Rangeland laws an ‘opportunity’

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Conservation groups see opportunity for pastoralists in proposed rangelands laws.
Camera IconConservation groups see opportunity for pastoralists in proposed rangelands laws. Credit: The West Australian

A not-for-profit group campaigning for changes to the Land Administration Act fears pastoralists and others will miss out on valuable opportunities if the legislation is blocked.

The Partnership of the Outback, made up of the Pew Charitable Trust, the Conservation Council of WA, Bush Heritage Australia and the Wildflower Society of WA, is backing the changes proposed by Nationals WA leader Terry Redman.

Pew’s WA outback manager David Mackenzie said the group saw rangelands reform as an historic opportunity to take the brakes off the bush and deliver new opportunities for families in remote parts of WA.

“The need for these reforms has been well known to government for over 40 years and we encourage the Government to deliver on its commitments now so that the benefits can be realised for people and the land,” he said.

Mr Mackenzie said Pew regarded pastoralism as integral to WA’s future. It was not interested in becoming a landholder and supported measures to control feral animals.

He rejected suggestions Pew and the other groups had singled out Agriculture Minister Dean Nalder in their campaign.

“Mr Nalder was one of a large number of MPs which the Partnership has encouraged West Australians to contact,” he said.

Mr Nalder is seeking more information on the reform package that Mr Redman wants to get through Parliament this year.

The Pastoralists and Graziers Association is opposed to the moves which include scrapping the Pastoral Lands Board.

The proposals create a new form of tenure called a rangelands lease. Mr Redman wants to attract more investment and economic diversity in 230 million hectares the Government regards as under-utilised. Pastoral leases, which allow livestock grazing but little else, cover about 85 million hectares.

Legal opinion suggests that under the reforms a breach of various land management Acts, including the Environmental Protection Act, could be deemed a breach of the lease and potentially result in its forfeiture.

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