ABC Rural

Better transport links, improved port facilities and faster telecommunications are on farmers’ and pastoralists’ infrastructure wish lists in Western Australia’s north.

Their opinions were heard at an agriculture infrastructure audit held by the Department of Regional Development in Kununurra this week.

The aim was to identify how $75 million of Royalties for Regions funding could be spent on WA agriculture infrastructure over the next four years.

Mr Bloecker said difficulty with mobile phone access and slow internet speeds were problematic for Ord farmers.

“We have difficulty with mobile access at the moment, and related to that we have very poor internet access,” he said.

“When you’re trying to run a business in a modern environment without proper internet access, it makes it very difficult.”

Mr Bloecker admitted it was a long wish list.

“We’re just trying to narrow it down to probably some that are achievable as well,” he said.

“There’s only $75 million (of funds) actually secured at the moment, which in the scheme of things isn’t a lot of money.”

Nonetheless, Mr Bloecker said at the very least farmers had to raise the issues. “If they’re not written down somewhere, nothing will be done about them,” he said.

“Ideally we would get funding for some of these, but even if we don’t get funding straight away, they’re written down and at least through the Department of Regional Development, there is an awareness of what the requirements are for this region.”

The idea would be to be able to do boats like Darwin does throughout the wet season as well, so that we’ve got a supply going into our markets year round.

Kimberley Cattlemen’s Association chairman and Kalyeeda Station owner Peter Camp also flagged telecommunications as a priority for pastoralists.

“At the moment it’s ridiculously slow on remote properties as far as internet hook up, so that was quite high on the priority list,” he said. Mr Camp said slow internet speeds had a huge impact on pastoral businesses.

“It’s either very slow or you’re having trouble to get connected, so realistically without that reliable service you’re spending more time in the office trying to get work done. “Not only that, but just to get the basics done, it’s making it very difficult for us.”

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