The Liberal-National Government’s expansion of the Ord irrigation area into a world-class agricultural precinct was formally supported by the Federal Government in Kununurra today, with the signing of the National Partnership Agreement for the East Kimberley Development Package.
Premier Colin Barnett signed the agreement that will see the State’s $220million contribution complemented by $195million in Federal funding for community infrastructure.
The Premier, Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls and the Prime Minister also opened the pumping for flow of the Manbijim channel (formerly Green Swamp), marking significant progress in the Ord project.
“Expansion of the Ord is an important project that has stalled for many years. I am proud to be leading a government which has made a strong decision, moved ahead and is actually delivering a project that will have significant long-term benefits for Western Australia,” Mr Barnett said.
“The State’s work on the Ord and surrounding areas will not only provide for WA’s agricultural future, but also support projects that stimulate job opportunities, education and training for indigenous people in the East Kimberley.
“Our aim is to see Kununurra emerge as a major regional city with a vibrant economy founded on agriculture and eco and cultural tourism.
“The Federal Government’s support of our work is recognition of the importance and soundness of the State’s commitments and plans for the region.
“We are providing better government for a better State.”
In March this year the State Government started earthworks on the district’s main (M1) water supply channel. On completion, the project will ultimately double the Ord irrigation area to 28,000ha, with the first release of the new agricultural blocks expected by 2011-12 following environmental approvals.
Initial work on the M1 channel will start during this year’s dry season with the major extension expected to be completed about April 2010.
Mr Grylls said the National Agreement supported the State’s focus on regional development through the Royalties for Regions program as well as indigenous development in the area.
“The signing of this agreement bolsters the Liberal-National Government’s strong commitment to regional WA,” Mr Grylls said.
“The Liberal-National Government’s projects for the Ord and to help the Miriuwung Gajerrong (MG) people include building a health education unit program, aimed at preserving Miriuwung and Gajerrong language and the employment of youth workers.
“They have helped lay the foundation for the injection of Federal Government support to have a real and positive effect.
“We want to make sure that as the Ord project grows and Kununurra heads towards regional city status, that we foster every opportunity for the MG people to be an integral part of the development.”
Office of the Premier - 9222 9475
Office of the Minister for Regional Development - 9213 7000