Manjimup ideal for centre
It is a “no-brainer” to establish the Rural Fire Division’s Centre of Excellence in Manjimup, according to the shire president.
The $18 million centre would enhance volunteer training and develop new initiatives in fighting bushfires by “leveraging local knowledge and bushfire science and research”, according to a statement by State Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan earlier this year about the Rural Fire Division.
Manjimup shire president Paul Omodei said the Manjimup Shire Council submitted an expression of interest about three months ago when it was announced the State Government would be accepting bids for the location of the centre.
“Our official submission is imminent — in about two weeks — and we’re just finalising a location,” he said.
“It’s a no-brainer to have the centre here in Manjimup.”
Cr Omodei said reasons why Manjimup should be the location of the Centre of Excellence included the fact the shire was 86 per cent forests, whether it was State, National or reserve.
“If you went in a 50km radius of this area, we have all different forest types,” he said.
“We have a regional Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions office and Forest Products Commission, as well as land adjacent to those organisations.
“We also have high-quality education, housing and recreational facilities. There’s also a Department of Fire and Emergency Services office and an airport that has helipads — this is the logical place.”
Cr Omodei said he hoped the State Government also considered the fact the recent demise of two of
The manager of Manjimup Backpackers believes the rise of illegal camping and share houses in the area may mean the end for his business.
Abdul Haidari said he was struggling to get anyone to stay at his accommodation despite the Manjimup Shire Council predicting the arrival of 500 seasonal workers in the district this year.
“I’ve only had five to seven people here at a time at most for about five months now,” he said.
“This is significantly less than last year when I had about 25 people at a time, which is the minimum I need to just get by.”
Manjimup shire president Paul Omodei said the council would be policing illegal camping after the season picked up.
“We will be using our ranger system to police it all and will put on extra rangers at peak season if we find a lot of people are doing it,” he said.
However, Cr Omodei said he did not think they would have a need for the extra rangers. Mr Haidari said he believed the area was the worst when it came to seasonal workers staying in illegal accommodation.
“I think Manjimup is absolutely the worst place for this kind of thing, because Bunbury, Margaret River, places like that don’t have the same kind of problems,” he said.
“They camp in the hotel carpark sometimes and if someone accidentally leaves the doors open they come straight through to use my toilet and take showers and everything and then they just leave.”
Mr Haidari also said any new accommodation in the area was unnecessary and helping pre-existing businesses by stopping illegal lodgings was the best way to improve the community. “This is for everybody,” he said. “Help me, help the farmers, help the backpackers, it’s not just one person who benefits.”
Mr Haidari said he would be meeting with the Cr Omodei to discuss the matter further.