Farm fund schemes on move in WA departments shake-up

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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Three fragmented State Government initiatives supporting WA agriculture will be picked up by the Department of Agriculture and Food when it becomes part of the new Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development next month.

From July 1, Primary Industries and Regional Development, under Alannah MacTiernan, will include the former departments of Agriculture and Food, Fisheries, Regional Development and the regional development commissions, as part of the McGowan Government’s public-sector reforms.

As part of the Regional Development shift, its Open For Business initiative will become part of the new super agency’s agricultural effort.

The Department of State Development’s Agriculture Expansion Unit will also to be absorbed into the new PIRD, along with the $40 million Royalties for Regions-funded Water for Food initiative, currently administered by the Department for Water.

“In the past there has been enormous sfragmentation of the agricultural effort, spread over four departments and evolving from competition among National and Liberal party ministers,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“We are working to rebuild the capability by bringing together all the agri-food business units into the central agency.”

Ms MacTiernan said the move was not driven by job cuts.

“We are doing this because we want government to be efficient and effective,” she said.

“Obviously we are going to have to work through where personnel will go, but it is not about that, it is about restoring a sensible arrangement.

“Often people at the various agencies did not know what each other were doing within agriculture, and this was not maximising the return on government investment. Industry has also found this difficult. By bringing the groups together we can strategically spend the dollars, rather than having people from several different agencies circumnavigating the globe looking for market opportunities.”

Mark Sweetingham, acting director-general of DAFWA, will take on the role of deputy director general of agriculture and food within PIRD and will report to PIRD director-general Ralph Addis, currently director-general of Regional Development.

Former DAFWA director-general Rob Delane, who has worked at the Agribusiness Expansion Unit since being moved there by former premier Colin Barnett last year, will become deputy director-general of International Education, Trade and Investment in the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

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