WA pastoralists have avoided paying huge rent increases of up to 400 per cent — collectively saving millions of dollars each year — after the valuer general investigated a barrage of objections over hikes announced in 2019. Local government authorities in the Kimberley and Pilbara will also have to reduce shire rates and possibly offer refunds, given some had followed the VG’s earlier methodology and imposed steep rent increases. Pastoral rents in WA are independently determined every five years by the VG, with rents based on land values, the economic state of the pastoral industry and the rate of return. After the last review in 2019, pastoralists were initially told their rents for the following five years would increase by an average 325 per cent in the Kimberley, with some as high as 400 per cent. Kimberley pastoralists who objected will pay an average 104 per cent increase instead. Pastoralists in the Pilbara faced a 91 per cent rise, but will now pay 10 per cent. Gascoyne/Goldfields rates were to increase by 58 per cent on average but will now fall by 7 per cent. Southern Rangelands pastoralists will see their rents fall by an average 3 per cent, instead of increasing by 8 per cent. The reduced rents follow an investigation after 103 pastoralists lodged objections to the increases. The VG confirmed today these objections had all been allowed. David Stoate, chairman of the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association, said the announcement was a major relief to the industry and a victory for KPCA, which had supported pastoralists. He said while the new increases were far more palatable, pastoralists in the Kimberley would still be stung. Mr Stoate, who had been paying $27,000 a year rent at his Anna Plains Station near Broome, faced a $104,000 bill if the hikes had eventuated. Following the revision, he expects to pay $55,000-$67,000. David Menzel, Shire President for Wyndham East Kimberley, said his council set rates based on the VG’s methodology. Mr Menzel said the council would continue to do this, but the mechanics of backdating adjustments if pastoralists had overpaid — whether by credits or refunds — would need to be determined by the council. Refunds won’t be an issue for rents, as pastoralists who had objected were paying their former rents while the issue was being resolved. A statement from the VG said the revised rents would only apply when an objection had been received and allowed. The objection process has been extended until June 30 this year to allow others who have not yet objected to do so. There are about 400 pastoral leases in WA. A spokeswoman for Landgate said it was working with the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to review the pastoral rent setting methodology to enable both local government and pastoralists to plan with more certainty.