Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Facilitator appointed for proposed Kimberley gas hub

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Attorney-General
    The Hon Martin Ferguson MP, Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism

The Australian Government has appointed Mr Bill Gray AM to facilitate negotiations with Indigenous interests in relation to establishing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub for processing the Browse Basin gas resource in the Kimberley.

The Australian Government is keen to see the Browse Basin LNG development proceed, and acknowledges that the developers require certainty regarding access to the proposed site.

This appointment follows discussions between the Australian and West Australian Governments to deliver an early and productive outcome for the region.

The Australian Government is also keen to ensure that the Indigenous interests involved receive a fair and reasonable compensation package.

It is important that any negotiated outcome is based on industry best practice, so that future generations of Indigenous people in the region benefit long-term.

Mr Gray will work with the key parties, including the WA Government, Woodside Energy Limited Joint Venture, the Indigenous interests such as the Kimberley Land Council and relevant Australian Government agencies.

The Australian Government is determined to ensure there is proper consultation with Indigenous interests.

The aim will be to achieve a mutually agreed outcome by 31 March 2009.

The proposed facilitation of this major resource development project is consistent with the Australian Government’s approach to minimise the recourse to litigation in matters involving native title.

Mr Gray is a former Australian Electoral Commissioner. He has a long and distinguished background in negotiations relating to Indigenous land and resource development issues.

The Australian Government is committed to finding ways to harness the economic benefits of native title for the long-term benefit of communities and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Kimberley Gas Precinct Facilitation


Industry parties are currently assessing options for the development of the Browse basin gas resource off the Kimberley coastline. This will involve the development of an LNG processing plant at either a location in the Kimberley, the Burrup Peninsula, Darwin or possibly offshore.

At least one of the industry parties, the Woodside Energy Limited Joint Venture requires land tenure certainty by 30 June 2009.

The Australian Government is keen to see the Browse development proceed, and in the event the processing facility is located in the Kimberley, is keen to see Indigenous interests – both native title and others – receive a fair and reasonable compensation package which reflects the commercial realities facing all parties.

To assist in the orderly and expeditious resolution of the negotiations, the Australian Government is prepared to fund a facilitator to work with the key parties: WA Government, Woodside, the Indigenous interests and relevant Australian Government agencies.

The facilitator will seek in principle agreement with the KLC, the native title party, and Woodside, over the acquisition of the site area, by agreement, on the understanding that the Western Australian State Government will not commence any action to acquire land for the site area before 31 March 2009.

The task would be to facilitate an early and mutually acceptable negotiated outcome in relation to the Indigenous related land access issues, which would:

  • Deliver early certainty to the WA Government and industry parties, through an agreement with the KLC to the early acquisition of the land necessary for a new onshore LNG Precinct;
  • Deliver a commercially realistic and fair financial package to Indigenous stakeholders in the region, including relevant traditional owners/native title holders and other Indigenous residents with historical associations to the region;
  • Ensure that the Indigenous financial package reflects industry best practice so that the benefits made available are used for the long term benefit of Indigenous interests, and that cash payments to individuals are minimised.

The Australian Government notes that current negotiations and consultations will continue in parallel with the facilitation process.

It will also be important that Woodside be able to access relevant sites to undertake schedule-critical technical and environmental studies in advance of any negotiated agreement.

The Australian Government proposes that Mr Bill Gray AM undertake this task. Mr Gray was a former Australian Electoral Commissioner. He was for many years a senior public servant dealing with Indigenous land and resource development issues. He has a long background in negotiation of resource developments including the Ranger uranium agreement in the late 1970s, and most recently the renegotiation of the BHP / GEMCO mining leases on Groote Eylandt in the NT.

Mr Gray will work to facilitate a resolution by 31 March 2009.