ABC Rural

Producers in Western Australia’s north hope the new Prime Minister keeps focus on agricultural development in the region.

In June former Prime Minister Tony Abbott unveiled the Northern Australia White Paper, which sets out the Federal Government’s policy ideas for the next 20 years.

The plan contains a $600 million roads package and a $200 million water infrastructure fund to explore the potential of building more dams in the north.

Three weeks ago Mr Abbott made his first ever visit to Kununurra in the East Kimberley, where he toured a farm in the Ord River Irrigation Area and expressed his desire to progress the scheme.

Ord farmer David Menzel, who was also a member of the Northern Advisory Group, said he’s confident the new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull understands the issues facing the region.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s been here before (and) we’ve had discussions with him,” Mr Menzel said.

“He’s well aware of northern Australia (and) he’s also served as the Minister for Water.

“He has a good understanding of some of the issues we face up here so we look forward to him picking up and running with the northern Australia focus.”

Mr Menzel said the change of Prime Minister would probably not have much impact on the long term development of the Ord.

“The mechanism of the northern Australia focus is in place now and I’m not sure if there’s that much difference between the two Prime Ministers as to their focus on the north,” he said.

West Kimberley pastoralist David Stoate said he hoped Mr Turnbull would bring stability, but was unsure of his credentials with the cattle industry.

“He did work for Kerry Packer in a previous life, when he (Mr Packer) had the big pastoral holdings, so he may have had some experience that way,” Mr Stoate said.

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