By DANIELLE deBRENNI
The former lessee of an Aboriginal owned cattle station wants compensation for investments he has made in the station when the lease, which had run for 10 years, was not renewed.
Ray Aylett (at right, in media photo) moved to Muckaty Station, 110 kilometres north of Tennant Creek in 1999. He says he invested more than $1m for repairs and maintenance.
But the Northern Land Council (NLC) says in 2014 the property’s grazing license tender was widely advertised. The traditional Aboriginal owners interviewed all bidders, including Mr Aylett, but he was not successful.
The NLC, which has sent Mr Aylett a notice to vacate, had previously advised him to leave the station by September 1.
Muckaty Station, a part of which had been considered for the establishment of a nuclear waste dump, has been out of lease for the past two years despite Mr Aylett’s claim to have signed and sent the relevant papers to the NLC lawyers “before they were lost”.
Mr Aylett says he has tried to ring the NLC lawyers for more than 12 months with no response.
“I have put $1.6m into Muckaty Station, protected two outstations against bush fires, given the traditional owners meat for ceremonies and meetings at Muckaty Outstation, and pumped water for them at my own expense,” says Mr Aylett.
NLC Chief Executive Joe Morrison says there has been no eviction of Mr Aylett from Muckaty Station, and any suggestion to the contrary would be “mischievous”.
He says: “Mr Aylett was granted a five year pastoral land use agreement over Muckaty Station in January 2001. The initial term was five years and Mr Aylett exercised an option to renew it for a further five years.”
The agreement expired in January 2011, and Mr Aylett had no further right of renewal, says Mr Morrison.
“Inspections of the property in July 2012 and December 2013 by an NLC pastoral officer revealed that infrastructure and assets were badly run down; bores and fencing were in serious disrepair.”
Mr Morrison says he is not aware of Mr Aylett having contacted anyone at the NLC to “fix the matter”.
Mr Aylett has vacated the station and is residing in Elliot while he fights for his compensation.
By DANIELLE deBRENNI