Compliance shake-up fallout continues

Zach RelphCountryman
Tensions are simmering.
Camera IconTensions are simmering. Credit: Simon Santi

Tensions are simmering among former officers of the State’s now-defunct livestock compliance unit as the McGowan Government advances its agriculture, fisheries and regional development amalgamation.

An anonymous letter to Countryman this week savaged the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s restructure, branding some changes under an “absolute disgrace”.

It comes after Countryman revealed on December 5 that DPIRD had formed a new operations and compliance directorate to combine its biosecurity, fisheries and animal welfare compliance expertise.

Under the move, which came into effect this month, WA’s former 15-person strong livestock compliance unit was absorbed by the directorate.

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Twleve of the more than 100 officers in the new directorate focus on activities relating to the Animal Welfare Act and deliver the former unit’s functions.

The letter to Countryman said former livestock compliance workers were disgruntled.

It also said morale was down after the unit’s principal compliance inspector, the person understood to have overseen livestock compliance, was moved into another departmental role.

“It’s an absolute disgrace to remove the most knowledgeable person in the LCU who had great (rapport) with fellow staff members,” it read.

“The whole team was in complete shock when this occurred and left everyone feeling very despondent about the new structure.”

DPIRD declined to comment on individual officers’ roles.

When asked if any of the 15 staff from DPIRD’s former livestock compliance unit expressed concern regarding the new directorate’s changes, a spokeswoman said: “Most staff from the former agencies have now transitioned into the new directorate and will continue to provide services to their respective industries.

“DPIRD has undergone significant change in bringing together three agencies, which has presented both opportunities and challenges for staff.”

A Community and Public Sector Union-led survey into DPIRD, obtained by Countryman in August found 69 per cent of staff respondents felt departmental change was negatively impacting their mental health.

The survey, which closed in May, also reported a further 71 per cent had no confidence in job security, while 80 per cent were concerned about the welfare of their colleagues.

And 80 per cent of respondents did not believe DPIRD executives understood the role of all the department’s business areas.

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