ABORIGINAL groups at odds over the James Price Point site marked for a $35 billion gas hub have withdrawn a move to splinter into separate native title claims.
The West Australian government and the project operator, Woodside Petroleum, had threatened to suspend more than $1 billion in benefits.
It is believed there are long-standing differences over the cultural significance of the site, which includes James Price Point, between the Goolarabooloo and the Jabir Jabir people of the Kimberley region.
But the two groups had remained in the one native title claim group since the 1990s until an application was filed last week to withdraw the claim, which would have allowed separate claims to be registered in time for the next round of land acquisition talks.
It is believed this would have entitled the two groups to participate separately in negotiations over the Browse hub proposal.
But moments before going to court yesterday, those behind the decision to splinter buckled under pressure from the WA government and Woodside to withdraw the application, leaving the groups to remain as a single negotiating body.
The hub at James Price Point is one option for processing gas from the Browse Basin, off the WA coast. Woodside is not expected to make a final investment decision until early next year.
Representing the joint claim group, lawyer Vance Hughston told the Federal Court in Perth that both sides had received letters from Woodside and the state government since the application to end the claim was lodged last week.
They were served with default notices in relation to the previous Browse Precinct Agreement, estimated to be worth about $1.5 billion, as well as being served with notices to suspend their benefits under the agreement.
”The applicants are no longer prepared to push ahead with this discontinuance,” Mr Hughston said by vidoeolink.
”The applicants find themselves in an impossible situation, where the stakes are so high that they’re not prepared to take this matter any further without instructions from the broader group.”
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