WA Premier sends 150 police to help destroy Walmadan culturally significant site

Sunday: The Peacful Protest
Environs Kimberley and the Save the Kimberley campaigners, Walmandan Tent Embassy stalwarts and Human Rights Alliance activists gathered with many from within the Broome community to express their concern to police by peacefully protesting outside Broome Police station on Sunday 14th May, 2012. As they protested, the WA Premier was flying his riot squad into Broome to 'escort' miners housing and equipment into Walmadan.

Monday: WA Premier's destruction Plan
Walmadan, 60km north of Broome, is preferred by WA Premier Colin Barnett, despite the objections of the local indigenous community and environmentalists. Barnett suggested that he is prepared to use State Agreement Acts to ensure gas from the $30 billion-plus project is processed at his preferred greenfields site at Walmadan.

Reports suggest that the operator and major equity holder Woodside sold down a 15 per cent share of its 45 per cent stake in the 12-million-tonne-a-year Browse project to Japanese giants Mitsui and Mitsubishi sparked speculation from market analysts that gas was less likely to be processed at James Price Point and more likely to be piped 900km south to existing North West Shelf processing trains at Karratha.

But the WA Premier's bedfellow, Woodside Petroleums, remain publicly committed to James Price Point whilst other joint venture partners BP, Shell, BHP Billiton and Chevron have advocated sending the gas to Karratha in a bid to further underpin the Walmandan project. The entry of Mitsui and Mitsubishi means the make-up of the Browse partnership mirrors that of the 23-year-old North West Shelf venture.

Mr Barnett was strident yesterday when asked about the speculation that Browse gas would go to the North West Shelf instead of James Price Point.

"No, the decision as to where the gas goes lies with the WA Government, because of the Agreement Acts that will cover James Price Point and the North West Shelf project," Mr Barnett said.

Labor leader Mark McGowan today said the premier should stay out of commercial matters because the Browse project's joint venture partners, including the world's biggest miner BHP Billiton, did not appreciate the interference.

"I know that the investment community in Western Australia, the business community, has a great deal of disquiet about the premier's behaviour in relation to this matter," Mr McGowan said.

He stopped short of saying State Government intervention represented sovereign risk, but international companies seeking to invest in WA would take a dim view of Mr Barnett's comments.

"I don't think there is any role for the premier of Western Australia to be interfering in commercial arrangements.

"It sends a very poor message to overseas investors.

"When governments involve themselves in commercial decision making, it is a slippery slope to disaster."

Woodside boss Peter Coleman told the company's annual meeting: "We have a commitment to take James Price Point through to a certain decision point. That decision point will be reached sometime around the end of this year, early next year and we really won't be perusing other options in earnest until we've reached that decision point and see how that plays out."