The State Government today called for strong industry and community input to help finalise a long-term policy to manage Western Australia’s rangelands.
Primary Industry Minister Monty House, Regional Development Minister Hendy Cowan, and Lands Minister George Cash are overseeing the development of a whole-of-Government policy for the rangelands.
A draft Government Policy Statement - ‘Managing the Rangelands’ - was released today for public comment and to stimulate discussion with pastoral, mining, Aboriginal, conservation, local government and agribusiness interests.
“Developing a successful policy hinges on active input from communities and industries involved in using the rangelands,” the Ministers said.
“It is important that the Government has a responsible set of principles and arrangements to address the commercial, environmental and social issues of the rangelands.”
It is the first time such a statement has been prepared and aims to address the special challenges facing the rangelands.
These include the difficulties of community isolation, security of land tenure, flexibility of land use, the development of alternative industries and physical and seasonal constraints on industries such as beef and wool.
“The rangelands cover 85 per cent of WA, produce most of the State’s mineral and energy wealth and support large beef and wool industries,” Mr House said.
Some of the main issues facing the pastoral industry include encouraging alternative land use such as horticulture, the economic viability of some pastoral businesses, threats posed by introduced animals, plants or diseases, a mechanism to remove land not suited to pastoral production and natural resource management.
Other key issues include tourism, mining and petroleum activities on pastoral land, security of land tenure under the Commonwealth Native Title Act, Commonwealth Government support for regional development programs, support measures for Aboriginal communities, development of commercial enterprises on Aboriginal lands, mechanisms to encourage regional development, conservation of biological diversity, tourism, and social adjustment issues.
The draft policy statement outlines these issues and others in more detail.
Public comment is open until November 30, 1995. Submissions should be sent to Brian Gabbedy at the Department of Agriculture, Baron-Hay Court, South Perth: fax: (09) 474 3759 or phone (09) 368 3719.
Copies of the draft Policy Statement are available from Mr Gabbedy.
Mr House said once a rangelands policy statement was developed, it would put a number of regions in a better position to participate in the new Rural Partnership Program recently established by the Federal Government.
The Rural Partnership Program has been designed to help rural communities take advantage of a range of government assistance schemes with a minimum of ‘red tape’.
The Gascoyne/Murchison region has been chosen for a pilot case to develop a regional strategy under the Rural Partnership Program.
Mr House said a steering committee of local people would soon be announced to oversee the development of the regional strategy.
The Minister said the Government’s policy on the rangelands and the subsequent Gascoyne Murchison initiative heralded a new era of co-operation between the community and private sector and Government.
Media contact: Will Henwood 481 2044 or 041 9901500
Department of Agriculture: Brian Gabbedy (09) 368 3719