Make no mistake: Labor’s Diversification Lease Reforms will see fewer Pastoral Leases renewed

The proposed implications of changes to the Land Administration Act are more profound than pastoralists who work the land probably realise because of two simple factors, said Hon Neil Thomson, Shadow Minister for Lands.

“Minister Carey has failed to enable for the co-existence between pastoral leases and diversification activities under this reform and that will see pastoralists squeezed out in the future.

“Couple that with the massive financial incentive for government to not renew pastoral leases at the end of their lease terms when there are likely to be large multinationals lining up willing to pay higher rents to Government under a Diversification Lease arrangement,” Mr Thomson said.

Mr Thomson also noted that “the term ‘Diversification Lease’ can easily lead to confusion between the existing Diversification Permit system which may have flaws but importantly retain the principle of coexistence between the underpinning pastoral tenure.

“This new form of lease, once issued, results in the extinguishment of a pastoral lease. This provision is no accident,” Mr Thomson said.

“Reforms to the Crown Land estate (including the pastoral land estate) should enable coexistence of a range of interests, rather than suppress it.

“Family-owned pastoralists are already coming under enormous pressure from billionaires and multinationals, but this reform will force more off the land because it will be very difficult for any future Minister to renew a pastoral lease if a large multi-national is knocking on government’s door willing to pay many times more the lease payment under a Diversification Lease.

“This isn’t even a reform that puts Native Title holders in the driving seat, because Government will be the recipient of lease payments.

“This doesn’t even help the development of irrigated agricultural sector because a Diversification Lease is non-exclusive – so this reform cannot be dressed up as a reform for agriculture.

“This is all about renewable energy and big business and while there needs to be a place for this industry on our rangelands, pastoralists need protection too.

“I have no confidence in this government to deal transparently and fairly with the industry given its track record on the issuance of Section 91 permits over the last two years.

“It’s vital that pastoralists make their voices heard because there are some concerning aspects which will have profound implications on the decisions of a future Minister for Lands,” said Mr Thomson.

Deadline for submissions is 13th August.