend beyond 500 metres of dredged areas;
    • proponents of future proposals will be required to use best practice in dredging and management to minimise impacts;
    • proponents of derived proposals should put forward offset measures to address impacts and risks;
    • surveying the marine environment before, during and after marine works to determine baseline conditions, impacts and recovery.
    Marine Environmental Quality: Dr Vogel said a high level of ecological protection was necessary to ensure emissions to the marine environment did not significantly affect ecosystem health, recreation, aesthetics, fishing, aquaculture and cultural and spiritual values.
    He said the proponent had also committed to preparing a comprehensive oil spill response plan.
    Conditions include:
    • appropriately locating wastewater discharge outlets within a tightly specified area inside the port;
    • implementation of a Wastewater Discharge Monitoring and Management Plan.
    Terrestrial Biota: Monsoon Vine Thicket vegetation has a high conservation value and is also important to traditional owners as a significant source of customary foods and other resources, Dr Vogel said.
    Conditions include:
    • losses of all types of Monsoon Vine Thicket should be limited to 132 ha due to direct and indirect impacts;
    • all practical measures should be taken to limit impacts to specially protected species before clearing occurs and once infrastructure is located;
    • additional reserves should be created to secure conservation of Monsoon Vine Thicket and Greater Bilby habitats;
    • proponents of derived proposals put forward offset measures, including contributing to conservation initiatives.
    Landscape Processes: Dr Vogel recommended that pipelines should be installed by micro-tunneling techniques and that coastal management and terrestrial erosion management programs are implemented to limit the impacts on coastal erosion.
    Surface and Groundwater: Future proponents must demonstrate that any excavation can be undertaken without unacceptable impacts on Monsoon Vine Thicket vegetation.
    Heritage: Dr Vogel said Aboriginal heritage matters were particularly important in this area and noted that they had been extensively addressed in agreements reached between Traditional Owners and the State Government.
    “Indigenous interests have been properly heard and considered in this assessment,” he said.
    Dr Vogel said he had also considered the heritage value of fossilised dinosaur track sites that occur in Broome Sandstone in the region.
    Surveys, with input from Traditional Owners, local people and independent expert advisors, were conducted by international experts and independently peer reviewed.
    Based on these findings, it is recommended that the precinct should not cross the shore within 900 metres of James Price Point to avoid fossil dinosaur footprints.
    The EPA also recommended additional surveys occur in any areas where Broome Sandstone exists at the surface and is planned to be disturbed for this proposal.
    “If fossils are found, disturbance should be avoided wherever possible,” Dr Vogel said.
    “Where disturbance cannot reasonably be avoided, appropriate recovery work to salvage or properly document fossils prior to disturbance should be undertaken under the guidance of an expert and with the advice and participation of Traditional Owners.”
    Air emissions: The report recommends gasses, dust, noise and light emissions are managed at best practice levels, ensuring they do not pose a threat to human health.
    Greenhouse gases: Future proponents should implement best practice in design and operation to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.
    Developers will also need to comply with new Commonwealth carbon tax regulations which came into effect on July 1, 2012.
    It is also recommended a co-operative fire management strategy with Traditional Owners is established to limit late season fires, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning and help offset emissions from the proposal.
    Dr Vogel said the EPA report 1444 to the Minister for Environment would now be subject to a two week public appeal period closing on July 30, 2012. The Minister for Environment will decide if the proposal can be implemented. Commonwealth approval is also required.
    Media Contact: Nadia Miraudo 0400 866 450

    Status: Final
    Appeals close

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Plane crashes on Cable Beach in front of concert-goers

    David Prestipino

    Perth Now

    THE BODY of a pilot has been found in the wreckage of a plane that crashed near Broome's iconic Cable Beach last night.
    The twin engine freight plane crashed as 250 people were gathered at Cable Beach Amphitheatre to see violinist Richard Tognetti and members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, about 8pm local time.
    Only one person, the pilot, is believed to have been aboard.
    Initial reports suggested the plane had crashed into the ocean, with police using boats and aircraft to search between 300 and 800m offshore.
    But a local resident found the twisted wreckage and the body in dunes about three hours later.
    PerthNow understands the Golden Eagle Airlines plane was on its way to Port Hedland to pick up freight.
    It is understood the plane crashed shortly after taking off from Broome Airport, with lights seen over the ocean before suddenly disappearing.
    Witnesses say they heard a loud explosion, like a gunshot, before the plane went down near the beach - an iconic destination in the state's North-West.

    News of the crash quickly spread on Twitter, with Bridey Eggleton tweeting from the scene.

    "I'm here in Broome, and we heard an explosion before it went down, tons of police cars were at the scene, and rescue," she wrote.

    Passengers survive plane crash near Broome

    WA Today
    Five people have escaped injury after the plane they were on crashed near Broome.
    Rescuers have just reached the small plane, which crashed near 12 Mile this morning.
    A police spokesman said everyone on board was uninjured.
    Details of the incident were still sketchy, but the plane crashed into heavy scrub about 20km north of Broome.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Paradise found for croc lovers

    Flip Prior, The West Australian, July 11, 2012, 5:51 am

    A patch of paradise is for sale in historic Wyndham, with 80ha of lush tropical gardens and ponds at the base of the Bastion Range up for grabs for $1.1 million.

    There's just one problem - you'll have to share the space with some of WA's biggest and angriest saltwater crocodiles.

    Tayler Cavanagh, daughter of Wyndham Crocodile Farm owner Paul Cavanagh, admitted to being a bit sick of the sight of salties and was relieved the park was on the market after working there seven days a week for years.

    Armed only with a broom and a pair of wellies, the 19-year-old hoses out stinky crocodile pens every three days, brushing away any juveniles that try to attack her as she drains their pools and removes any rotten meat.

    When baby crocs destined for handbags start hatching, she checks the incubators three times a day and helps them out of their shells.

    "Anyone can do it - it's fairly easy as long as you're smart and you know your boundaries with crocodiles," she said.

    However, she has had a "fair few close calls" over the years.

    "When I hatch babies, they attack me - I used to have scars all over my fingers," Ms Cavanagh said.

    The farm's crocodile park, which is open to tourists, has about 65 male and female "breeders".

    And there are about 1000 juveniles and 600 babies in the farm's hatcheries.

    The crocodile park is a popular tourist attraction, deriving substantial income during the high season from April to November with its daily educational and feeding tour.

    About 1000 crocodiles a year are also farmed and sold into Darwin for about $250 each, bound for the European leather market.'It's fairly easy as long as you're smart and you know your boundaries with crocodiles.'" *Tayler Cavanagh *Wyndham Crocodile Farm