PREMIER Colin Barnett will take a "personal interest" in failed Rangeland reform, following the scrapping of the draft Land Administration Amendment Bill last month.
Speaking at the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) convention in Perth last Friday, Mr Barnett said it had been "a missed opportunity" not to get Rangeland reform in place.
"I don't dispute the points that the PGA has raised and I think it is a pity and failing of government that we weren't able to accommodate some different points of view and get an agreement," Mr Barnett said.
"I hope that opportunity has not been lost as it is important to give greater security of title and give greater protection of sensitive areas.
"We want to encourage other developments on pastoral leases, whether that be tourism, irrigation farming or an abattoir.
"We want to give you, industry, the security and confidence to be able to grow and develop for a changing world and changing market.
"What I don't want to see is increasing areas of the State tied up in conservation of a sort or by Aboriginal corporations where you get unproductive stations and a lack of control of feral species.
"I will take a personal interest in this to sort something out that is acceptable to the industry but also gives long-term Rangeland reform."
Mr Barnett said conservation, particularly in the Kimberley, was important but the State has taken on that responsibility with the establishment of marine parks and the Great Kimberley National Park.
As part of his opening address, Mr Barnett outlined live animal export, genetically modified (GM) crops and wild dogs as other issues facing WA's agricultural industry.
He criticised the industry's "awkward" involvement in live animal export issues and animal welfare issues in general.
"It is a wide issue of public concern and opinion and you are in the live animal export business," Mr Barnett said.
"I really urge you take a fresh approach to the way you handle those issues - you need to work with governments and groups that have an interest so that we can maintain the live animal export but do it to the world's' best standard.
"I think we are not far off that, but we can do better."
Mr Barnett said if the privatisation of Fremantle Port was successful the State Government would fund a new live animal export facility at Kwinana.
"That will be better for the efficiency operation of the industry but also far better in animal welfare standards,'' he said.
"Your industry needs to back that like you would not believe. If there is one issue that you need to be on top of, it is issues like that."
Mr Barnett mentioned growing GM crops in WA and the Genetically Modified Crops Free Areas Repeal Bill, which is before the WA Legislative Assembly.
"We will repeal that 2003 piece of legislation before the end of this year, but the whole GM issue is there,'' he said.
"There will always be caution around GM crops, but GM can deliver increased yields, frost resistance, light rainfall crop, which is going to be very important."
Wild dogs protection was also a key concern, with Mr Barnett stating that the State Government was open to working with industry and individual landowners to improve fencing.
"There has been various proposals put forward but we are up to working with you and individual owners to improve the fencing and restore the sheep industry where it used to thrive," he said.
"It will take public expenditure along with co-operative private expenditure by property owners but there is an appetite for that and we are up to working with you."
He also spoke of the "reinvention" of the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and the need for the department to do "high level and relevant" research.
Mr Barnett said grower groups had provided practical and relevant information for their districts but there was a need for higher level research by DAFWA.
"I think the State Government hasn't done a good enough job in that area," Mr Barnett said.
"I have asked WA's chief scientist Peter Klinken to take a special interest in the nature of the research of DAFWA - it needs to be high level, better resourced and relevant.
"That work is taking place and we are seeing some changes in DAFWA and you'll see that organisation reinvent itself - it won't be the DAFWA that it was 20 years ago.
"It'll deal with things only government can deal with and its research role will be very specialised and very high level and very much looking into the future."
Mr Barnett said agriculture was having the "best opportunity it's had in 50 years" and it was up to the government to support the industry.
"External conditions are favourable, the dollar has come down and we have the most rapidly developing economy, China, to our north, and an ability to produce high quality, clean and safe food and other products," he said.
"We recognise the importance of the farming industry and our major focus has been improving and expanding the infrastructure for industry to support it.
"It is something that government needs to do."
Mr Barnett also spoke of the State's $28 billion deficit and the need to divest of State assets such as Western Power and the management of the Fremantle Port as ways to reduce debt.
"Of the $28b debt, 60pc is accounted for in electricity and water supplies - it's not squandered but goes on delivering basic essential services for households and business," Mr Barnett said.
"Another 20pc is spent on hospital and schools, while projects such as Elizabeth Quay and the new Perth stadium account for less than 3pc of that debt.
"We are trying to fund a growing State, its industry and employment but there's a limit to how much borrowings you can handle.
"So we are going to have to look at different ways of funding things," he said.