Aboriginal anger at gas project plans

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Preliminary work has started on a controversial gas project on the Western Australian coast. The state’s premier has aroused fury by announcing that land for the development will be compulsorily purchased from its Aboriginal owners.

The Aus$30 billion project to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at James Price Point has become one of the most contentious issues affecting Aborigines. Unable to reach agreement with the Kimberley Land Council, the Aboriginal organization that represents the site’s traditional owners, Premier Colin Barnett announced recently that he plans to compulsorily purchase the land necessary to construct the plant.

The Director of the Kimberley Land Council, Wayne Bergmann, told the Australian press, ‘This is colonialisation all over again – of taking an interest away from some of the most disadvantaged Aboriginal people for the benefit of the stronger party.’

The Kimberley Land Council says that more than 20,000 hectares will be acquired, five times the amount that Mr Barnett had said were needed.

The operator of the planned project is Woodside Petroleum, with Shell, BHP Billiton, Chevron and BP also involved as minority partners.

An online petition is available to sign.