Minister silent on cuts

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman
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A report into the fate of the State’s agricultural research stations is complete, but Agriculture Minister Terry Redman is staying hush as to which facilities are facing the chop.

Earlier this year, Mr Redman revealed that several big ticket items, including $9 million for two GM grains research centres and a $30 million grains innovation centre, would be at least partially funded by the sale of Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) assets.

This included research station land that the Minister said wasn’t delivering a return to the industry.

A report into which so-called ‘lazy assets’ were on the hit list was due in August, and Mr Redman has confirmed a review of the department’s assets has been completed. “This plan — essentially a stocktake — aligned assets to the department’s current and future needs, identifying both surplus assets and areas where additional investment is required, ” Mr Redman said.

“Now that we have this information, we are in a position to make decisions on a strategic basis.”

But he has remained tight-lipped as to which assets might be offloaded, claiming the information was not yet available.

However, any sale of DAFWA assets will not take place while the property market is feeling the impact of poor seasonal conditions.

“The government is very mindful of the pressure on the rural property market and would be reluctant to add to that pressure by putting its own property on the market at this time, ” he said.

Meanwhile, the timing of the long-awaited move from the department’s South Perth headquarters to Murdoch is still no clearer.

In May, Mr Redman’s office said an announcement regarding the move was imminent. The Minister said a business case for the new facilities was with the government for consideration.

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