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Woomera Prohibited Area new MOU

How South Australia and Defence are working together.

South Australia’s joint role with the Australian Government in managing coexistence in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) has been formalised in a memorandum of understanding. The Department for Energy and Mining and Defence SA, representing the Government of South Australia, signed and executed the memorandum with the Department of Defence on 10 October 2019.

The memorandum formally articulates the principles of contemporary coexistence and sets out the roles and responsibilities of the state and Defence in administering non-Defence user access to the WPA (Fig. 1). Varied land uses and interests including those of Defence, mineral exploration and mining, pastoral operations, traditional land ownership, and other national security and economic interests are recognised and managed.

WPA access zones.

Figure 1 WPA access zones.

The memorandum provides that the state and Defence will work together to support:

  • coexistence between Defence and stakeholders in the WPA
  • Defence testing of war material
  • economic development activities within the WPA
  • cooperative working arrangements, including:
    • consultative mechanisms
    • management protocols
    • complementary administrative and regulatory frameworks
    • initiation and support of regular independent reviews of the coexistence framework and the WPA Advisory Board.

Under the memorandum, the state and Defence agree to consult each other in a timely manner on any development or planned future activity in the WPA that may impact operations or economic activity within the state. Most importantly, the memorandum provides that a working group will be convened with membership from both state and Australian government agencies to support governance of the coexistence framework, including provision of ongoing policy and technical support to the WPA Advisory Board. The WPA Working Group was formally convened in October 2019 and has commenced a number of initiatives that support the recommendations of the 2018 review of the WPA Coexistence Framework.

The execution of the WPA memorandum of understanding was part of the Government of South Australia’s key recommendations to the 2018 WPA review.

More information on the WPA

– Cathy Lacar, April 2020

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