View Comments
State rejects Oakajee IP liability
State rejects Oakajee IP liability

The Barnett Government has moved to douse speculation it is liable for $78 million in intellectual property rights related to the Oakajee port and rail project as part of its confidential state agreement with Japanese trading giant Mitsubishi.

A spokeswoman for Premier Colin Barnett's office confirmed to WestBusiness last night that it had "no ongoing liability to pay for intellectual property rights" relating to the development.

These are believed to include environmental and other onshore approvals, which are "owned" by the Oakajee Port and Rail venture, giving it a significant advantage over other proponents, according to industry sources.

In contrast, the WA Government is believed to own approvals for the deepwater port, stemming from the days when it was spruiking the failed Kingstream steel project.

Whispers about the payment have built steadily in WA mining circles since the Japanese trading house put its OPR subsidiary on ice last week to await fresh talks with a possible Chinese partner for the troubled $6 billion venture.

The financial aspects of the deal have never been revealed, in part because, unlike other State agreements, the WA Government is a commercial partner in the venture via its pledge to spend $339 million on common user infrastructure.

However, the Opposition previously attacked the Government in Parliament, demanding to know whether the $78 million payment would be triggered by a collapse of the development.

When Mitsubishi lost its exclusive rights to the development in December last year, after admitting it could not fund the project, the parties agreed not to pursue issues of intellectual property in relation to the changes. But it was unclear, until now, whether this had extinguished for good the State's obligation to pay for any IP.

Though giving no deadline, the Government has said it intends to table the agreement in State Parliament, at which time financial details would be revealed to MPs.