Milestone reached as water flows into M2 channel

27 Nov 12

Water is now flowing into the new M2 channel constructed by Leighton Contractors as part of the Ord East Kimberley Expansion Project in Kununurra, Western Australia.

The Hon. Colin Barnett, State Premier, and the Hon. Brendon Grylls, Minister for Regional Development; Lands, were on hand with the Traditional Owners, Miriuwung and Gajerrong people to open the irrigation infrastructure.

Peter Handel, General Manager Western Infrastructure at Leighton Contractors, said the project has delivered many benefits to the local community and highlights the company’s long term commitment to Indigenous employment and participation.

“Opening the gates to allow water to flow into the M2 channel is a significant milestone and highlights how this project is ensuring the sustainability of the region as a prime agricultural centre.

“Additionally, the opening of the channel allows us to reflect on the opportunities Leighton Contractors has provided for local businesses as well as employment, training and business opportunities for local Indigenous people,” Mr Handel said.

Throughout 2012, the average Indigenous workforce on the project was 21% with 56% of employees actively upskilled at any one time. Following the implementation of dedicated training plans, 112 nationally accredited tickets (including traffic management certification, senior first aid and Cert IV training) were issued to 54 Indigenous employees. From the 54, 35 were also issued with 70 nationally accredited machine operation tickets between them.

In addition, eight local Indigenous businesses were directly engaged on the construction site to provide a variety of services including plant hire, labour hire, transportation, catering, concreting and structures work.

“Leighton Contractors commitment to Indigenous participation and engagement is not limited to the Ord Irrigation Expansion Project.

“We have a strong focus on cultural awareness, Indigenous employment and workforce development. We work to enhance relationships and improve outcomes for Indigenous people and communities with the aim of leaving a legacy behind well after our work finishes,” Mr Handel said.

Leighton Contractors will be back in Kununurra in 2013 following the wet season to undertake works on subsidiary channels, drainage and road infrastructure. The project will create 7,500 hectares of new farmland in the East Kimberley with the main M2 channel running 31.9km towards the Northern Territory border.

The Ord East Kimberley Expansion Project is a result of the Ord Final Agreement between Miriuwung and Gajerrong people and the State of Western Australia in 2005.