The McGowan Government will invest more than $20 million over the next 12 months to ensure functional laboratories and offices are in place while planning is underway to replace the aged Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s headquarters in South Perth.
The funding will support critical functions which underpin the State’s quarantine and biosecurity system that protects Western Australia from pests and diseases, and supports market access for Western Australian agriculture, fisheries and food exports. New laboratories will also support scientific research that underpins the sustainability and productivity of agricultural industries.
The Government is taking immediate steps to retire some of the department’s 60-year-old South Perth buildings which face ongoing safety and maintenance issues.
In the first stage, the department will renovate existing laboratory facilities and install new modular laboratories on the South Perth site, as well as lease temporary off-site laboratory facilities where needed.
About 200 dedicated scientific and specialised technical officers are expected to remain at South Perth in buildings that can be maintained to appropriate standards.
About 500 office-based staff will move to a modern, fit for purpose building in the CBD. Negotiations are underway to secure a suitable lease to enable these staff to move by 2021.
A full business case for the construction of new permanent fit for purpose laboratory and research facilities is being developed as part of a broader redevelopment of the South Perth site.
The business case will include the co-location of the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, Intergrain and potentially Grains Australia with department scientific functions.
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“With the challenge of maintaining ageing asbestos buildings at the department’s South Perth office and the potential disruption to services, the State’s critical biosecurity, quarantine and trade certification functions are at risk.
“Until now, the promise of new and modern facilities to support our vital agriculture and food sector has not been fulfilled.
“The dedicated staff at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development deserve a fit for purpose workplace, and this is a significant step forward to achieve that.”
As stated by Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley:
“The department’s diagnostic and laboratory services provide essential disease diagnostic capability that safeguards Western Australia’s fisheries industries.
“The lab’s expertise covers investigations of fish kills, plus health examination of major aquaculture species. Many of our aquaculture businesses are based on a high health status underpinned by laboratory testing for significant exotic and endemic diseases.
“This investment will not only future proof our scientific and diagnostic services but also ensure our workforce has the right facilities to do the best job for our State.”