Slugcatcher: Shame on the LA Times

Golden bandicoots, burrowing bettongs, and the fat-tailed marsupial mouse are not a conventional topic of conversation in the Australian oil and gas industry – but they ought to be because they are three animals that partly owe their survival to oil.
Slugcatcher: Shame on the LA Times Slugcatcher: Shame on the LA Times Slugcatcher: Shame on the LA Times Slugcatcher: Shame on the LA Times Slugcatcher: Shame on the LA Times

Anyone familiar with the history of Barrow Island off the coast of WA can tell you a little about the bandicoots, bettongs and native mice. They are thick on the ground, and even come wandering into the settlement at night.

The sight of golden bandicoots and big-booted oilmen going about their business without disturbing each other is one of the most remarkable events anywhere in Australia – and it needs to be told by the oil industry before it is stolen by the unbelievably cynical environmental movement.

What raised Slugcatcher’s blood pressure to boiling point was a seemingly innocuous comment in the Los Angeles Times on August 2 about Barrow Island being “Australia’s ark”.

The article, which sparked a series of follow-ups in Australia was written by an LA Times staff writer. It discussed Barrow, plans to produce LNG from the Gorgon gasfield on the island, and the potential environment problems with the scheme in both Australia, and at possible LNG receival sites in California.

Slugcatcher reckons that all of those topics deserve airing because they are important.

But what drove him wild was the glib way in which the Barrow Island “ark” was discussed and the observation that the Conservation Council of Western Australia had spent years studying Gorgon “including its potential effects on the rare species living on Barrow Island”.

Give us a break!

How the hell do you think so many rare and endangered species have survived on Barrow Island in the first place?

Because it was the very oil industry now being criticised which saved them.

If in doubt, go to any other island off the north west coast. There is virtually no native fauna because the creatures have been either eaten by feral cats, shot by visiting fishermen, or killed by imported disease.

Barrow is an ark because ChevronTexaco, and its partners in the old WA Petroleum joint venture, preserved the island. They protected habitats, they confined their oil operations to the smallest footprint possible, they paid for exhaustive studies and they sacked, on the spot, any worker disturbing a native animal.

Of all those points the one the greenies, and apparently the LA Times, fails to grasp is that it was oil which paid for the studies, employed people like Harry Butler to devise a management plan, and saved an island from the ravages inflicted elsewhere along the coast.

Where, it might reasonably be asked, were the bloody greenies then?

For the environmental movement to trot around the world now saying Barrow Island is an “ark” and the oil industry should not be allowed to process gas on a small section of the island is an outrage.

These people are classic oxygen thieves. They did nothing in the 1960s and 70s when WA Petroleum was saving rare and endangered species. They said nothing in the 80s and 90s when Barrow became a world-class example of how to protect nature – and suddenly they claim the credit.

Little wonder that the green movement, which should attract more support than it does, leaves so many people thinking that it is run by extremists who not only misrepresent and over-sell their arguments, but who fail the simple courtesies of acknowledging what others have done, and even go so far as to claim false credit.

Shame on the greenies, and a shame on the LA Times for not doing its homework.

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