Murray calls for Nalder backbone

Countryman

New Minister for Agriculture and Food Dean Nalder must stand up to the Premier and treasurer on the massive cutbacks they are inflicting upon the industry, his opposition counterpart Mick Murray says.

Mr Murray made the call for action while on a tour of farming communities in and around Wongan Hills this week, where he met with local farmers to discuss a range of matters impacting on WA’s agrifood sector.

He said large-scale redundancies had caused dismay in the industry, with many farmers and food producers raising serious concerns about the huge loss of DAFWA biosecurity staff and research and development experts.

Mr Murray said he hoped Mr Nalder would confront the Premier and treasurer on their refusal to address an urgent biosecurity staff shortage — and press for an exception to be made to the current public sector staffing freeze for the sake of the industry’s future.

He used the opportunity to reaffirm WA Labor’s commitment to Royalties for Regions, and said the disastrous country road toll was greater proof than ever that $130 million of unspent Road Trauma Trust Fund money needed to be committed immediately to regional roads.

“This is a chance for a fresh start, where the new minister can record a win for the industry where his predecessor couldn’t,” Mr Murray said.

“Mr Barnett and Mr Nahan’s plans are for DAFWA staff levels to fall to about half of where they were when the Liberal-National Government took office.

“It is such an obvious contradiction for the Government to have a stated goal of doubling the value of our agrifood sector at the same time they are halving departmental staff — it just doesn’t add up.

“I call on the minister to sit down with the Premier and treasurer and impress upon them the importance of restoring the millions of dollars in biosecurity and research funding they have torn away.

“There is no question the Premier and treasurer are trying to deal with a self-inflicted Budget crisis, but you cannot fix a revenue problem by undermining one of the state’s most important sources of revenue.

“The other major concern out in the Wheatbelt is the future of Royalties for Regions and the increasingly tragic regional road toll.

“WA Labor is committed to Royalties for Regions and, unlike the Liberal-National Government, will spent the millions of dollars of unspent speed camera and infringement revenue on fixing regional roads.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails