Friday, August 19, 2011

Melbourne rallies for the Kimberley wilderness

Nearly a thousand people turned out in Melbourne on Sunday August 15 for a rally to “Save the Kimberley”. Musicians entertained the crowd in between speakers from environment groups and indigenous communities.
The protest was called in support of the campaign to prevent a natural gas processing facility being built at James Price Point, called Walmadan by the indigenous people of the area, on the Dampier Peninsula near Broome, WA in the famous Kimberley wilderness region.

Kevin Blatchford, director of the Save the Kimberley group, traveled to Melbourne for the event. He told Green Left that the group was formed in early 2007 “to raise awareness about threats to the Kimberley, especially Browse Basin gas, as we believed it was the biggest threat as it would drive further industrialisation in the Kimberley.”

Blatchford explained that he couldn’t speak for the indigenous people of the area, but that “people need to understand, there’s a lot of spin… in relation to traditional owners signing off. It’s just that, it’s spin. If you’re listening to that you’re not getting the full story from the other traditional owners in the area that don’t want the project to go ahead, and really you need to speak to them.”

“There’s two ways this is going to be stopped. One is that Tony Burke will find an environmental issue that is big enough and strong enough – and we’ve certainly put plenty of them under his nose in relation to wildlife at risk, but the other one is that the joint venture partners – Shell, Chevron, BHP Billiton, BP – they’d prefer to have this project done elsewhere.

“It’s [Federal Resources, Energy and Tourism Minister] Martin Ferguson that’s really pushing, and [WA state premier] Barnett, to have the gas on shore in the Kimberley to drive the industry throughout the rest of the Kimberley.

“I think this issue is a really big environmental issue that all Australians, whatever their political persuasion, can be involved in. They don’t have to destroy the nature of the Kimberley to access this resource. Still the same royalties, still the same number of jobs, if the gas is processed somewhere else in the Pilbara where they already have an industrial footprint.”

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