Minister spruiks amalgamation
The State Government’s new super departments will be a boon for regional industries, according to Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
Premier Mark McGowan announced the State’s 41 departments would be slashed to 25 last week. This included the amalgamation of regional development, development commissions, fisheries, and agriculture and food.
Speaking in Karratha on Friday, Ms MacTiernan said the amalgamations were the precursor to more people delivering government services in regional WA.
“Under the Liberals and Nationals we had agriculture split over four different portfolios because of the green on blue wars,” she said.
“In the Pilbara for example, at the moment in agriculture you only have one person doing biosecurity, not driving the changes we need to make in our rangelands, agriculture and horticulture.
“Areas like ag and fisheries, which are overwhelmingly regional, are going to play an increasingly important part in the diversification for regional economies.”
Ms MacTiernan said the amalgamations would attract a higher skill level to regional WA.
Western Australian Fishing Industry Council acting chief executive Alex Ogg said the amalgamations could decrease the ability of the Department of Fisheries to regulate marine resources.
“WAFIC was disappointed at news that the Fisheries Department is to be relegated as a standalone agency and instead will be combined with other departments in the new Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development,” Mr Ogg said.
“With the promise of government restructure clear in Labor’s pre-election platform, WAFIC has lobbied hard for the retention of the Department of Fisheries as a standalone agency.
“Queensland had a similar experience some years ago when its Fisheries Department was amalgamated with the Department of Agriculture, with deleterious result.” Mr Ogg said a conversation with WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly had eased some of the industry’s concerns.
The creation of the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, which groups together attractions including national parks, Kings Park, Rottnest Island and Perth Zoo, was welcomed by Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall.
“By combining our State’s important public attractions into one department, there will be a greater ability to present the best Western Australia has to offer, in turn attracting more visitors and preserving jobs,” he said.
Mr Hall said it was important to ensure Tourism WA became a market-focused organisation.
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan takes questions in Karratha.