The following are interviews I conducted with ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the No Gas Campaign. Many of these people have been vilified by the press, the Police and other community members as tree hugging “hippies”. In my eyes they are “hereos” and I think that history will find them as such too! Many people still remain uneducated as to the ramifications this proposed Hub will have on Broome and I sincerely hope that they realise BEFORE it’s too late!

At the end of the day should we try to defend the image of tree hugging hippies? I mean whats wrong with hugging a tree, what harm does it do?

Perhaps instead of criticising the “hippy” it might be in our best interests to look past the dreadlocks and daggy clothes to the passion for the defence of our planet.

More often than not it will surprise you the depth of knowledge these people have with regards to their campaign. Information gleaned from hours of reading boring and in depth submissions, that most of us, wouldn’t dream of reading. Maybe these people with nothing better to do than sit around and harass “people just trying to do their jobs”, are really our watch dogs who have insight into what is really going on. Food for thought?

Interview with Nik Wevers

Nik WeversWhat is your current occupation?
I run my own business, Flowers on Saville St.

When did you join the campaign?
I have been involved with the campaign since its inception on the 17th October, 2008 when the Premier announced North Head as the location for the Kimberley LNG precinct.

What have been some of the things that you have done for the Broome Community “No Gas Campaign”?
Like many people we’ve had to keep abreast of Federal, State and Local Government decisions and approvals for this project. It’s needed a significant amount of time in research, reading and study of reports and Government Legislation and responding with submissions and letter writing. The areas covered include Town and Environmental Planning, Indigenous Affairs, Local Government responsibilities, Heritage, Conservation and so on.

Luckily this has been shared by many in the Campaign, all of us have different skill sets and knowledge which we have been able to apply to the protest. The Campaign’s objective is to stop the project by alerting the media delaying the works by Woodside and educating the Community. I think we have been largely successful to date and as media spokesperson I’ve done many interviews with media, assisted in information nights and rallies and I’ve also spent some time out at the blockade at Walmadan and at Quondong. I have also spent much time managing the ‘no gas’ phone which we use to keep the community informed about what’s going on and as a call to action.

How many hours a week would you spend UNPAID dedicated to the campaign?
Sometimes, when the pressure is on, it feels like having another full time job.

How has your contribution for the campaign affected you and those around you?
It means I’ve had to make hard decisions about what I spend my time on, I regret the time missed with family and I don’t get up the coast every weekend as I did previously, however the fight is worth it as we will win, we have to or the Kimberley will disappear as we know it and our children will not thank us for giving away the country without a fight.

The big question is WHY have you done so much?
I have lived in the North West more than half of my life most of that time in Broome. I’ve seen the damage in the Pilbara and I would hate to see the Kimberley go the same way. I just wish everyone would take a big deep breath and consider whether digging the resources out of the ground and exporting is as worthwhile as preserving the wilderness that the Kimberley is. There has to be a business case for both and I’m convinced preservation has very long term economic and social benefits as well as environmental protection. No one seems to have undertaken this comparative process and the State Government has certainly NOT DONE a business case for the Kimberley LNG project. Broome and the Dampier Peninsula is a special area for me I have been lucky to live here so long I think I have a duty to ensure it is not destroyed by voracious corporations or a dictatorial State Government.

Nik Wevers is a quiet, gently spoken woman who is much admired in her community. She is a former Councillor and served on the Broome Council for 10 years including 6 years as Deputy Shire President. She is a dedicated professional who has contributed much to protect our country.

Interview with Rae Price

No Gas CampaignWhat is your current occupation?
After a lifetime of work, I am now on an Aged Pension. I have always been a tax payer and worked hard in my previous employment.

When did you join the campaign?
I joined the campaign at its inception. Having participated in the first Broome rally to oppose the gas precinct, it was obvious that the community wanted to protect itself from pollutants that are so harmful to health and to preserve the delicate ecosystem in the Kimberley.

What have been some of the things that you have done for the Broome Community “No Gas Campaign”?
I have also signed, posted and distributed petitions and submissions to the relevant parties.
As mentioned, I participated in the first rally; have written numerous times to the Federal and State Environment Ministers alerting them to my concerns.
I endeavour to inform friends on social networks and also assist in the administration of another James Price Point social information network. I also donate to various groups to assist in the campaign.
After living in Broome for over 15 years I sadly had to leave due to family commitments.
I discussed the issue with others who were unaware of the threat to the Kimberley.

How many hours a week would you spend UNPAID dedicated to the campaign?
Each week I would spend on average 20-25 hours dedicated to the campaign to protect the Kimberley and assist the campaign. I do this out of love of the country and the people I love in the town of Broome and it’s surrounds.

How has your contribution for the campaign affected you and those around you?
The affect of committing myself to this campaign has resulted in seeing many of my dear friends in Broome harassed by the local Police and by the troops sent by Premier Barnett. A dear friend, aged 80, was so severely manhandled last year I nearly “threw the towel in”. How selfish of me! Other friends have been monitored; had drive-by visits with spotlights aimed at their homes up to 4 times a night; have had their number plates taken and been targeted by the police; been pulled over by the same police for breath tests and abuse simply because they have a NO GAS sticker on their car. When attending meetings relating to James Price Point, they have been filmed and please remember above all of this – at the blockade they have all been filmed as the police or Woodside workers have cameras on their shirts! This is totally unwarranted. The protectors of this country are carrying out a peaceful demonstration to protect an area of Australia which, if developed, would be a tragic loss.

How has it affected me? Well, many sleepless nights; concern at the possibility of losing such a stunning piece of country and a wonderful community as well as the concern of damage to environment and livelihoods. Frustration at Premier Barnett’s stubbornness and inability to consult in any meaningful dialogue with the community; the inability of the Frederal and State Environment Minister’s to stand up for what is right.

If you are reading this and you live in the south of Western Australia – would you stand and accuse those who would try and protect Rottnest Island if a similar site were to be proposed for that? I think not. If you are reading this and you’re in the Eastern States, think of the most precious piece of country which is so meaningful and special to you (a place you cherish), and apply the same question.

The big question is WHY have you done so much?
Many friends who own and operate small, successful business are extremely concerned that their businesses will suffer if the development goes ahead, and rightfully so. They are concerned for their children and grandchildren from a health perspective.

Having lived in Broome for many years I have never before or since lived in such a tight-knit, welcoming and compassionate community. Most of my friends have expressed that they will leave Broome if Premier Barnett refuses to accept what the Joint Venture Partners would prefer : drill for the gas and pipe it to the Pilbara which will cost $10b less than the estimated cost of processing at James Price Point.

It both frustrates and infuriates me that the press in general misrepresent the protectors of James Price Point as “mungs” or “greenies”. Let’s get this straight : the majority of people who man the information booth at Manari Road and those who stand strong at the blockade are employed or self-employed. On occasion backpackers travelling around Australia stop in Broome for a break and many of them go to support the blockade. Since when does it matter what a person wears or how their hair looks? When did we become such a judgmental society? The backpackers involved at the blockade have been committed, intelligent young people who have saved hard for a holiday and yet they find time to stand up for the environment. I find this commendable.

The Kimberley is such a pristine area of the country and needs to be cared for. I became determined to fight against Premier Barnett’s pig-headed insistence that no other options could be considered, other than the initial option he chose. Why?

I appreciate that the Joint Venture Partners are businesses and as such are wishing to make a profit. This is all good and well. Nevertheless, even as a business, however large or small, one has to be accountable for actions taken. You can run a business and still have a social conscience – or I thought you could.

Rae Price is another very intelligent, gently spoken woman who was an integral part of the Broome Library for many years. She was always quick for a laugh and a kind word and Broome community was sad to see her go.


Interview with Louise Middleton

Louise-MiddletonWhat is your current occupation?
I am a full time activist and occasionally I do a bit of glass work.

What have been some of the things that you have done for the Broome Community “No Gas Campaign”?
I have worked on the campaign since 2008 and during that time I have assisted with community rallies, focused on doing a blog called “Hands Off Country, which was purely designed to educate and inform our community about what it meant to have an LNG Gas Precinct on their coast. I have participated in incorporating community science, undertaking lots of dinosaur surveys and also on bilbies and whales, so really working with the science, ensuring that the science is written up, peer reviewed, and taken seriously. I have also lived in country for extended periods of time over the 4 years and during that time, I have participated in blockades, protest actions, running communications and social media. I have also participated in the establishment of the “No Gas” camps and the maintenance of those camps.
How many hours a week would you spend UNPAID dedicated to the campaign?
That varies a lot, depending on the news, if its a good news week or a bad news week but I have spent up to 70 hours per week on the campaign, sometimes 24/7 over extended periods of time. At the moment I spend approx 20 hrs per week maintaining my blog.

How has your contribution for the campaign affected you and those around you?
I think how its affected me in the long period of time, was burn out, and with burn out you get depression, a lot of sadness, its also quite dis-empowering. I think that comes about because your constantly dealing with State Government,that is totally corrupt and changes legislation, so you can work for hours on court cases, that can be dismissed within minutes. In addition to that, now I am resenting that alot of people who have put a lot of time into the campaign, would normally be doing other things, like teaching kids to swim, running football clubs, being involved in youth centres, or looking at some of the social justice issues that need to be addressed in town. I can’t participate in social services anymore because this gas hub is going to affect and have ramifications to all those services whether its domestic violence, youth or drug or suicide issues.
The big question is WHY have you done so much?
Ideologically I firmly believe that we are just caretakers of this planet, and at this moment I think the planet is being run by rogues. My aim in life is to leave something for my children and my grandchildren and everybody elses children, so I am committed that way but I also think that my history that I have with the dinosaur footprints, the Lurujarri Trail and my connection with the old Paddy Roe, god bless his soul, and the Goolabaroo people, country, understanding the remnant rainforest, and sleeping on that ground, and fishing, and swimming, enjoying and healing in that country, is really my motivating force. It hasn’t been one thing WHY, its been a combination of my history.

What do you think has been the most positive thing about the campaign?
I think that it has woken up country and by that I mean the art, the music, the films, the posters, the drama, it has been amazing. Yes it has been traumatic, its been trying and its been incredibly distressing but at the same time, I think that whats important to recognise is that everyone has taken to the campaign and utilised the skills that they have been blessed with. So photographers, artists, musicians and all these people, have been woken up by the campaign and by country and I think that’s been an incredible plus and it re-inforces the fabric fibre of the Broome Community by bringing us all together in a shared goal which is to ensure that James Price Point proposed LNG, world’s largest processing hub does not go ahead.

Louise Middleton is a passionate defender of the planet and her community. Her wealth of knowledge has been a truly awesome gift to this campaign. Louise has contributed and set up various non profit organisations all over Broome that are instrumental with dealing with social justice issues. A much admired and loved community member.