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Lessons of Ord project could guide Fitzroy River development

The Ord East Kimberley Development Plan has untapped potential to deliver meaningful agricultural and economic development in Western Australia’s north, according to Shadow Agriculture Minister Ian Blayney.

Mr Blayney said that while the latest report by Public Accounts Committee report on the OEKD plan found it had been beset by complicated governance, red tape and poor reporting, the report should not detract from the untapped potential to capitalise on the significant investment that had been made by previous State and Federal Governments.

The Ord East Kimberley Development Plan was a Liberal commitment in 2008 that was funded under the Royalties for Regions programme.

“The decision was right then, and was supported by a Federal Labor government under $170 million commitment to a parallel programme in the East Kimberley, and it remains right, despite its teething problems,” Mr Blayney said.

“In some ways the committee’s findings confirm what I’ve been told during visits to the region; that the project may have been completed in haste, at a time when the WA economy was in the grips of a mining boom.

“The big lesson of that boom was, the need for the WA to add diversity to its economic portfolio and this project adds that in spades.”

Mr Blayney said recent years had seen some very positive outcomes in the Ord region, which he believed could be replicated along the Fitzroy River.

“The cotton crops in Ord Stage 2 are going very well – this will almost certainly grow into a major industry, with a big spin off to the cattle industry from cotton seed,” Mr Blayney said.

“I look forward to continued growth in cropping in the East Kimberley, and in the future, the development of cropping along the Fitzroy River.

“The Fitzroy River is an area that suffers extreme hardship and desperately needs the jobs and economic sustainability that intelligent agricultural development can provide.”

Mr Blayney also acknowledged the decades of hard work by many people in the East Kimberley, including researchers, farmers, small business people and government employees, who had persevered in the harsh and isolated conditions of the East Kimberley.

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