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$45m support package boosts GMS plan

A $45 MILLION package has given a great kick-start to the Gascoyne Murchison Strategy (GMS) plan initiated by pastoralists in rangeland WA. The initiative by a group of enterprising pastoralists and businessmen has seen the development of new projects and is currently setting up a new accreditation scheme to boost meat and wool production in the Gascoyne region.

GMS manager Roger Jaensch said apart from the advent of road trains, motorbikes and improved telecommunications, there had been few big leaps forward in the rangeland grazing industries over the past 50 years.

During this time, the terms of trade for pastoral beef and wool producers have declined steadily, skilled labour has become scarce and pastoralists have been less able to invest in the changes to keep up with global markets.

The GMS attacks these problems on four fronts: seed funding for new enterprises and industries; research and development for new technology, information and marketing; grants for individual businesses to implement new ideas and technologies and lease adjustment to rationalise leases to increase productivity and land use diversity.

There is also a major environmental program to enhance sustainability of land use on all scales, creating opportunities for clean and green eco-labelling of products from the region.

The plan evolved from two years of consultation with community, industry and government in the region, and resulted in 43 recommendations presented to a specially convened Cabinet subcommittee, chaired by Primary Industries Minister Monty House.

Of these, 40 were accepted in April 1998, and the GMS was launched with the signing of an agreement committing the State and Commonwealth governments to a $45 million support package for it.

“The program has attracted a considerable interest and a lot of people are applying for grants,” Mr Jaensch said.

To date the GMS has completed two of its six business development grants funding rounds, investing more than $2 million in the development and innovation of pastoral businesses across the region.

The Voluntary Lease Adjustment program is currently negotiating the commercial subdivision of six properties.

As part of the plan’s Regional Environment Management program, the Department of Conservation and Land Management has purchased several stations and is negotiating conservation management agreements with others.

The plan is now entering Stage Two, with a new logo and the slogan – A new lease of life.

It will continue the business development, adjustment and environment programs, but increase focus on research and development projects.

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