Friday, October 29, 2010

Forum condemns land grab at James Price Point

Corporations trying to construct a gas processing hub at James Price Point, north of Broome on WA’s Kimberley coastline “might have a bit of difficulty getting their power plant built” if Premier Colin Barnett pushes ahead with compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney told a Fremantle forum on October 28.

The land seizure is a “very serious problem for our union,” he said. The AMWU has signed agreements with Aboriginal peak bodies across the country guaranteeing union support for Aboriginal communities in dealing with mining corporations.

More than that, the AMWU will write Aboriginal cultural rights into enterprise bargaining agreements that it signs with companies. It is determined that corporations give “real jobs, with real education and real outcomes” for Aborigines.”

McCartney told an audience of around 60 people that the AMWU will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the Kimberley Land Council in fighting the compulsory acquisition. “There should be no acquisition of Aboriginal land anywhere, anytime,” he said.

Aboriginal Party leader Glenn Moore said that his party opposes the project outright because of its greenhouse gas effects. “Australia should be the frontrunner in sustainable energy,” he said.

Moore said that the Aboriginal party is determined to “support Kimberley traditional society.”

Marine scientist Brooke Anderton explained how the proposed development would affect whale, turtle and other marine life attracted to the area by the Leeuwin Current. An example of how sensitive these species are to disruption is demonstrated by the Green Turtle, which breeds once every six years.

Socialist Alliance spokesperson Kamala Emanuel observed that the words “always was, always will be Aboriginal land” should be taken seriously even though governments never take land rights seriously if  “some rich greedy corporation wants it.” She said that the Alliance is totally opposed to the project, which would increase WA’s greenhouse gas emissions by 32 million tonnes per annum.

Robin Chapple from the WA Greens also said that his party is opposed to the project.

[Article by Barry Healy for Green Left Weekly. Photos by Alex Bainbridge.]