Updated: July 20, 2012
Prime Minister speaks out on James Price Point
As the former leader of the Greens, Dr Bob Brown, boards a Sea Shepherd vessel bound for the Kimberley, Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke out for the first time last week about the anti-gas hub sentiment brewing right across Australia.
"This is an ancient whale birthing centre," Dr Brown said of the waters surrounding pristine James Price Point, the proposed site for an enormous gas hub that – if built – will be 25 times the size of Melbourne's CBD. "It's no place for gas factories, gas ships, and all the disruption that's going to come with this $40 billion dollar destructive project – if it goes ahead."
Meanwhile, in a process surrounded by controversy, Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority gave the gas hub project a widely criticised tick of approval this week – but the Federal Government is yet to sign off on it, and the Prime Minister is clearly feeling the pressure.
"Our environmental assessments, whether its James Prime Point or anywhere else, are done on strict scientific and environmental grounds," said Ms Gillard when challenged on the issue. "It's not about who's on which ship or who's holding up which placard – it is about the science and the environment and what is best for our environment. So that is what the Minister [Tony Burke] will take into account."
But, in light of the West Australian Government's recent failure to deliver a rigorous, un-biased, scientific assessment of the project, the Federal Government now has it's work cut out for it.
If Ms Gillard's own strict standards are to be met, then a proper assessment of gas processing sites outside Kimberley, further research into the effects on local whale populations and calving, and appropriate recognition of the damaging social and community impacts of the project should be just a few of many outstanding items on the Federal Government's to-do list.
Minister Burke is not expected to make his decision on whether to approve the Kimberley gas hub until late 2012 or early 2013.
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For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society WA Inc
City West Lotteries House
2 Delhi St
West Perth, WA, 6005
Phone: 08 9420 7255