Land agreement opens the valve on irrigated agriculture

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph
Ngarla elder Lena Brown, Jeffrey Brown signing as the representative of the Ngarla people with PBC chairman and owner Bruce Cheung. Photo Pardoo Beef Corporation
Camera IconNgarla elder Lena Brown, Jeffrey Brown signing as the representative of the Ngarla people with PBC chairman and owner Bruce Cheung. Photo Pardoo Beef Corporation Credit: Pardoo Beef Corporation

An indigenous land use agreement signed last week will help expand the beef industry and create local job opportunities while protecting Aboriginal culture.

Wanparta Aboriginal Corporation and Pardoo Beef Corporation signed the irrigated agriculture project indigenous land use agreement on Tuesday, March 20 after concluding negotiations that started in 2016 involving more than 9000ha of land.

Ngarla elder and WAC spokesman Jeffrey Brown said the agreement showed how regional commerce could grow while maintaining connections to the land.

“Both parties started with respect and we have a good relationship,” he said.

“We see success in this, gaining opportunities that our people never had before.”

“Our free access to continue our cultural practices, hunting and fishing (while also) creating businesses, teaching our kids culture, keep the connection to country, and keep our good relationship going.” PBC director of strategic partnerships Monica Chetty said the agreement would help expand the region’s agriculture industry.

“It is part of the government land tenure pathway and enables the progress towards larger-scale irrigated agriculture with a view to the export of boxed beef to Asian markets, bringing jobs and opportunities to the northern pastoral industry, including indigenous communities,” she said.

Pardoo Beef Corporation chairman Bruce Cheung said the project’s impact on the Ngarla people’s native title rights and cultural heritage were considered with respect and collaboration.

“I am in this for the long haul,” he said.

“This project will not be for myself and Jeffrey Brown, Ngarla elder (Panaykarra family) — it will be for our future generations.

“It is a pleasure for us to see the Ngarla people’s involvement in our project and that they can continue to enjoy their cultural traditions on Pardoo, including leisure activities at Pardoo Creek and Pardoo Station.” Mr Cheung said the project would also provide employment and business opportunities for the Ngarla people.

A Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development spokeswoman said the agreement would further the State Government’s Water for Food program.

“Through the ILUA, Wanparta is realising opportunities from private investment enabled by the underlying groundwater resources and the State Government’s land tenure pathway for sustainable irrigated agriculture,” she said.

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