Should Bob Brown hump-back off?
The Punch has this afternoon contacted former Greens leader Bob Brown, who is currently aboard the Steve Irwin as leader of a Sea Shepherd mission in the waters off WA’s Kimberley coast.
We’ll update this post as soon as we hear back, but the gist of our inquiry is his response to a letter from an aboriginal elder, begging him to abandon his whale-saving mission and consider the interests of local aboriginal people.
Some background. Brown has abandoned his traditional Kathmandu fleecey tops for tropical apparel as he seeks to block on environmental grounds the proposed Browse LNG project at James Price Point, which at a cost of $45 billion would be the world’s largest gas project.
Mr Brown was invited on his mission by the Goolarabooloo people, a group of traditional owners who are at odds with the majority of groups represented by the Kimberley Land Council.
Indeed, the KLC was responsible for rubber stamping the Browse deal in conjunction with Woodside and the WA government. In exchange, they receive as massive $1.5 billion windfall over 30 years, to be spent on housing, health, education and other projects.
It is a unique deal for traditional land owners in Australia, and they’re understandably excited about years of better times ahead. That’s why aboriginal elder Rita Augustine, of the Jabirr Jabirr people, sent an extremely strongly-worded letter to Brown yesterday, urging him to hump-back off, if you’ll excuse the pun.
The full letter is reproduced on news.com.au. In part, it reads:
“The only thing we need saving from is people who disrespect our decisions and want to see our people locked up in a wilderness and treated as museum pieces”.
It also says, “what saddens me most is your complete disregard for Aboriginal people. I know you care about the whales and the dinosaur footprints, but what about people?”
Then there’s this bit:
Kimberley Aboriginal people have helped contain large scale gas developments to a single site. We continue to push for the best environmental and social impact safeguards, and community benefits. You could easily back us up in these efforts.”
It doesn’t get much more clear than that.
Bob Brown wrote an interesting piece on crikey.com.au today, in which he said
“James Price Point is shaping up as another Franklin dam: a furore over natural and cultural heritage threatened by political hubris and, in return, corporate disaster. Just as the Franklin dam brought the downfall of Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission in 1983, so the Kimberley gas factory could bring about Woodside’s implosion in 2013.”
You can’t help wondering if he’s trying to recreate old glories here, on an issue which is far more nuanced than a dam which should never have been built, and which he bravely and justifiably blocked.
You also have to ask what he means about Woodside’s implosion. Is that what he wants? A massive corporate which provides thousands of jobs to collapse? Isn’t he just there to save the whales?
Actually, we did ask that and more. And as we said at the top, we’ll update as soon as we hear back.
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