Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kimberley blockade and protest against Woodside's corporate invasion and the WA corporatocracy

West Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlum made an important speech in the Australian Senate today about the protest and blockade against Woodside in the West Kimberley, now into its third week.

For 16 days hundreds of protestors have been blockading access roads to James Price Point, the site of the proposed $30 billion gas hub 50 kilometers north of Broome in the Kimberley region. The protestors are preventing Woodside contractors from reaching the site to carry out surveys and clear vegetation. Despite having no environmental or heritage clearances the State and Federal Governments have allowed Woodside to commence the work (you can follow the protest here).

Here are some extracts from Scott Ludlum's speech in the Senate today:
These scenes are being played out all over again as Woodside moves heavy equipment on site to begin land clearing for the Browse Basin gas project-a gigantic industrial complex which is being proposed for 40 or 50 kilometres north of Broome at the moment. It is amazing to hear the reports and see what is happening up there. We now have a blockade camp at Minari Road. They have had up to 120 people blocking the road and trying to stop-successfully-Woodside and its contractors getting equipment onto country. 

It is extraordinary to see this because this project has not yet been approved by either the state government or the federal government. In my experience non-violent direct action, with people putting themselves in the way to stop these sorts of projects, generally comes last, after all options have been exhausted. But in this case it is happening before either the state or federal government has given formal approval-because the company has decided to move in and start land-clearing anyhow. They are proposing to put in roads and flatten areas-allegedly to do work to complete their environmental impact processes-before approvals have been given.
The residents of the Kimberley do not necessarily want the same mistakes that have plagued the Pilbara and the south of our country to be repeated and that is why they are standing up. What needs to happen surely would be obvious to anybody with a basic appreciation of what has gone on in Australia and how we can do things differently in the Kimberley. We need to listen to local voices for local governance and local economic development in a form that is appropriate to the Kimberley and not simply to repeat the mistakes of the past at the behest of oil and gas companies and mining companies. That will end up locking-in on non-extractive economic development that is not based on chewing down the resource base on which we depend.
While the protests and blockade in the Kimberley has a strong local focus and are being led by local Aboriginal people and people who live in the West Kimberley, they also  reflect a growing protest movement erupting all over the state opposed to the WA corporatocracy- the system of government in WA that exists to serve the interests of corporations and the wealthy, and which involves close ties between business, corporations like Woodside and the Barnett Government  and its public service bureaucracy.

Some examples of other protests include:
  • campaigns against proposals to mine coal and bauxite in the densely populated South west of the State
  • campaigns against multinational corporations like Serco and G4S who are winning more and more contracts  from the Barnett Government to provide public services
  • campaigns against the privatization of public services and public assets to corporations in areas such as public hospitals, prisons, public utilities, infrastructure, health care and justice
  • campaigns against the uranium mining and nuclear industry
  • legal action by local residents against Alcoa for the harm done to communities and residents in the South West
  • local community action against polluting corporations in towns and communities such as Kwinana and Esperance
  • campaigns against mining companies granted access to community water supplies in the Wheatbelt 
  • community opposition to Monsanto's introduction of GM crops and its takeover of grain research and production in WA.

No comments: