Friday, August 6, 2010

Broome - the next Karratha?

In August 2005, Woodside was investigating the viability of the Quandong area for a 500 hectare natural gas plant to service the Browse Basin 400 km north of Broome. The company did the preliminary surveys with the Kimberley Land Council and met with the senior law bosses of the Dampier Peninsula in Sept 2005.

Now that the Federal court has thrown out legal action being taken by Kimberley gas hub opponent, Joseph Roe, traditional owners are continuing to deliberate their next move.

Meanwhile, the Broome Shire President has recently said that if thousands of workers start building a gas hub north of Broome they must be kept in a closed camp.

Broome Shire president Graeme Campbell says the shire expects the gas hub to go ahead and wants to minimise its social impacts on the town.

Woodside says it expects the hub will take five years to build with 6000 workers (Broome Advertiser page 9 August 18th 2011) employed at peak construction. Mr Campbell said the shire was in serious talks with Woodside and the West Australian government about fly-in, fly-out workers being housed in a closed camp at the gas hub site." If they stayed in town, that would be the end of our tourism, because they would fill every bed and every accommodation house at whatever cost."And if large numbers of workers descended on Broome on a Friday night "all hell breaks loose in the town", Mr Campbell said."We are adamant it must be a closed camp."
The plans I've seen for the camp, they have ovals, they have swimming pools, they have taverns, they have recreation facilities, and as part of their contract they won't be leaving the camp," Mr Campbell said."

Mr Campbell said Woodside had agreed that workers transiting through Broome airport or visiting town must be in civvies, not work uniforms.
Workers would also be barred from going to the beach or fishing near local indigenous communities, he said.

But Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) WA construction division secretary Kevin Reynolds said the union opposed a closed camp and restrictions on workers. He said construction companies increasingly wanted to treat workers who lived in construction camps like prisoners."We're even being dictated to what they're going to wear." They're not locked up in a prison camp. Broome is a beautiful town but it's an open town and it's open to anyone, including construction workers," Mr Reynolds said."It's just ludicrous. What are they going to do, put up Gestapo pillboxes and road blocks to check everyone?"

Woodside corporate affairs adviser Paul Ryan said the venture was developing a code of conduct for workers to strike a balance between providing economic opportunities for Broome and minimising social impacts.He would not be drawn on whether the camp would be a closed one but said the code of conduct addressed how workers should behave and dress "in order to fit in with the local culture and lifestyle of Broome".That included workers not wearing work clothes while travelling or when in town after hours.Mr Ryan said fly-in workers would have to abide by beach and fishing restrictions.

(Source AAP)