Jenne Brammer, The West Australian, Thursday, 24 May 2018
Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Agriculture and the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association have joined forces to explore whether there is appetite to create a group which could work with the State Government to help shape its vision for the Fitzroy River.
An invitation to discuss the potential for forming a steering group has been issued to key stakeholders who would be affected by the State Government’s Fitzroy River election commitments.
The commitments involve creation of the Fitzroy River National Park and the development of a management plan for the Fitzroy catchment, incorporating a water-allocation plan to ensure the long-term health of the river.
As part of its commitments, the Government has also stated the Fitzroy River and its tributaries will not be dammed.
Pastoralists in the area are concerned that, aside from stifling further economic progress, the reclamation of land and preventing livestock from accessing drinking water by fencing off the river could cause productivity losses amounting to tens of millions of dollars.
Although there is no detail yet on planned boundaries for the national park, because of their locations Mrs Rinehart’s Fossil Downs and Liveringa stations, and the Harris family’s Gogo Station, are expected to be among the biggest losers from the Government’s national park plans.
Hancock Agriculture would not comment yesterday.
The catchment management plan, meanwhile, could affect up to 48 pastoral leases.
A letter sent by the KPCA on Tuesday invited pastoralists, Aboriginal traditional owners, environmental groups and some government agencies to attend an initial exploratory meeting on June 22 at Fitzroy Crossing.
Alastair Shields, most recently chief executive of the Northern Territory Department of Tourism and Culture, will act as independent chair of the meeting.
The planned evening meeting follows a community consultation started by the McGowan Government in March, which involved a meeting in the area hosted by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan, Water Minister Dave Kelly, and Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt.
Traditional land owners and representatives of Aboriginal groups, pastoralists, environmental organisations, government and industry took part.