PR War Hots Up In Kimberley Over Gas Hub

The public relations war is hotting up in the Kimberley region in Western Australia over the proposed multi-billion dollar gas hub.

Premier Colin Barnett (picture ABC) in Perth is pulling out all of his 30 plus years of public relations training when he said he was disappointed the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) was not able to sign the Indigenous land-use agreement by today’s deadline.

His public relations strategy has taken a hard line approach when he added the government would not give an extension for talks.

The public relations plan takes a new twist because a native title lawyer has warned the State Government will have to continue negotiating with opponents of the Kimberley gas hub even if it tries to compulsorily acquire land for the project.

What public relations tips will the Premier use to win public and stakeholder support in planning to take a proposal to resume the land to cabinet within weeks?

He's already on the front foot with this grab on ABC TV last night.

"The core amount of land is very small. Someone said if the whole of the Kimberley where the equivalent of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, we are just taking one seat."

In terms of public relations writing, this is a brilliant metaphor to describe a very complex issue.

In terms of public relations resources and public monies, the State Government has spent $16 million over the past two years funding negotiations and geotechnical studies at the proposed hub site to be located at James Price Point. This is a huge amount in any body's books.

And, this is just in the lead up negotiations.

It had also extended the deadline three times before and this is a key plank in the public relations campaign.

The KLC had failed to reach an agreement with various Aboriginal groups that are claiming native title over the gas hub area.

“I’m disappointed that the Kimberley Land Council has not been able to sign the indigenous land use agreement particularly as agreement has been reached on the site and on the whole detail of the $1.5 billion benefits of economic and social and housing and other matters for people in the area,” Mr Barnett said.

Again, clear messaging in the public relations strategy.

Mr Barnett said he will talk to the KLC before making a decision on what the next step is, and anticipates that a decision will be taken to cabinet in the next few weeks.

He added that compulsory land acquisition is not a long process, saying that it could take 18 months.

Woodside Petroleum is looking to use the Kimberley gas hub for its $20 billion Browse gas project, however a final decision between all the partners in the project has yet to be made.

Watch this space because this is just the beginning a major PR campaign to win public support for a massive resources project.

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