AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister John Howard¹s plans to develop agricultural production in northern Austral

15 Feb, 2007 07:00 PM
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While Mr Brockman commended the PM¹s multi-million dollar water strategy and the establishment of a task force designed to examine the potential of broad-scale agriculture in the North of Australia, he warned that the committee had some large hurdles to clear in WA before farmers would seriously consider shifting north from their current locations.

³While it is clear there is plenty of water in the north, particularly in the Ord development, land tenure remains a significant barrier to developing significant industries and population centres in the north,² Mr Brockman said.

³Without security of tenure, farmers will be reluctant to relocate.

³Farming remains a generational enterprise with the sense of building wealth for the future remaining an import part of farming business decisions.

³But without secure property rights, businesses, particularly farm business, will not make the investment necessary to grow the north of WA.²

Mr Brockman said the state government¹s inability to provide security of tenure for leasehold land had also created a significant break in the development of WA¹s pastoral industry.

³Lack of land tenure, in the form of perpetual leases and freehold land, continues to be the single biggest obstacle preventing the north of WA from becoming a significant source of agricultural wealth,² he said.

State Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said the PGA had made a good point with regards to the issue of land tenure, and while the Government was aware of the problem, it had not yet developed a clear solution.

³It is important to resolve the various issues associated with land tenure in order to encourage irrigated agriculture in the north of the state,² Mr Chance said.

PGA spokesperson Geoff Gare warned of other considerations that had to be taken into account.

³Farmers also have to consider the different types of insects and diseases that are generated by the growing conditions in the Pilbara and Gascoyne region and what the costs will be to tackle them effectively.²

³The pests in the north throw up a whole new set of challenges for farmers and need to be thoroughly considered before any move is possible.²

Mr Gare said the PGA needed to see a lot more positive detail of the government¹s water reform proposal before taking it seriously.

He said there had been a number of reports written in recent times designed to address water shortage problems but lamented the lack of action they had generated.

³There have been so many reports written over the years no one really seems to take much notice of them any more and have become blaze towards them,² he said.

³PGA is normally fully supportive of this type of project but for now we would need to see a lot more detail on proposals for the logistics, infrastructure and environmental concerns before giving it our full approval.²

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