Government to move beef program to Broome

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan talks to business representatives in Broome during a recent visit to the town.
Camera IconAgriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan talks to business representatives in Broome during a recent visit to the town. Credit: Jakeb Waddell

A $15 million program created to transform the North West cattle industry is set for a major overhaul as the State Government investigates moving the operation from its Bunbury base to Broome.

Northern Beef Futures was established by the previous government in 2014 using Royalties for Regions funding to increase demand for beef produced in the Kimberley and Pilbara, and maximise diversification for pastoralists.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said there had been a “great expression of faith” in local NBF staff but added the Bunbury headquarters “lacked industry confidence” and the program there had attracted public servants afraid of being sacked.

“Part of the structural problem is from the whole way Royalties for Regions has been run and creating these sub empires for people who thought they were going to lose their jobs and attached themselves to a program rather than being inspired about what the industry really needs,” she said.

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“You can’t run a program which has very little industry confidence so we are having a re-think and I have made it very clear the leadership of the program really needs to be in the (Broome) area.”

Ms MacTiernan said changes could involve using what was already available in the Kimberley.

“It may well be utilisation of people that are up there (Broome) because the water for food people have come in to the department from the Department of Water,” she said.

“To some extent, we will be looking at the talent we have got locally. Another thing that has become very evident is that the agricultural staff in Kununurra, Pilbara and Broome were not being informed — this program was running quite discreetly.

“It was disconnected from the rest of the department in the north and people did not feel like they were engaged or connected with it.”

Ms MacTiernan said the matter would be worked on over the next month and that the program involved the equivalent of about 10 full time public servants.

“This doesn’t necessarily mean transferring the people from Bunbury to Broome but it means transferring the functions to Broome because we have got people there,” she said. “This program has acted as a silo that is quite separate from the environment in which it operates and we think that is not a good way to go.”

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said basing the NBF in Broome would be good for the industry and the town. “This will mean jobs and capacity-building here in Broome,” he said.

Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association chief executive Catherine Marriott described the move as “a positive step in the right direction”.

“Having a minister that is driven to develop regionally based programs run from the region itself gives us an enormous amount of hope,” she said.

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