Cost claim for death of cattle

Zach RelphCountryman
The State Government are seeking to recover costs spent at a pastoral operation, not pictured, in WA’s north.
Camera IconThe State Government are seeking to recover costs spent at a pastoral operation, not pictured, in WA’s north. Credit: METHODE

The State Government plans to bill the Aboriginal association at the centre of a mass animal welfare scandal in the Pilbara more than $550,000 to recoup the cash it spent euthanasing livestock and repairing bores.

Countryman can reveal the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has struck a deal with Mugarinya Community Association to recover costs spent at Yandeyarra Reserve, where 1173 cattle died earlier this year.

DPIRD was forced to intervene at Yandeyarra, a reserve near Port Hedland managed by Mugarinya, to euthanase dehydrated livestock and repair bores after the animal welfare incident emerged in January.

About $560,000 was spent as part of the management efforts, including pastoral co-ordinator fees, costs of some bore works and the humane destruction of livestock, a State Government spokesman confirmed.

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The figure does not include staff costs.

The spokesman said an additional $218,453 in costs was paid through the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority emergency fund for further bore works.

However, the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage does not intend to seek cost recovery.

DPIRD also spent about $100,000 at a separate animal welfare response effort at the Yungngora Association-managed Noonkanbah Station in central Kimberley this year, with 490 dehydrated livestock confirmed dead.

The spokesman said Mugarinya’s mustering profits at Yandeyarra would help repay the State Government, but cost recovery at Noonkanbah had not been determined.

“The State Government is no longer expending funds on either lease,” he said.

“DPIRD has reached a formal agreement with Mugarinya Community Association to recover the bulk of its costs with respect to Yandeyarra, including returns from the sale of mustered cattle.

“DPIRD has not yet made a decision regarding cost recovery with respect to the Noonkanbah response.”

The cattle deaths at Yandeyarra and Noonkanbah rattled WA’s pastoral industry and prompted DPIRD to inspect 80 pastoral properties to identify stations at risk of an animal welfare mishap during the ongoing dry spell.

While in Broome earlier this month, WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the inspections had pinpointed multiple “at-risk” stations.

Ms MacTiernan said she was confident the works had improved the identified properties’ cattle management.

Note: The original article stated the State Government was seeking more than $800,000 in costs.

That figure was incorrect and Countryman apologies for the error.

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