Cattle boss gives thumbs-up to pastoral land use change


A 30 to 60 year provision for “non-pastoral” use of land under pastoral lease has been described as “certainly very interesting” by the president of the NT Cattlemen’s Association David Warriner.
“I don’t understand what the finer detail is [but it seems to include] any agricultural, irrigation, potentially grain, could be melons – any agricultural and horticultural activity, could be timber,” he says.
The changes were announced today by the Minister for Land Resource Management, Willem Westra van Holthe (pictured), as amendments to the Pastoral Land Act (PLA).
Currently, provisions for non-pastoral use of land under the PLA are restrictive and do not adequately allow for business diversification.
Non-pastoral use permits are required for any non-pastoral business enterprise on a pastoral lease, says a release from Mr van Holthe.
“The old permits were restrictive in that they were only valid for a maximum of five years and were issued to the lessee rather than the property.
“This provided no protection or certainty for long-term enterprise.
“The new amendments will see non-pastoral use permits being issued to the lease not the lessee.
“Furthermore, the five year maximum will be extended to thirty years with an option to extend.”
Five years is “not long enough to spend any money,” says Mr Warriner. “Whereas if you can do 60 years, 30 and 30, you can go and spend a million bucks.”
Would it permit getting in joint venturers?
“If it is attached to the lease and not the land owner – that is interesting I’ve never heard that before. It’s a good thing.”
Says Mr van Holthe: “This will pave the way for pastoralists to diversify their land use and provide their business an opportunity for long term planning.
“This will make viable a host of non-pastoral industries such as tourism, forestry, agriculture and horticulture.
“After the Federal Government’s live cattle ban many pastoralists are struggling with decreased land values and cash flow.
“These amendments will enable pastoralists to diversify their land rather than relying solely on the cattle industry.
“The Country Liberals Governments wants to support our pastoralists and not restrict their business opportunities.”
Non-pastoral use permits will continue to be issued by the Pastoral Land Board.
The amendments are expected to pass through Parliament as a matter of urgency, says the release from Mr van Holthe.


  1. Just so long an any “non-pastural” activity does NOT include coal steam gas extraction and fracking. These practices has been shown to be dangerous in other jurisdictions around Australia (e.g. Queensland) and internationally (United States of America). There is significant empirical evidence globally to support the denial of such activity anywhere in our country.
    Whatever “spin” is offered around these “business opportunities” needs to be carefully monitored. Attaching the licence to a property rather than a lease could also impact negatively if not monitored carefully. 30 to 60 years is more than enough time to destroy water tables. Then what?

  2. A change of land use that will lead to a diverse and sustainable food supply must be good for the Northern Territory and the country’s exports. Agricultural, horticultural or any food producing land in an area reliant on water from aquifers or other ground water sources will need to be protected from potential contamination.
    Willem Westra van Holthe MLA, Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries, Minister for Mines and Energy, Minister for Land Resource Management and Minister for Essential Services is in a position to implement policies, legislation and management regimes to prevent any potential negative impact on any food producing land or food production in the Northern Territory.
    A clean and uncontaminated food product will be easier to market than a product that has a question mark attached to it.
    Therefore Mining and Exploration approvals or activities associated with the practice of hydraulic fracking or the introduction of chemicals into land containing groundwater will need to be managed with some vigour. Phil and other readers please see my previous comments on this.

  3. Bob Taylor @ 24 March. Once again, “a change of land use” raises the spectre of poor alcohol management in the NT. With disproportionate Indigenous representation in the Justice and Health sectors, any benefit from a “change of land use” for agriculture or horticulture must include a sensible alcohol management plan for the whole of NT if it is to address Indigenous disadvantage in the general population.
    The current seven days per week takeaway regime, a lack of implementation of a floor price which has been sensibly entertained by a number of countries in the past twelve months and the abandonment for political, rather than practical purposes of the Banned Drinker’s Register (BDR), does not provide any confidence in the philosophy or logic of the NTG towards increased Law and Order or economic prosperity for all.
    It is riddled with contradiction and the opposite will follow as has been forewarned by many Territorians in business, the judiciary, police and bureaucrats. So let’s stop fooling ourselves that the current NTG policy on alcohol management will deliver any sustainable benefit.


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