- Fresh water flows from $322million channel at Kununurra
- MOU to extend Ord project into Northern Territory
Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett and Regional Development and Lands Minister Brendon Grylls today attended the opening of the 31km main irrigation channel, centrepiece of the Ord expansion project at Kununurra.
The channel is part of a $322million State Government investment - including $311million through Royalties for Regions - to deliver key infrastructure for the second stage of the Ord Irrigation Scheme and to service future expansion into the Northern Territory.
The channel will supply water to 13,400ha of land to be developed by Kimberley Agricultural Investment (KAI), the State Government’s preferred proponent to lease and develop the land for farming. KAI is an Australian company wholly owned by Shanghai ZhongFu (Group) Co.
The company proposes to invest $700million to establish a sustainable large-scale sugar industry, including a refinery with power co-generation and major upgrade to Wyndham Port.
Mr Barnett said the opening of the main irrigation channel was a major step towards the East Kimberley reaching its full potential.
“This channel is the backbone of the Ord expansion. It is vital to the success of agricultural development for the East Kimberley and northern Australia,” he said.
During the visit, the Premier, Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills and Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean signed a memorandum of understanding on the proposed extension of the Ord irrigation area into the Northern Territory.
Mr Barnett this week acknowledged the significant role the Miriuwung and Gajerrong peoples had played in the development of the project and the future benefits they would realise under the agreement as they become landholders in their own right.
The Premier also acknowledged the Federal Government’s $195million investment in the region under a national partnership agreement with the State Government, which will deliver education, health and other community services to Kununurra, Wyndham and surrounding communities.
Mr Grylls said Western Australia had the knowledge and skills to deliver a world-class project even though development in the East Kimberley presented many engineering challenges.
“Bringing the Ord expansion to fruition has been a very complex task. The fact Ord Stage One was established decades ago reminds us of how difficult the challenge has been,” he said.
“I congratulate Leighton Contractors for their work in completing the channel and maximising local opportunities with Aboriginal involvement.
“The State Government has the opportunity to work with KAI, the traditional owners and local business to make the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project one of the Australian north’s most important developments.”
During the next six months, the Government and KAI will finalise contract negotiations and KAI must also obtain all relevant approvals and funding for associated infrastructure.
The Government retains ownership of the irrigation channel and other infrastructure developed as part of the Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project, including nine kilometres of secondary irrigation channels and a workers’ village accommodating 252 employees. A 40km network of new roads will be transferred to the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley.
Ord Stage One opened in 1972
New irrigation channels to supply 3,350 megalitres of fresh water - equal to 8,000 standard backyard swimming pools - from the Ord River each day
Ord-East Kimberley Expansion Project is a State Govt initiative to deliver economic development, social and cultural prosperity to people of the East Kimberley
East Kimberley Development Package, signed between the Federal and State governments in Kununurra in 2009, to deliver 29 community and economic infrastructure projects in East Kimberley region
Premier’s office - 6552 5000
Regional Development Minister’s office - 6552 5500