MG Corporation is committed to building a strong economic and social base for MG people beyond the life of the OFA by pursuing an inclusive economic development agenda, while protecting and enhancing MG culture and heritage.
Given the cessation of administrative and operational funding under the OFA, MG Corporation is working towards self-sufficiency in the short term, before long-term objectives may be met. With this in mind, MG Corporation’s focus on economic development has seen the growth of its existing property portfolio, robust investigation of commercial prospects regarding its land areas and the development of joint venture arrangements with third parties to promote sustainable economic growth.
As ever, MG Corporation endeavors to balance its economic objectives with the goals of MG people; this is particularly the case when dealing with land development in light of MG people’s strong cultural connection to country. No development will take place on any land areas without strong consultation and collaboration with the relevant Dawawang.
In return for the surrender of native title over large parcels of land in the Ord River Irrigation Area, the OFA grants MG Corporation the right to a proportion of land in those and other areas. These development areas include land at Goomig (pictured below), Knox Plain, Mantinea and the Ord West Bank (pictured below). MG Corporation has also elected to move outside of the provisions of the OFA to acquire and develop agricultural land in the region in collaboration with local stakeholders and joint venture partners.
In accordance with its rights under the OFA, MG Corporation has elected to receive the freehold interest in Lots 15 and 16 within the Goomig development of the Ord Stage 2 development. Once received from the State, the lots will be used for farming either by MG Corporation itself or via a commercial lease arrangement with a third party. MG Corporation has already negotiated for KAI to lease one of the lots from MG Corporation at commercial rates.
Ord West Bank
MG Corporation has yet to elect which parcel of land it will acquire within the Ord West Bank development as part its entitlements under the OFA and is currently in discussion with the State Government regarding the development of that area. Which lot(s) it acquires will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the State Government regarding a development proposal for surrounding areas.
Separate to its OFA entitlements, MG Corporation has also submitted a proposal to the State Government regarding the agricultural development of areas surrounding the Ord West Bank development area. Consistent with the region’s strong focus on agricultural development, MG Corporation’s proposal seeks to open up new areas for farming in the region. Third party developers have already expressed an interest in working with MG Corporation to develop this land.
Ord East Bank
Whilst the OFA does not afford MG Corporation any land entitlement as part of any agricultural development of the Ord East Bank area, it contains a right for MG Corporation to receive a cash payment of 5% of the value of any lots.
Separate to the OFA provisions, a proposal for the development of Ord East Bank and surrounding lands has been jointly submitted to the State Government by MG Corporation and the Ord Irrigation Cooperative. The Ord East Bank development proposal represents a new phase of MG Corporation’s development in terms of its relationship with Ord Stage 1 farmers and presents an exciting opportunity in terms of economic growth for MG people and the region more broadly.
Given the high cost of developing and clearing land in the Knox Plain area for agricultural use, MG Corporation has elected to receive a payment in lieu of its entitlement to the freehold interest in agricultural land within the Knox Plain development.
As the proposed development of Mantinea is in its infancy, MG Corporation has not yet commenced discussions regarding its land entitlements within the area.
Under the OFA, MG Corporation has the right to negotiate Aboriginal Development Packages (ADPs) with parties awarded the right to develop certain areas of land including Goomig, Knox Plain, Mantinea and Ord West Bank.
Goomig: MG Corporation successfully negotiated an ADP with the State Government in 2010 for the development of land at Goomig. The agreement was valued at approximately $12.5 million and included provisions to generate training and employment opportunities for MG people, as well as funding for social programs including the Goomig Tertiary Scholarship Fund.
Knox Plain: The ADP for the Knox Plain development was negotiated with KAI and executed at a ceremony in China in 2015. The Knox Plain ADP comprises a benefits package worth approximately $8 million and includes training and employment targets, land clearing and development obligations, milestone payments, and a joint venture proposal between the two parties.
Ord West Bank and Mantinea: MG Corporation is currently negotiating ADPs with respect to the Mantinea and Ord West Bank developments with KAI and TFS respectively, who have been announced as the developing parties of those two areas. The new ADPs are anticipated to include a renewed focus on economic development opportunities, with provisions for equity in the agricultural development by way of joint venture or land ownership. As with all ADPs negotiated to date, the Mantinea and Ord West Bank packages will include provisions to facilitate training and employment opportunities for MG people.
MG Corporation and its related entities manage a property portfolio in respect of a number of premises in and around Kununurra, all of which are let to third parties for a variety of uses including industrial, residential and commercial. The MG Group’s property portfolio has recently expanded to include four residential properties in Kurrajong Street in Kununurra, all of which are let to local Aboriginal people.
MGC Building & Maintenance Pty Ltd (MGCBM) was established in late 2013 through the MG Developments Trust as a commercial venture, targeting the market for residential and commercial building and maintenance in the East Kimberley region.
It is anticipated that MGCBM will ultimately generate a sustainable profit, which will be reinvested into the Community Foundation Trust, for distribution in accordance with the trust’s charitable objectives. In addition to financial returns, MGCBM generates social returns by way of training and employment opportunities for MG people.
MGCBM has successfully tendered for projects with various private entities and government departments, including the Department of Building & Maintenance, the Department of Finance and the Department of Housing.
Recent examples of successful projects completed include the refurbishment of the Balgo Police Station completed in May 2016 and upgrades to the Woolah Community Centre completed in July 2016. MGCBM also recently secured a contract through the Department of Housing’s Social Housing Initiative Program for the construction of two houses on Carbeen Street in Kununurra.
MGCBM was awarded Aboriginal Business of the year as part of the 2016 East Kimberley Small Business Awards and was also nominated as a finalist in the 2016 Western Australian Regional Small Business Awards.
While MGCBM is currently performing well, it is seeking to expand its operations to more effectively promote economic growth and self-sufficiency for MG people, as well as position itself to provide sustainable training and employment opportunities for MG people.