WA big guns fire on Redman

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Heytesbury Cattle Company director Paul Holmes a Court.
Camera IconHeytesbury Cattle Company director Paul Holmes a Court. Credit: The West Australian

Three of the biggest names in WA business have taken concerns about Nationals leader Terry Redman to the Federal Government in the latest round of a battle over land use laws.

Mr Redman is refusing to give ground on plans to axe the Pastoral Lands Board as part of legislative changes affecting 90 per cent of the State.

Paul Holmes a Court, two executives from Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and former premier Richard Court, representing Kerry Stokes-owned Australian Capital Equity, met Northern Australia Minister Josh Frydenberg in Perth on Thursday.

The future of WA pastoral leases was a hot topic at the meeting, also attended by Liberal senator Dean Smith and Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook.

Mr Holmes a Court, who is one of Australia’s top cattlemen with 160,000 head spread across 2.5 million hectares, said Mr Frydenberg had been made aware of flaws in legislation Mr Redman hopes to ram through State Parliament this year.

“Land tenure and terms of land tenure are fundamental to development of northern Australia,” he said. “So if something planned in WA is going to make those things less secure, more risky and less attractive, then the Minister for Northern Australia is going to be interested.”

Mr Holmes a Court said he was not speaking for ACE or Hancock Prospecting, which also have cattle stations and share similar concerns.

The Heytesbury Cattle Company director said the “so-called Redman reforms” were doomed to fail in Parliament. He did not elaborate but there is growing opposition in Liberal ranks.

“These are not the reforms we need,” Mr Holmes a Court said.

“This will end up failing and we’ll miss the opportunity for reforms that make WA pastoralists more competitive.”

Mr Holmes a Court said the pastoral industry should be wary of the Pew Charitable Trust’s support for the Redman reforms. US-based Pew uses a multibillion-dollar fund to back conservation projects.

Pew put its name to a recent letter drop in Perth’s western suburbs lobbying support for the Redman package.

Mr Redman said his Bill was “the best opportunity to enact reforms the pastoral industry and other rangelands stake-holders have been calling on for decades”.

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