Efforts to link the Miriuwung Gagerrong (MG) people into the long-term benefits of the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion project took a major step forward this week at a special meeting in Kununurra between the MG Board and Regional Development and Lands Minister Brendon Grylls.
The meeting paved the way for a series of workshops that will shape an Aboriginal Development Package to outline how MG people will participate in the exciting expansion project. This includes the management and operation of new farmland endowed to traditional owners under the Ord Final Agreement of 2005.
Mr Grylls, who flew to Kununurra for the day to kick-start a new round of negotiations, said the State Government was committed to ensuring the benefits of the Ord Final Agreement were realised by MG people.
“There are great opportunities for participation and partnership,” he said.
“It is my strong desire that, in partnership with the MG people, we will soon be in a position to agree on some detail about indigenous employment and a wide range of other participation options that focus on the Ord expansion delivering lasting benefits to this and future generations of MG people.
“I want nothing less than the full engagement of MG people into the roll-out of broader community engagement plans.”
The Minister also met with the Ord Community Reference Group, established earlier this year which includes Elaine Gardiner (chair),Tim Croot (deputy chair), Edna O’Malley (representing MG), David Menzel, Lachlan Dobson, Jeff Gooding and Peter Stubbs.
“I am pleased with the way the Ord Community Reference Group plans to work with the local community to keep them informed and include them in the process of the Ord expansion program,” he said.
“Not only have we established a Community Reference Group, but we’ve also established a series of special purpose task groups to consider the more specific issues related to the Weaber Plains and M2 development, the Ord West Bank, Mantinea and Packsaddle and the related community and social infrastructure needed.
The task groups are chaired by David Menzel, Lachlan Dobson and Peter Stubbs respectively and involve a wide range of industry and community representatives including Peter Cottle, Tony Chafer, Gabi Bloecker, Paul Mock, Ralph Addis, Robert Boshammer, Michele Pucci, Helen Gerard, Ian Oliver, Chris Robinson, Suzanne Smith, Lincoln Heading and Geoff Strickland.
The Community Reference Group briefed the Minister on a Government agency forum they had initiated which included a number of government departments such as the Department of Water, Main Roads WA and LandCorp as well as Telstra and land, environment and town planning experts.
“The Government agency workshop we organised this week provided us with some critical information on many important project development matters and allowed us the opportunity to influence and help shape how the development unfolds,” Mrs Gardiner said
“Our input to how road standards, communications, power and land release are to be managed has already been taken on board by the Government agencies. More of that will follow as we extend our influence into other aspects of the project.
“We are all keen to input into Government project planning and help feedback to and from the broader community on progress and key issues. One of these is how the agri-business and local employment opportunities that are becoming available will draw in and provide indigenous benefits - a matter on which our group and the task groups will focus specific attention.
“We expect to be in a position to hold the first of a series of community meetings on June 15 in Kununurra.”
Mr Grylls said the Ord was a major project with extensive infrastructure and community aspects that had the State and Federal governments proceeding in partnership.
“The third dimension of that partnership is the community. It is only by imbedding the whole community into the project development process that we will ensure the benefits of this crucial nation-building project can be fully realised,” he said.
“The establishment of the Community Reference Group structure, its engagement with key agencies of Government, as well as the MG traditional owners and the broader community, coupled with its leadership of the planned community sessions, are important steps in our journey.”
Minister's office: 9213 7000