Govt chooses 40-year lease model

15 Dec, 2004 10:00 PM
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THE Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) has expressed concern about the detail of the State Government's 40-year rolling lease model announced on the weekend.

At a PGA pastoral committee meeting in Port Hedland, Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the government had agreed to a fixed term lease of 40 years, which could be topped up every 10 years providing pastoralists passed two sustainability reviews.

According to Ms MacTiernan, this meant that provided a pastoral lease was properly managed, pastoralists would always have a minimum of 30 years remaining on the lease, which would deliver adequate security for investment and ensure a better standard of land use practice.

A new peak body, the Rangelands Council, would be established to oversee the sustainable use and management of the rangelands, while the Pastoral Lands Board (PLB) would continue to administer pastoral leases.

But PGA pastoral director Edgar Richardson said that more information on the model was required before a decision could be made.

"We are concerned about the make-up of the Rangelands Council, the 20-year exclusion process, and public access issues on pastoral leases that we don't believe have been addressed," Mr Richardson said.

"We respect the right of the minister to resume pastoral leasehold land for the public good, however we have huge problem with the 20-year exclusion process, and our concern lies in the fact that other stakeholders who think they can run the country better than pastoralists would get involved.

"Our concern with the Rangelands Council is that the landlord would be the regulator and there would be ten people on the council with only two representatives from the pastoral industry."

But Ms MacTiernan said that the Rangelands Council involved working with other groups in the community.

"The idea of the Rangelands Council came out of the working group recommendations that pastoralists were involved in after the Gascoyne musters," she said.

Mr Richardson said that the PGA had also received the Liberal Party proposal , which included a 50-year model with a renewal process to take place every 25 years.

He said the detail of both Liberal and Labor policies would be closely looked at.

Ms MacTiernan said that unless there was solid support for the 40-year rolling lease model, the government would not proceed with it.

"I consider this proposal to be an incredible step forward for the pastoral industry - it is a model that Cabinet is prepared to sign off on and I think it gives the pastoral industry as much as it could expect to get," she said.

"When it comes to the 20-year renewal process, pastoralists must realise they can't have a total monopoly and control over the land; if leasehold land is required by the community for other purposes, provision must be made to be able to take it back for the community.

"We have to balance the interests of those 400 pastoralists with more than a million other people in the state, and the interests of the broader community must be protected."

An interim Rangelands Council will be appointed in March next year to help prepare the detail of the legislation.

The State Government hoped to have the legislation passed through Parliament by the end of 2005.

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