The Opposition has welcomed the Government’s $25 million commitment to a new agriculture project called ‘The Western Australian Agricultural Collaboration (WAAC)’ but seeks clarity on its objectives.
Shadow Agriculture and Food Minister Colin de Grussa said while he acknowledged the WAAC seeks to partner research bodies and universities, there was still a lack of detail around the project.
“We welcome partnerships that can enhance WA’s agriculture industry, however, there are concerns around the limited detail provided on what the WAAC aims to achieve and how it will collaborate with the agriculture industry,” Mr de Grussa said.
“It appears the project’s focus is around climate and emissions, but there has been no specific detail released as of yet so it remains to be seen what the objectives are.”
Mr de Grussa said aside from this one project and the continuation of the failed “Paid Escape” program for international working holidaymakers, there was little else for the agricultural sector in the State Budget.
“It is quite bizarre that the McGowan Government has looked to fund the Paid Escape program to the tune of $7.5 million until 2024, when it has been a dismal failure,” he said.
“It would be far more effective if they focused on collaborating with the Federal Government to fast-track the skilled workers required from overseas.”
Mr de Grussa also welcomed a continuation of funding for biosecurity in this year’s State Budget.
“Sadly, this commitment comes on the back of over four years of neglect, which saw many experienced and qualified officers leave DPIRD, either through disillusionment or being restructured out of a job,” he said.
“The machinery of Government changes gutted the department and forced a difficult merger of agriculture, fisheries and regional development.
“There is still a long way to go to rebuild the lost capacity from the department and ensure our State’s biosecurity systems are sufficient to protect our vital food and fibre industry.
“The lack of veterinary capacity within DPIRD was highlighted most recently in the Narrogin-Wickepin and Corrigin bushfires, just imagine what might be the case if a major outbreak of animal disease occurs.”