AN end of an era has come to pass for the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), with it no longer a standalone department.
The Labor Government’s public sector restructure officially came into effect on July 1, meaning the department now falls under the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), along with Fisheries, Regional Development and the nine Regional Development Commissions.
Upon winning the 2017 State election, Premier Mark McGowan announced there would be an amalgamation of several government departments in April, as part of plans to reduce the public sector by 40 per cent.
Mr McGowan said reducing the public sector from 41 State Government departments to 25 will drive efficiency and assist in repairing the Budget.
“The renewal of the public sector will allow a smaller number of departments to work effectively together to deliver for all Western Australians,” Mr McGowan said.
“This is the most significant reform of the public sector for a long time.”
Former Minister for Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan is now WA’s Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, while Ralph Addis is DPIRD’s acting director general.
The Liberal Party has decided to keep its shadow ministry unchanged.
Ian Blayney MLA will remain as Liberal spokesperson for Agriculture and Food, Fisheries and Forestry, while Jim Chown MLC will retain his position as Liberal spokesperson for Regional Development and Royalties for Regions.
Mr Chown said the Liberal Party would wait until the transition period was complete before deciding whether to change its shadow ministry structure.
“At this stage there’s no point in changing because until the amalgamation has taken place from a departmental level and they seem to be able to work in an efficient manner, why would you comply to any change at all,” he said.
“The massive changes to the relevant departments is going to cost an enormous amount of money and they will take time to bed in to where they’ll be able to responsibly go about their business.”
Mr Addis said the new agency would capitalise on opportunities to collaborate, and planned to deliver a strong, well-equipped service.
“The new department is committed to all its stakeholders and will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting the growth and prosperity of the agriculture and fisheries industries, as well as regional communities,” Mr Addis said.
“While the name has changed and all staff are now working for the one department, the transition process to fully integrate the systems and services will take a phased approach over the next 12 months or so.
“During this time it will be business as usual for most of our staff, who will continue to work closely with valued industry and community partners.”
Mr Addis said stakeholders across the various industry sectors and regions would be kept well informed about developments during the transition process and were encouraged to keep the lines of communication open.
“This process provides us with a unique opportunity to build a new modern, innovative and relevant public service agency that both meets the needs of current clients, as well as opens up opportunities to pursue greater benefits for the State in the future.”