WA Premier said he has ‘failed’ over Woodside’s FLNG decision

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said he has failed the people of his state following Woodside’s decision to develop the Browse Basin through floating LNG technology.

Barnett has been vehemently opposed to the development of Browse through a floating option, claiming it will lead to less jobs, increased safety risks and a loss in investment opportunities for WA.

ABC reports that Barnett told a budget estimates hearing that he must accept the company had made a decision to go offshore.

"I'm a realist, I've failed," he said.

"I've failed to get the project, LNG, onto James Price Point, I've failed to create the thousands of jobs for West Australians, I've failed to create the opportunity for West Australian industry.

"And, most important, I have failed the Aboriginal people; they placed their trust in me and I've let them down."

When questioned by Opposition Leader Mark McGowan, the Premier hit back.

"I've just said I failed. Ok? Are you satisfied? I failed," he said.

"Ridicule me if you wish to, laugh me out of public office if you wish to but I did everything possible.

"I sat down on the beach with the Aboriginal people, I negotiated with Aboriginal people, I reached agreement with them when you said it could never be done.

"And, now you seem to take some glee and joy in that the greatest opportunity for economic independence of Aboriginal people has been lost."

The Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr people negotiated a 30-year $1.5 billion benefits package under the native title agreement that paved the way for the onshore plant, a package which will now go off the table.

Barnett also criticised Woodside's handling of the project, insisting the original plan for an onshore project at James price Point ‘was profitable’,

Barnett has previously stated the decision to use FLNG will put pressure on domestic gas prices as 15 per cent of gas that was to be set aside for domestic use if the gas was processed onshore will be abolished.

"There goes literally thousands of manufacturing jobs, most of which would have been in Western Australia," he said.

"There goes gas coming into the domestic market."

Woodside chief Peter Coleman has called for an end to the "hollow discussion" around the onshore development claiming the economics didn’t stack up, WA Today reported.

The project would have cost $45 billion.

"We spent almost $2 billion to get James Price Point to work. I don't know how people can expect companies to spend any more money than that trying to make a development commercially viable,” he said.

"James Price Point simply didn't work. Period. So talking about local content in the context of a project that won't get built is kind of a hollow discussion."

Coleman said the employment opportunities for work on the FLNG structure would be greater than that of an offshore plant, while also urging WA’s manufacturers to get involved.

"Our view is to maximise the use of local industry, and we want local industry to develop themselves so they are competitive, not just in WA but internationally," Mr Coleman said.

In a further blow for the troubled onshore gas hub, a West Australian court has declared the state government’s environmental approval the multi-billion dollar project in the Kimberley was unlawful.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin handed his decision on oil and gas giant Woodside’s James Price Point earlier this week.

The Wilderness Society, and Goolarabooloo elder Richard Hunter, contended conflicts of interest were present in the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) assessment procedure, which meant only one EPA member, chairman Paul Vogel handed down  the final verdict.

Furthermore, they said former environment minister Bill Marmion should not have given approval when there were conflicts of interest.

Chief Justice Martin concurred with the arguments.

“The minister’s statement that the Browse LNG Precinct proposal could be implemented subject to conditions was not a valid exercise of the powers conferred upon the minister,” the judgement said

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