STUDY TRIP TO NORTH WEST WA My wife Helena accompanied me on this trip between 14-21 July, 2007. My first appointment was with the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley in Derby. I met with the Shire President, Ms Elsia Archer, Councillor Iris Prouse and Chief Executive Officer John Pearson. Our discussions covered infrastructure development and the shire’s governance of a significant area of outback WA including numerous small communities. Other topics included the shire’s relationship with the Kimberley Development Commission and its general role in community development. In particular the discussion covered mental health issues and suicide prevention measures in the region. They also expressed concern that the most recent census figures did not reflect the population growth and development that is being witnessed by the shire. In relation to governance, it was interesting to note that: • the President is elected from the ranks of the elected councillors • councillors are elected on a half in-half out basis every two years for a four year term • the Local Government Act does not require councils to undertake strategic planning • the shire puts a strong emphasis on long term planning and the training of elected members • it was the first shire in WA to develop a regional environmental health program • the shire was actively involved in securing regular air services to Perth (three days a week) and the development of the wharf. The next appointment was with Mr Kelvin Barr, Assistant Director of the Kimberley Development Commission at the commission’s Broome office. Other offices are located in Kununurra and Derby. Mr Barr expressed similar concerns to the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley regarding census figures. Work done by the commission indicated strong population growth in the region through to 2031. The commission works closely with the four shires in the region: Broome, Derby- West Kimberley, Wyndham-East Kimberley and Hall’s Creek. It is also involved in the Kimberley Inter-Agency Working Group which meets quarterly and includes senior managers of state and federal agencies as well as local government. This body has a strong focus on indigenous affairs. In addition the region also has a regional managers group which is restricted to state agencies. The chairs of the nine regional development commissions meet as the State Government’s Regional Development Council. This council has an advisory group made up of the CEO’s of the commissions. The commissions can access funding through a range of programs through the Department of Local Government and Regional Development. Some of the schemes are particularly related to indigenous communities. There is a 20 year State Infrastructure Plan but this is largely developed out of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure in Perth. I also met with the Shire of Broome. This meeting was conducted with the Shire President Graeme Campbell, Councillor Elsta Foy and Chief Executive Officer Ian Bodill. As well as being Shire President, Mr Campbell is chair of the Kimberley Local Government Zone, chair of the Kimberley Area Consultative Committee (Federal) and a member of the Kimberley Development Commission. The Kimberley has an advantage over some other regions of WA due to the common boundaries utilised by the above bodies and other organisations and agencies – particularly in the health and tourism sectors. The expected development of off-shore oil and gas supplies and the expected use of Broome as the base for this industry have highlighted the lack of infrastructure associated with such development. My final meeting in the north west was with Captain Vic Justice, Chief Executive Officer and Harbour Master of the Port of Broome Authority. We were joined by Simone Bradley, the authority’s financial officer. While the authority is an agency of the State Government it runs on a purely commercial basis Much of the discussion surrounded the additional infrastructure which will be required at the port, and in Broome generally, to service the expected oil and gas developments. Already the port’s highest proportion of activity is related to support for the oil and gas industry. It is also strategically important for the region’s fuel supply and for the delivery of general goods. One ship from Perth can take the equivalent of 76 road trains. In addition, the port services 45 export cattle ships and 25 cruise ships a year, while maintaining strong connections with the fishing and pearling industries. The port is also used for the confiscation of illegal off-shore Indonesian fishing boats. The authority works closely with other local organisations and has access to planning documents from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. There is a particularly close relationship with the owners of the Broome International Airport which will also need large scale expansion if the oil and gas sector expands to the level expected. It is generally recognised that Broome is best placed to service the oil and gas expansion, but also readily acknowledged that if it is not competitive much of this work could be centred in Darwin.