Protestors locked together block the road to Woodside's proposed gas factory at James Price Point on Western Australia's Kimberley coast. Photo: M. Gray
Tony Abbott's chief adviser on indigenous affairs has taken a swipe at businessman and environmentalist Geoffrey Cousins over his campaign against a gas hub at James Price Point in the Kimberley, suggesting he ''pull a bit of money out of his own pocket'' to compensate Aboriginal people who will miss out on a $1.5 billion benefits package.
Energy company Woodside announced in August it would abandon the $40 billion James Price Point proposal and later confirmed it would withdraw from a Native Title deal with Kimberley indigenous groups, which would have delivered health, education and employment benefits worth $1.5 billion. Instead it will process gas reserves offshore using floating technology.
In an interview with Fairfax Media, Warren Mundine, the chairman of Mr Abbott's advisory council on indigenous affairs, lashed Mr Cousins for his role in opposing the James Price Point development.
''The indigenous community … lost out in that process,'' Mr Mundine said. ''I think Geoff Cousins should pull a bit of money out of his own pocket. These people who go out there and stop developments and stop economic opportunities for Aboriginal people ought to put their money where their mouth is.
''I'd like to see what people like Geoff Cousins … are actually doing to create jobs and stop … the social dysfunction in these communities, instead of sitting in Sydney, rabbiting on about how they're protecting the environment.''
But Mr Cousins said Mr Mundine was misguided, and he had not opposed the gas project but had argued James Price Point was the wrong location. He said processing the gas offshore would make the project even more profitable for Woodside and there was no reason why the company should not pay the promised benefits.