MacTiernan warns pastoralists to work together on reform

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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Steven and Matthew Brockhurst from Larrawa Station and Mariah Maughan from Northern Beef Futures at the KPCA conference.
Camera IconSteven and Matthew Brockhurst from Larrawa Station and Mariah Maughan from Northern Beef Futures at the KPCA conference. Credit: The Kimberley Echo

Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan plans to rewrite laws affecting economic activity in WA’s north within the next nine months.

But she fired a warning to the pastoral industry that if it could not work together on its requirements by April, the Government would walk away from efforts to reform the rangelands, which represent about 90 per cent of the State’s land area.

At yesterday’s Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association annual conference, Ms MacTiernan said after eight years of failed negotiations under the previous government she wanted to get draft legislation to Cabinet by mid next year.

The proposed reforms centre on creating a more flexible form of land tenure which does not restrict economic activity to the grazing of livestock, while giving pastoralists more security of tenure on their leases.

Ms MacTiernan, who recently assumed lead responsibility for the rangelands, said she was not wedded to the abolition of the Pastoral Lands Board, though a mechanism had to be put in place to ensure it fulfilled the right duties.

The proposed abolition of the lands board by former lands minister Terry Redman was fiercely opposed by the Pastoralists and Graziers Association, whose influence on the Liberal Party was blamed for the failure to get draft legislation on the Cabinet agenda last year after many years of work.

Ms MacTiernan said carbon farming would have to be part of the mix in creating a new income stream, while promoting greater sustainability.

She said the PLB had been charged with consulting industry and would report back.

“I have said to KPCA they must work together with PGA and have a unified submission,” she said.

“Not everyone is going to get everything they absolutely want. Unless we can get a consensus to emerge, this effort will not go anywhere.”

She said she wanted to reconvene with the whole of industry in April to discuss a package and gauge support.

She warned members at the KPCA conference if there was not agreement and support at that point, the Government would drop its attempts to rewrite the laws.

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