The McGowan Government has welcomed the Auditor General's report on pastoral lands, which highlights the failures of the former Liberal National Government to ensure sustainability in the rangelands.
While the fragility of Western Australia's pastoral lands has been evident for decades, the report notes a dramatic reduction in monitoring and research since 2009 has contributed to a lack of understanding about land conditions at a lease level.
A number of recommendations from the report have already commenced implementation by the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH) and the Pastoral Lands Board (PLB), including:
Finalising a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to service provision to the PLB from both DPLH and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD);
Assisting the PLB to draft a policy on the interpretation of ecological sustainability in the context of pastoral land, with supporting guidance for pastoral managers on good practice land management; and
Engaging at director general level with DPIRD, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in relation to interagency approvals processes for diversified economic activities on pastoral land.
The McGowan Government is committed to sustainable development and diversification of pastoral lands, with further details on future consultations to be announced in coming weeks.
Comments attributed to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
"This report is cause for deep concern; once again we are seeing the harmful impacts of the Liberals and Nationals' deep cuts to agricultural research.
"The former government set ambitious targets for doubling production on pastoral lands and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on overseas travel developing markets - all the while cutting back on the fundamental monitoring and research needed to ensure our lands were in a condition to sustain productivity increases.
"Our government is committed to sustainable development of pastoral lands, working in consultation with industry, native title holders and pastoral stakeholders."
Comments attributed to Lands Minister Rita Saffioti:
"After the mess the previous government has made of this, we are committed to delivering improved rangeland outcomes through Pastoral Lands Reform.
"I have already tasked the Pastoral Lands Board to undertake consultations with pastoral lease holders which includes policy development; regulatory improvement and potential statutory change with the aim that this will increase economic diversification, streamline approval processes and security of tenure.
"We are currently exploring opportunities to increase the level and effectiveness of monitoring along with recording and dissemination of outcomes.
"This may include better utilisation of technology coupled with partnering with stakeholder or local groups (for example Aboriginal ranger programs) to improve the effectiveness of the monitoring regime."
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