Kimberley Liquefied Natural Gas Precinct - Tourism WA Report

September 8, 2010


HON ROBIN CHAPPLE (Mining and Pastoral) [9.58 pm]: I rise tonight to speak in response to a comment made by Dr Constable, the Minister for Tourism, in an article published on Friday, 3 September in The West Australian, in which she sought to defend the recent tourism impact assessment on the Kimberley natural gas LNG project report. That report was commissioned by Tourism Western Australia in partnership with the Department of State Development. It is a lengthy report but in part the executive summary states —

Industry stakeholders, visitors and resident groups surveyed considered that the proposed development would have a negative impact on the Kimberley’s reputation and image however, there was a majority view that the LNG development will increase the economic base and economic diversity of the region. Around one-third of visitors stated that they would be less likely to return to the destination if the reputation of the Kimberley was damaged however, when asked if they were prepared to consider cheaper and more regular flights to Broome, over 76% stated that cheaper flights were more important than no LNG Precinct development.

As somebody who has done some consultancy work, I decided to look at the document. I have to say that it is indeed mischievous. The report has a very, very narrow scope. It considers the LNG plant only in isolation and does not include the necessary associated industrial activity in the region to supply or support the LNG plant, the Browse Basin rigs or the export of LNG. The examples used in the report that pointed to other regions as examples of the coexistence of LNG facilities and tourism were spurious, misrepresented and, I believe, completely mischievous. Two examples of that type of coexistence are quoted in the report. One is a facility in Canada and the other is in Peru, neither of which has been built. The only documents available for that are proponent documents that say tourism and industry can coexist. However, they were cited as examples of the coexistence of tourism and industry. The Alaskan example of the region around Valdez–Cordova was also misrepresented. All members have all heard about the Exxon Valdez incident. The report refers to a tourism marketing brochure that says industry and tourism can coexist rather than the actual research evidence that shows this region is still suffering from the impact of the 18-year-old Exxon Valdez disaster. A documentary televised on the ABC last week highlighted that industry and tourism cannot coexist and that the area is extremely socially depressed and environmentally polluted.

The report cited another example on the Shetland Islands where the development of an oil terminal and supply base was developed. However, a large-scale heavy industry and a major oil spill and other industrial accidents have removed any tourism potential from that area. Those examples were used to support the analysis of the report. The report is totally and utterly flawed. The survey on which the report is based was speculative and made a number of incorrect assumptions. The report was based on a number of “what if” scenarios. It is important also to understand that this was a really flawed approach. The report provides totally misleading evidence to support the notion that an LNG hub will not impact on tourism. Interestingly, the survey was not even random. The resident and tourist survey had a very small sample size and is unlikely to validly represent the total population. Only a very small sample of Broome residents was surveyed. Only people with internet and email access who were on a previously constructed consumer confidence survey mailing list database for the Broome region were surveyed. That is not the general public.

The report makes a number of highly spurious statements. Everyone has heard of push polling. If I were to ask members which of the following is the most important to them: cheaper or more regular flights to Broome or no LNG development in the Kimberley coast, which are two questions that have no relationship whatsoever, most members would say that cheaper and more regular flights to Broome are more important to them. Therefore, on the basis of that analysis, members are going to support the LNG hub, because that will provide cheaper and more regular flights to Broome.

This was a debacle of a report. This report was done by Kadar Pearson and Partners Pty Ltd. This company has been in existence only since 2006, and it has, from my research, virtually no expertise in this area, being an agency that deals with business and industrial development in that region.

Another question was asked. Again, this was classic push polling. People were asked which of the following is the most important to them: more and better infrastructure in and around Broome, or development of an LNG precinct which is 60 kilometres from Broome. That assumes that an LNG plant will result in more and better infrastructure for tourists. It does not specify what that infrastructure is going to be. It also emphasises the distance of the hub from Broome, with no indication of the associated industrial activity in Broome or the region.

From these very flawed processes, the analysis that KPP came up with is that everybody supports the view that tourism and industry can work well together. But that is because they never actually asked the question. They put forward a load of hypothetical —

Hon ADELE FARINA: Nonsense.

Hon ROBIN CHAPPLE: Yes. These two things are totally unrelated to each other. However, the minister was quoted in The West Australian as saying that this assessment “formed a comprehensive report on the potential impacts of the construction and ongoing operation of the proposed LNG Precinct”. I suggest that the Minister, Dr Constable, should read the report and the appendices, because they itemise how the questions were formulated, and she should then turn around and say whether she accepts what is a completely and utterly flawed process.

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