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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
PM Rudd's green front man Garrett goes hoarse on 2,000 barrels a day oil pollution
Mood:  down
Topic: aust govt



What gall of the Australian Govt. They parade their concern for the coast from rising ocean waters while a 2000 barrel a day oil gusher pollutes north west Australia and neighbouring Indonesia/West Timor.

Till now industry and Govt have masqueraded behind claims of a much smaller 400 barrels a day problem. That got blown away by this strong work by Greens Senator Siewart in Senate Estimates Committee last week here (bold added):

Oil spill likely to be much larger - Dept backs Greens' claims
MEDIA RELEASE - Thursday 22 October 2009

Information revealed during questioning at a Senate Estimates hearing indicates that the amount of oil leaking from the Montara wellhead may be much higher than the company's estimates.

Yesterday (Wed 21/10/09), under questioning by Greens' Marine Issues Spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert, Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism officials said that PTTEP had given them no basis for their 400-barrels-day figure, and their own calculations based on Geoscience Australia data suggested a rate of around 2,000 barrels-a-day, plus condensate.

Using PTTEP's own documents and data from similar wellheads nearby, independent analysis sourced by the Greens in the weeks following the spill calculated that the Montara wellhead may be leaking up to 3,000 barrels of oil-a-day into the Timor Sea off Australia's north-west coast.

This calculation was disputed by the Rudd Government, with Federal Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett later saying the real figure was just 300 to 400 barrels-a-day (see

Despite requests by the Greens, there has been no explanation of the basis of this figure.
"It is clear that we can have no confidence in the estimates by the company and I must ask why the Government chose to support the company's estimates rather than the Department's estimates," Senator Rachel Siewert said.

"It is clear a thorough and comprehensive inquiry is needed into this spill.

"If the oil had continued to leak at this rate over the two months since the accident on 21 August, this would suggest that up to 20 million litres of oil could have leaked into the Timor Sea.

"However, given the drop-off in the observed rate of oil leakage in the first weeks of the spill reported by AMSA, we might expect that the total amount of oil spilled could be lower, perhaps around 10 million litres.

"This puts the Montara oil spill clearly up there in the top three worst oil spills in Australia's history," concluded Senator Siewert.


Minister Garrett by our reckoning has been bought off in a policy sense to go quiet on the disaster at West Atlas rig. But before that he was already dancing around the giant Gorgon gas project threat to a class A nature reserve at Barrow Island in the Kimberley:  

Garrett decision on Gorgon means destruction for environment spacer 26th August 2009 EST

The Australian Greens today slammed the decision by the Minister for Environment Peter Garrett to allow the Gorgon development to go ahead on Barrow Island, saying he is signing off on the destruction of this unique environment. "There is no way that the environment of Barrow Island can be protected ... Greens MPs - 11:49 a.m. Wednesday  26th August 2009 EST

Garrett broke into the press and tv news soon after this criticism by rivals, to offset the Gorgon sell out at Barrow Island,  with a very big NT Indigenous Reserve and employment package in a remote region: 

New agreement to conserve Indigenous land, , Broadcast: 28/09/2009 , Reporter: Murray McLaughlin

at http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2009/s2698918.htm

The NT land apparently was not under any direct level of threat but a good news story to be sure. Very uplifting if it wasn't to run interference on the Gorgon sellout. Almost as if Garrett had to be thrown a reward by Rudd Cabinet for his loyalty on Gorgon/Barrow Island.

With the Green Party running hard on both Gorgon/Barrow and West Atlas oil spill as exemplar of threat to all of the Kimberley the Govt started backgrounding against The Greens about their so called 'exageration and hyperbole'. Heavyweight Laurie Oakes slammed the Greens in print here

Greens senator Rachel Siewert exaggerates West Atlas oil spill ... 4 Sep 2009

only for the veteran Oakes to get egg on his face as per the Estimates Committee evidence last week with official backing for the Greens metric of 2,000 barrels of oil spilled per day. Sheepishly Oakes had Greens Leader Bob Brown on his tv show in a balancer/mea culpa last Sunday on Today 9 (October 25th 09).

People have noticed how Garrett is so selective now, and so quiet after the West Atlas oil spill disaster.

 West Atlas oil spill | Garrett maintains oil spill has had no "significant" effect 2 Oct 2009


Rudd defends time taken to address oil spill October 27, 2009 - 6:02PM

Garrett wasn't always captured as he is in his new ALP ministry job. Notice above the protest label on his 1992 music cassette EXXON OIL MAKES US SICK. To understand how the PR choreography works notice this chronology based on open source big media reports all available from google:

West Atlas oil pollution disaster: Chronology of a political sellout of the environment:


30 April – WA state Environmental Agency provisional approval to $50B Gorgon gas deal off Kimberley coast

10 August  - WA state Govt approves Gorgon gas project

19 August 4 am – oil spill begins 250km off the far north Kimberley coast in Western Australia and 150km south-east of the Ashmore Reef at West Atlas, operated by Norway's Seadrill for PTTEP Australasia. The gusher is several hundred metres below on the ocean bottom

22 August – 69 workers evacuate West Altas oil rig.

26 August – Federal Minister Garrett waves through Gorgon multi billion decision for Barrow Island off Kimberley Coast with undue

28 August – Senator Siewart Greens flyover and pictures of oil spill West Atlas/Montara oil leak starts off Kimberley Coast

28 August – Federal minister Garrett announces 2 million hectare national park in remote Arnhem Land in Northern Territory with strong involvement of Indigenous traditional owners. The level of threat is low compared to the extreme threat of the West Atlas oil spill. National media coverage results.

4 September - Laurie Oakes slur on Greens for ‘exagerating’ oil spill, runs nationally in all News Corp newspapers based on dishonest industry govt backgrounding

21 October – Senate Estimates evidence from Federal Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism officials said that PTTEP had given them no basis for their 400-barrels-day figure, and their own calculations based on Geoscience Australia data suggested a rate of around 2,000 barrels-a-day, plus condensate.

25 October – Veteran journalist Oakes redeems himself in part with Green Leader Bob Brown on Today 9 Sunday show profile balancer on various issues including West Atlas oil leak.

27 October – Federal Govt release report to national media coverage on climate change sea level rise threat to coastal development – an issue well understood for over a year.



The latest report on rising sea level insurance problems might be renamed "Bipartisan PR interference support for Gorgon at Barrow, West Atlas oil spill"?

One thing is apparent: Garrett as a former rock and roll front man can sing anybody's PR song. Just tell him the words. He can even turn the microphone off if that's what you need.

And now we have discovered this evening that the ABC public broadcaster website called Unleashed have preferred to censor the gist of the above information about the Garrett PR quid pro quo. Their article is here below, but our comment inclusive of the strong presser by the Greens re Senate evidence of rate of spillage at West Atlas, and Gorgon/Barrow airbrush is censored off the comment string. So much for "diverse and robust opinion":

The same author of the Unleashed article Ms Llewellyn of WWF group - who also understates the barrels of oil spillage per day - is similarly published recently on the private Crikey.com.au ezine and there they allow genuine robust comment string on Garrett's role:

 Monday, 26 October 2009 / 12 comments Our quietly spreading Exxon Valdez in the Timor Sea

Crikey allow the Greens presser of evidence in Estimates and the choreography of the NT reservation in the face of sacrificing Barrow Island to Gorgon.

Posted by editor at 10:41 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 October 2009 9:45 AM NZT

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