Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett Commits to Kimberley Marine Protection

The Conservation Council of WA and the Wilderness Society WA today met Premier Barnett on the steps of Parliament House to hand over 6000 letters urging him, “Don’t Fail the Whales“. 

The petitions call on the Government to establish a large marine park covering all of the nursery of the worlds largest population of humpback whales, and marine sanctuaries to protect the Kimberley’s unique coral reefs and marine life.

Talking with The Wilderness Societies Jenita Enevoldsen and Dr Jill St John, the Premier committed to establishing a marine park at Camden Sound, part of the Humpback Nursery, as promised, but also alluded to creating new parks connecting land and sea right around the North Kimberley.  Such a network of parks would be one of the largest in Australia.

“As you know Camden Sound will be made a marine park, and we are looking at extending it across the top of the Kimberley…we are going to ensure there is a connected system of parks on the land as well as in the sea. This will be one of Australia’s greatest national parks, and hopefully we’ll have it not in place, but the decision made by the end of the year,” said the Premier.

Premier Colin Barnett Speaks to Jenita Envoldsen and Dr Jill StJohn from The Wilderness Society

On the same day the state opposition released a media statement claiming that the commitment to the park was meerly a ‘smokescreen’ for the development of an LNG hub at James Price Point.

The LNG development is subject to a growing campaign from environmental groups, locals, and sections of the Aboriginal community, with recent evidence showing it also sits within the nursery area of the humpback whales. 

Other industrial development also threatens the Kimberley, including mining leases on the unique palm forests and landscapes of the Mitchell Plateau.  Fire and feral animals are the other threats that need to be addressed.

With draft plans for the new marine park expected any day, we watch with interest to see if the pro-development Premier can really deliver first a scientifically sound marine park at Camden Sound, and then protection for the unique values of the Kimberley.

The Squid does remember a pre-Premier Colin Barnett giving an impassioned speech about how he was converted to the cause of protecting the rock art of the Burrup Peninsula.  But weeks, let alone years, are a long time in politics.


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