By ERWIN CHLANDA
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.
By ERWIN CHLANDA