Pastoralists get a rent cut

31 Jul, 2014 02:00 AM
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What mechanisms were used to make this decision and what took them so long?

WESTERN Australian pastoralists have welcomed a decrease in their rent agreements, but wish it had come sooner.

The Lands Department has cut rents by an average 41.6 per cent across WA pastoral leases.

The Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) chairman Tony Seabrook welcomed the reduction, though he is still sceptical for the future.

"Some may have higher reductions than others," Mr Seabrook said.

"Just the same as some leases had huge hikes a few years ago.

"One thing that is concerning, if they can give us a reduction this year, they could decide to put it back up to an even higher percentage next time."

The reduction comes as some rent had increased 200pc and in some cases by 400pc in 2009.

Regional Development and Lands Minister Terry Redman said rents were independently reviewed by the Valuer-General every five years, under the Land Administration Act 1997.

Mr Redman said 507 pastoral leases across WA would be reduced by an average 41.6pc.

But he said while most lessees would receive significant reductions in their pastoral rent, a small number on the minimum rent would face an increase.

"This reduction reflects the challenges facing the State's pastoral industry and should come as a welcome relief to many pastoralists," Mr Redman said.

"The rent review is based on market conditions and reflects increasing costs, live export restrictions and cattle prices which have all had a significant impact on the industry in recent years."

High rent prices were paid for the past five years.

Though Mr Seabrook said it was unlikely that a reimbursement would be given, he advised pastoralists to check their new figures.

Mr Seabrook was uncertain about the "welfare act" in rent reduction.

"If they could put it up so much a few years ago, how did they decide to put it down now?" Mr Seabrook said.

"What mechanisms were used to make this decision and what took them so long?

"It is definitely welcomed relief, but a few years ago when live-export crashed, some pastoralists were having to pay high rent, plus rates with little or no income."

Mr Seabrook said the worst hit with the hike in 2009, were those in the Kimberley region.

"One pastoralist has an increase of 400pc, the highest I know of - so I am sure they will be thankful for the reduction," Mr Seabrook said.

"Others were doing it tough too, especially in the Kimberley."

Kimberley PGA chairman Peter Camp, Kalyeeda Station in the Kimberley, said the rent reduction would help pastoralists, especially in the North.

During the ban on live exports to Indonesia, pastoralists were able to have a payment plan on their rent, but Mr Camp said there was no waver, or reduction when they were doing it tough.

"I haven't checked my figures yet," Mr Camp said.

"But a reduction will definitely help our pastoralists."

Pastoral leases are due to expire in June next year and would be renewed on July 1, 2015.

The lands department will offer leasing options, which are yet to be decided - as the long-awaited decision on the terms and conditions is yet to be decided.

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