WA govt bungles Browse land seizure again

WA premier Colin Barnett (AAP IMAGE/JOSH JERGA)

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: The West Australian government has again bungled its application to compulsorily acquire land for Woodside’s controversial Browse gas hub project in the Kimberley.

The original notices were ruled invalid by the Supreme Court a year ago because they lacked clear descriptions of the land, as required by the Land Administration Act.

At the time, Premier Colin Barnett said the judgment was not a major setback and would not delay the development.

The premier had, since 2008, threatened to seize the land because he was frustrated by legal disputes among native title claimant groups and wanted to see the project advance.

On Monday, it emerged that the state government’s second application had also been knocked back.

Lands Minister Brendon Grylls conceded the blunder – a failure to notify the Native Title Tribunal – was personally embarrassing.

“I’m glad that we’ve identified this problem – I’m certainly glad that we’ve identified it now, prior to any serious activity on that land, rather than later,” Mr Grylls told ABC radio.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan labelled the compulsory acquisition “interventionism”, saying it would make the project less likely to go ahead, not more likely.

Woodside is expected to decide whether the Browse joint venture will proceed by the first half of 2013.


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