Western Australia’s peak conservation group has strongly criticised the Morrison Government’s plan to fast track approval for Australia’s most polluting fossil fuel project – the Woodside Burrup Hub development - saying the approval would deny clean job opportunities for West Australians while doing immense damage to the environment and climate.
The Conservation Council of WA says the announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not supported by West Australians and reflects political interference in the assessment process.
The Prime Minister recently released a full list of projects to benefit from accelerated environmental assessment, including the giant Woodside-led Burrup Hub LNG expansion project in Western Australia and the Narrabri coal seam gas project in NSW.
CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said the Burrup Hub was one of the most complex and environmentally damaging proposals in Australia’s history, and if approved, would produce the world’s most polluting LNG for up to 50 years.
“At a time when West Australians overwhelmingly want to see government support for renewable energy, conservation, and the care economy to provide new jobs, the Morrison government is heading in the opposite direction with plans to support Australia’s biggest polluters, to cause more damage to the climate while delivering few jobs.
“This support could be provided to transformative renewable energy projects that are more commercially viable and create many more jobs than the gas industry – projects such as the Pilbara Asia Renewable Energy Hub.
“Gas is literally the worst industry to be throwing government support behind if you want to create jobs. With a depressed market demand for fossil fuels and renewable energy becoming cheaper by the day, these projects no longer make commercial sense and are rapidly losing the support of private investors.
“This announcement shows that the Morrison government is not serious about creating jobs or the interests of West Australians. Instead, they want to support their mates in the gas industry.
“Research conducted for the Clean State initiative in June showed the majority of Western Australians do not support cutting so-called ‘red and green tape’ for mining and do not support oil and gas expansion as a stimulus measure. In contrast, 85% of West Australians do support investment in clean energy to boost the economy,” he said.
“We call on Prime Minister Morrison to come to WA and talk to West Australians about what they want for the future.
“The reality is that gas projects like the Woodside Burrup Hub and the Santos Narrabri project provide very little employment. The Burrup Hub project is projected to create less than 0.1 jobs per million dollars of investment. This compares to 5-10 jobs per million dollars of investment in renewable energy, conservation and the care economy.
“With estimated total emissions of over six billion tonnes of carbon pollution across its lifetime, the Burrup Hub proposal has profound implications for the global climate across generations.
“The Burrup Hub represents a huge danger to the marine environment, to the climate, and to World Heritage Aboriginal rock art. These are all things that the Commonwealth has statutory responsibility for and that responsibility cannot be met if the assessments are rushed or subject to political pressure from the Morrison government.
“The environmental assessments are highly complex and the independent EPA and Commonwealth agency need to be given to time to do this properly without political interference.
“The Morrison government does not grasp the opportunity to move Australia’s economy into the 21st century with job-creating clean energy projects. Instead, it is attempting to shackle us to an uneconomic polluting industry that creates just 0.1 jobs for every million dollars invested in it, and just 0.4 jobs for every million in sales revenue.
“Western Australia can do better than the Burrup Hub,” concluded Mr Verstegen.