Cattlemen support Pastoral Land Act amendments

2490 Tom Stockwell OKLETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – We reiterate our support for the amendments to the NT Pastoral Land Act and strongly reject calls by the Northern Land Council (NLC) to have the Bill withdrawn.

 

The changes announced this week by the Northern Territory Government are largely administrative and simply improve the effectiveness of the existing legislation.

 

The purpose of the amendments is to provide certainty to pastoral enterprises around pastoral rent calculation, and provide investors with the security of tenure required to invest in diversification of the pastoral estate, which will drive further economic development and create jobs in regional and remote area.

 

The NLC sought to justify calls to have the Bill withdrawn by making several exaggerated and inflammatory claims that were factually incorrect.

 

Claims that the non-pastoral use permits were introduced by the previous NT Government, and do not require traditional owners to be notified, shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the Act.

 

Pastoralists have been able to diversify their businesses under the Pastoral Land Act since it was first created in 1992 through Non-Pastoral Use Permits (NPU).

 

These permits were simply refined in 2014 and include the requirement for native title holders to be notified when an application is submitted. Claims that native title holders are not notified are false. If anything, engagement with native title holders has been strengthened by the recent amendments, and the changes announced on Wednesday add another layer of transparency to the Act.

 

Referring to pastoral leases as “grazing licences” is inferring that pastoralists do not have formal ownership of their land.

 

The NTCA rejects the NLC’s reference to pastoral leases as an informal arrangement, with the majority of the pastoral estate in the NT being held under the tenure of perpetual pastoral lease, a formal agreement between the lessee and the Crown, and a significant land tenure type for the growth of the Australian agriculture industry, especially in the NT.

 

There are numerous examples of traditional owner groups that are already successfully participating in agricultural enterprises, including cattle production, and others that are ready, willing and able to be involved, but are increasingly more frustrated at having their efforts disrupted by the bureaucratic paralyses that the NLC is becoming infamous for.

 

If the NLC is genuinely interested in closing the gap, about creating more opportunities for Indigenous people, and about proactively participating in the sustainable development of Northern Australia, then it needs to stop running interference on every single improvement that both governments and industry make for the good of all Territorians.

 

Tom Stockwell, President (pictured)

Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association

 

 

 

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