AGRICULTURE and Food Minister Ken Baston has ruled out moving DAFWA’s headquarters to Northam, but said there was a focus to base more department staff in regional areas.
“DAFWA management plans to relocate relevant functions that can better or equally be delivered from regional centres – in Northam, Geraldton, Bunbury, Albany and Katanning,” Mr Baston said.
“Work is underway which could see Northam become our centre for grains with around 70 additional staff.
“DAFWA has a State-wide footprint and 42 per cent of staff are currently in regional areas.
“With the government plans for regional relocation, along with recruitment, the ratio of staff regionally to the urban area should reach 50:50 or beyond by the end of 2016.”
Mr Baston said government was reviewing plans to build a new $140m biosecurity laboratory and $100m office block to replace the 1950s-era office in South Perth and under current plans the new facilities would be occupied by 2020/21.
Mr Baston said a range of site options, including Northam, had been considered by governments over the past decade, but it was clear that to attract and retain the right skills set, at least half of the staff would need to be based in the metropolitan area.
“The new development would occupy about 25pc of the current footprint, with the remainder of the land to be sold or redeveloped for other purposes,” he said.
“The net value of the land has been estimated to be somewhere in the vicinity of $30m after remediation.”
Mr Baston said the redevelopment of the DAFWA headquarters would be dominated by world-class science laboratories, high security diagnostic laboratories and office facilities for core policy and management functions.