Woomera Prohibited Area Advisory Board Annual Report, 1 October 2013—30 June 2014



  • Chair’s report
  • Executive summary
  • Background
  • Advisory Board
  • Legislative package
  • Woomera Prohibited Area overview
  • Economic potential
  • Facts and figures
  • Defence use
  • Users views on coexistence
  • Conclusion
  • Attachment A - WPA Advisory Board Terms Of Reference

Executive summary

During the reporting period, work continued on the development of a legislated permit scheme which would contribute to the coexistence framework. Defence, in conjunction with the Department of Industry and South Australian Government, developed the Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Bill 2014 (the Bill) that was introduced into Parliament on 27 March 2014. A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was undertaken to support the measures proposed in the Bill, which demonstrated that the legislation amendment would provide the certainty of access required by the resources industry to invest in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).

As at the time of printing of this report, the Bill was subsequently passed by Parliament and the new legislation came into effect on 9 August 2014. The amendments are supported by the Woomera Prohibited Area Rule 2014 which provides for the issue of permits and access to the WPA.

On 4 June 2014, the then Minister for Defence and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs issued a joint media release announcing that the remaining part of land known as ‘Section 400’ would be excised from the WPA following a request from the Maralinga Tjarutja people and recognition from Defence of the rare and unique circumstances of this small section of the WPA. Once the steps necessary to formally excise Section 400 from the WPA are complete, the Maralinga Tjarutja people’s access to Section 400 will no longer be restricted by Defence’s use of the WPA.

The WPA remains Australia’s most important military testing range. Although there were less testing activities during this reporting period, the complexity and number of future trials is expected to increase following the introduction of new platforms and weapons and with the upgrade of range systems.

Despite recent falls in commodity prices, the operating mines within the WPA remain economically viable. During the year a number of mineral, petroleum and, to a lesser extent, geothermal exploration tenements were active in the WPA. Exploration expenditure is expected to be more than $13 million based on current available data. Also at the time of printing, the SA Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) merged with other state government departments to form the new SA Department of State Development.

The reporting period of this annual report covers a 9-month period of 1 October 2013 to 30 June 2014. This revised period will align publication with a financial year and subsequent annual reports will be produced for the full financial year 1 July to 30 June the following year.