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'No obsession' on WA Kimberley development: Barnett
23/03/2012 - West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has denied he is "obsessed" with industrialising the Kimberley, following a new move by his government to compulsorily acquire land for a $30 billion gas hub there. Cortlan Bennett
The government re-advertised notices of its intent to compulsorily acquire 3500ha of land at James Price Point this week, after the original notices were ruled invalid by the WA Supreme Court.
The Kimberley community has been divided over the proposed gas hub, 60km north of Broome, and protesters have waged ongoing battles with its joint developer, Woodside Petroleum.
Conservationists have described the sparsely populated Kimberley as "one of the last great wilderness areas on earth".
Responding to a claim by WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert that "the government remains obsessed by industrialisation of the Kimberley", Barnett denied it was the case.
"No, we're not industrialising the Kimberley," the premier told reporters in Perth on Thursday.
"I'm not obsessed at all."
Barnett said the new notices were issued because the original notices had not been "precisely defined".
"We've now come back and precisely defined the 3500ha in the same area, but now more tightly," he said.
WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled in December that the original notices to take land and extinguish native title at James Price Point were unlawful because they did not contain a description of the land required.
New notices of intent were advertised in The Koori Mail newspaper on Wednesday.
Woodside, the state government and the Kimberley Land Council have signed a deal over the hub that would see $1.5 billion in benefits going to the region's Aboriginal people over 30 years.
But some traditional land owners in the area - mainly members of the Jabbir Jabbir and Goolarabooloo people - have opposed the deal and don't want to see any development of the pristine northern coastline.
On Wednesday, Siewert said Barnett's new move to forcibly acquire the site would "harden community opposition" to it.
"Premier Barnett and the joint partners continue to ignore the fact that better options exist for this project, including sending the (liquid natural gas) to the Pilbara to use existing infrastructure," she said in a statement.
"Instead, we see a land grab that will lead to land clearing, drilling and construction in important terrestrial and marine environments."
A final investment decision by Woodside and its joint venture partners on the plant is expected later this year.