Windidda lease forfeited

27 Apr, 2005 08:45 PM
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THE Windidda Aboriginal Community (WAC) has forfeited their pastoral lease of Windidda station.

The 355,000ha pastoral property, east of Wiluna, was found to be in a seriously run down condition in February, with a number of stock perishing and others left without adequate water.

The announcement was made last week by Planning and Infrastructure minister Alannah MacTiernan, who said that the property would remain in control of the Pastoral Lands Board (PLB) until further arrangements were made.

"There have been problems at Windidda dating back to 1996, and in light of the recent situation, forfeiture is the only responsible course of action," Ms MacTiernan said.

According to the minister, the lease was in the name of the Ngangganawili Community Inc, which is no longer a legal entity.

Following the discovery of mismanagement in February, WAC were investigated by the PLB, who then passed their recommendation on the future of the station to Ms MacTiernan.

"I am not satisfied that the WAC has the ability to run a pastoral lease at this stage," she said.

Despite this, Ms MacTiernan has granted a license to WAC for the next 12 months, allowing them to graze while alternative tenure arrangements are made.

"Our inspections have shown that only 80 cattle can be reliably provided for with current infrastructure," Ms MacTiernan said.

"This is not an adequate basis for a pastoral lease."

An agreement on the land tenure will be sought by a party consisting of members of the State Government and the WAC.

WAC spokesperson Allan Ashwin said that the community welcomed the opportunity to continue grazing, as they rely heavily on the station.

"The decision to continue the community's occupancy of the property and retention of a modest number of grazing cattle, while the working party considers options for the future tenure, is both welcome and important," Mr Ashwin said.

"Our people depend on the station for employment and sustenance, and we will be assisting the working party in all possible ways with making the necessary repairs and returning the station to viability."

So far, the RSPCA have mustered 1818 cattle from Windidda to Geraldton, where they were sold.

Around 300 cattle currently remain on the property, with further de-stocking expected to continue.

The money from the sale of the cattle, after all expenses had been accounted for, was channelled back into the Windidda community.

RSPCA spokesperson Kelly Oversby said that they are in the midst of building their case against the community.

"We are currently collecting full witness statements from the area, and are building a corporate case," she said.

According to Ms Oversby, it will be some time before the RSPCA has finished building their case against WAC.

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