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Broome Diocese applauds WA Govt cotton decision

Coordinator of the Broome Diocesan Office of Justice, Ecology & Peace, Br Shane Wood, has welcomed the decision by the State Government not to renew the Memorandum of Understanding with the proponent of cotton trials in the Kimberley.

The ABC reports that Kimberley environmentalists are celebrating the Western Australian Government's decision to block plans for a large-scale cotton industry near Broome. Over the past six years, Western Agricultural Industries (WAI) has been working on establishing 200,000 hectares of commercial crops based on genetically modified cotton.

Br Wood (pictured) said in a statement yesterday: "This is a win for democracy, the local people and the environment."

He said that local people, especially the traditional owners of the land in the trial area, have been opposed to the trials from the beginning and have told the proponent and the Government as much on several occasions.

"At last they have been heard," he said. "They know as well as anyone the limited capacity of their country to support intensive farming and high water usage. And all of us know the terrible devastation caused by the cotton industry in other parts of Australia less fragile than the Kimberley."

"There is no doubt that there needs to be another industry base for the region other than tourism - which is seasonal and perhaps not sustainable. We certainly need a means of providing meaningful employment for local young people into the future, and perhaps a sustainable and suitable agricultural industry will be the way to go.

"We now need both major political parties to commit themselves to a transparent inclusive consultative process should they win government in the coming election. The next government needs to involve the whole community of the region in some creative, informed and practical planning for the sustainable future of the Kimberley," Br Wood concluded.

Office applauds Government decision over cotton (Diocese of Broome Office of Justice, Ecology and Peace 17/8/04)

Green groups celebrate cotton crop win (ABC 12/8/04)
State Govt cancels WAI cotton agreement (ABC 13/8/04)
Kimberley Cotton: Battle lines drawn (ABC TV Stateline 18/6/04)
Diocese of Broome

18 Aug 2004