Red tape holds up north­ern jobs

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Cally Dupe

State Gov­ern­ment red tape is hold­ing up job cre­ation and up to $350 mil­lion in pri­vate in­vest­ment in WA’s north, ac­cord­ing to a group of lead­ing pas­toral­ists.

Yeeda Pas­toral Com­pany man­ager Jack Bur­ton said vast tracts of the re­gion were ear­marked for ir­ri­gated agri­cul­ture by Gov­ern­ment, but ap­provals had stalled.

“There’s around $350 mil­lion in pri­vate in­vest­ment just sit­ting there . . . about 500 jobs in limbo . . . prob­a­bly $100 mil­lion a year in an­nual in­come,” he said.

“Some­thing is bro­ken, the pol­i­tics is all pro-de­vel­op­ment and pro-jobs but it all seems to come to some kind of wall be­cause of bu­reau­cracy.”

Mr Bur­ton has ap­plied to clear 1240ha of land for ir­ri­gated and dry­land fod­der at Kilto Sta­tion, near Broome, to feed cat­tle at the re­gion’s only abat­toir.

But he said his ap­pli­ca­tion for a wa­ter li­cence had been held up, with plans to ex­tract eight gi­gal­itres a year from the Fitzroy River in limbo since 2014.

“When you do the sums and see the knock-on ef­fect, it cer­tainly goes a long way,” he said.

“The biggest prob­lem in the Kim­ber­ley is un­em­ploy­ment, but here we are with not one Gov­ern­ment dol­lar needed to get peo­ple em­ployed per­ma­nently.

“If we were wait­ing to get $100 mil­lion in Gov­ern­ment fund­ing, it would be dif­fer­ent. But this is purely a bit of black ink on a few doc­u­ments.”

Cat­tle sta­tions across the Kim­ber­ley and Pil­bara are await­ing an­swers for wa­ter and graz­ing li­cences, clear­ing per­mits and free­hold ap­pli­ca­tions.

This in­cludes GoGo, Mowan­jum, Anna Plains, Nita Downs, Fra­zier Downs, Roe­buck Plains, Kilto, Coun­try Downs, Yeeda, Wal­lal, Par­doo and She­la­mar.

Skuthorpe Hor­ti­cul­tural Area, near Broome, is also await­ing wa­ter and clear­ing per­mits to ex­pand its ex­ist­ing hor­ti­cul­tural op­er­a­tion.

Mr Bur­ton said cur­rent land clear­ing ap­pli­ca­tions in the Kim­ber­ley ac­counted for less than one per cent of the re­gion’s to­tal land mass.

At Mowan­jum sta­tion, near Derby, the first cen­tre pivot was com­mis­sioned in 2015 and more than 200 tonnes of hay and silage was cut in March last year.

But the Abo­rig­i­nal-owned project’s ap­pli­ca­tion to ex­pand its clear­ing foot­print by 147ha, to a to­tal 223ha, was knocked back by the DER late last year.

The sta­tion is also seek­ing 4100ha of free­hold over crown land, which cur­rently falls un­der the Mowan­jum Pas­toral Lease, to ex­pand pro­duc­tion.

Mowan­jum Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Austin said limited com­mu­ni­ca­tion had made progress and job cre­ation for in­dige­nous peo­ple dif­fi­cult.

New WA Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan said she un­der­stood pas­toral­ists’ frus­tra­tion and would ad­vo­cate for de­vel­op­ment. “Now is the time . . . (pas­toral) di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion is es­sen­tial now,” she said.

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