McGowan slams hub approvals process

KIM KIRKMAN

The State Opposition last week moved a motion in Parliament, castigating the Government for “mishandling” the proposed James Price Point gas hub development.

Labor accused the Government of conflicts of interest in the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision- making and of having disregard for indigenous cultural and heritage sensitivities.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan cited issues surrounding the environmental approvals process, letters from the Department of Indigenous Affairs to Woodside advising of possible Aboriginal sites in the James Price Point work area, which were withdrawn at Woodside’s request and the Kimberley Land Council’s recent appeal against the EPA’s approval of the project.

“For the people of the Kimberley, threatening compulsory acquisition against indigenous people who have had thousands of years of connection to the land was highly aggressive and unnecessary, and delayed any economic activity taking place,” he said.

“The second thing (Premier Colin Barnett) did was threaten and intimidate some of the major investors in the State and both of those things can’t be helpful to WA. “The fact that the Government can’t answer basic questions about the social and cost of living impact on the Broome community, all of those things required a proper parliamentary debate.”

Labor MP Tom Stephens blamed the Barnett Government for “constantly compromising and corrupting the processes of government”.

The motion, on Tuesday last week, came a day after the Australian Greens challenged the project processes during Senate question time on Monday.

Mr Barnett rejected WA Labor claims and the motion was defeated on party lines.

The Opposition also called for Minister of the Environment Bill Marmion to step aside until the Browse LNG project environmental assessment was completed” to ensure WA did not “miss out on the biggest industrial development in its history”.

Shadow environment minister Sally Talbot said Mr Marmion had refused to respond to allegations he was complicit in a deal that allowed a single EPA board member to determine the environmental assessment of the proposed James Price Point gas hub.