DAFWA review delayed

DAFWA review delayed


Agribusiness
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A REVIEW of the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) has been pushed back a further six months, prompting concerns for the next 12 months.

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A REVIEW of the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) has been pushed back a further six months, prompting concerns for the next 12 months.

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston called for a review of the department's core functions amid concerns that staff and funding cuts had left the department undermined and floundering.

Mr Baston had hoped the review would be compete this year, but he said work will recommence in the new year.

The panel review, which has received $100,000 in funding, will be made up of five or six people and make recommendations to Mr Baston as to the future departments structure.

It is understood that the recommendation on the panel's composition will be provided to Mr Baston for his consideration in the new year.

Labor Member for Collie-Preston and Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Food Mick Murray said Mr Baston needed to point the "ship in the right direction".

"It concerns me because it looks like they are floundering," Mr Murray said.

"Who is driving the ship?

"If the Minister can't handle the job, get the Premier involved - that's how strongly I feel.

"We need to get the job done."

Mr Murray said that the department redundancies and biosecurity issues concerned him.

"If they don't have a plan for the next 12 months, how can they make any redundancies?" he said.

"It's just a shambles.

"I'm also concerned about our biosecurity - we have a clean green brand and it's at risk because no one knows where they are going.

"In a 12 month period anything could happen."

Mr Baston said work had been done on the review over the past six months.

"Preliminary work on establishing the parameters for the review has been completed, and work on the review will re-commence in the new year with a more refined scope," Mr Baston said.

"This will include a review of all current functions and analysis around zero-based budgeting for future operations.

"Members of the review panel will be finalised early next year."

A panel of experts will be put together by DAFWA director general Rob Delane to carry out the review.

South West Region MP Nigel Hallett was disappointed it had been delayed.

"As we enter the full implementation of the Southeast Asian Free Trade Agreements it's disappointing to hear that the independent review of DAFWA has been delayed by a further six months and is not expected to be completed until June 2016," he said.

"The review, which will determine the future direction of the department, is urgently required to ensure the WA agriculture sector remains innovative and competitive.

"I believe this can only be achieved with greater focus on research and development, everything from crop development to land usage, and food security.

"I'm hoping the review will set out a clear and well-defined strategic approach to creating a stronger and more competitive agriculture sector in WA."

It is understood that detailed initial work has been completed, however further consultation and a detailed zero-based budget and cost analysis needs to be completed before the review continues its work.

Mr Baston said it remains his expectation that the review will be completed by June.

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