Lease win for pastoralists

BRAD THOMPSONThe West Australian
Lease win for pastoralists
Camera IconLease win for pastoralists Credit: The West Australian

WA pastoralists will turn their attention to rent and land tenure reform after securing a major victory on the issue of lease renewal.

Pastoralists will have the option of renewing their leases on the existing terms or signing a modern version under a deal struck with the State Government.

The deal vindicates claims by the industry that Government undertakings from the 1990s to renew the leases on existing terms when they expire in June 2015 are legally binding.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Rob Gillam said the industry would lobby for a fairer system for setting pastoral rents, which are up for review in July next year.

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Mr Gillam said the Government should consider dividing the State into zones reflecting production capacity and allow the Pastoral Lands Board to assess rents.

He said tenure reform would allow pastoralists to diversify and take advantage of investment opportunities to supplement their traditional operations.

Lands Minister Terry Redman said the agreement with the PGA gave pastoralists the option of renewing existing leases or taking up a lease with the same terms and conditions expressed in modern language.

He said the lease should be available for signing by September, giving pastoralists nine months to resolve financial and other arrangements before the June 2015 deadline.

Pastoralists must comply with lease conditions, including stocking requirements and maintenance of infrastructure, to have their agreements renewed. Letters outlining whether pastoralists meet compliance requirements for lease renewal will be sent out in March.

Mr Redman said he was committed to tenure reform to open up diversification in the pastoral industry.

"We have an agenda to try to open up the opportunities that the north presents in order for business to capitalise on them," he said. "And we need to deal with any Government barriers and right now there are some Government barriers to achieving that end and pastoral reform is about trying to reduce those barriers in a managed way."

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