Minister explains barrier fence delays

Minister Alannah MacTiernan explains State Barrier Fence delays

Politics
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

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"We are looking at putting that out to a panel of Aboriginal contractors."

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THE Esperance Biosecurity Association met with Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan recently to discuss the delay on the construction of the Esperance extension of the State Barrier Fence.

Designed to help protect the Esperance agricultural region from vermin, only 63 kilometres of the 600km extension of the State Barrier Fence has been completed in the past two years, causing much frustration among local farmers and landowners with the land area susceptible to wild emus and dogs.

With a large portion of the fence extension falling on native title land, Ms MacTiernan said the State government's inability to start the remainder of the project was due to indigenous land use agreement negotiations with the Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation still being in progress.

However when questioned about the delay at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days, Ms MacTiernan said she was hopeful that the Tjaltjraak would be in a position to vote on the issue in November.

In the meantime, she said the government was looking at completing 30-40km of fencing on road reserve areas that didn't fall under the native title land use agreement.

"We are looking at putting that out to a panel of Aboriginal contractors," Ms MacTiernan said.

"But even with the limited panel that we have, there still are governance issues you have to contend with when spending public money so it is still a process, but I'm hoping that we will have that contract some time in late September."

Ms MacTiernan urged local farmers in the area to remain positive about their engagement with the Aboriginal group and to "keep a sense of progress".

"We have been having dialogue with Tjaltjraak and I am concerned that there are people out there being critical of Tjaltjraak," Ms MacTiernan said.

"They have their processes and we have to understand that native title is a real thing and it's a real right and we are trying to all work together to get this across the line.

"If we had to go back and redo this whole alignment - I think that would be a long delay, but Tjaltraak is acting in good faith and these processes take time."

Esperance Biosecurity Association chairman Scott Pickering met with Ms MacTiernan along with secretary treasurer Peter Harvest, to gauge an estimate of the timeline to have construction of the Esperance extension of the State Barrier Fence recommence.

"The minister was pretty responsive and going forward we think we are going to get some more action," Mr Pickering said.

"We were told that native title negotiations were still underway and that hopefully we will have an answer by November to be able to continue with the fence.

"Some fencing along a road reserve can happen now and that stretches about 36km out west of Esperance and some more fencing will be able to be completed on some private property as well.

"From our point of view it was a positive and productive meeting."

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