The NT Parliament has been debating proposed amendments to the Pastoral Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, in a bid to ensure the contemporary management of pastoral estates.
Subleasing arrangement were introduced as part of the amendments in October 2017.
However, the Government has made the decision to progress the Bill without the sublease provisions, to allow more time for discussions with stakeholders and for workable models to be developed for increased native title rights and to maximize agricultural jobs and the economic prosperity of the North.
The key amendments proposed in this Bill address a new pastoral lease rent methodology, and address administrative anomalies and prescribe limitations that affect the composition of the Pastoral Land Board.
The Government said it was continuing discussions with the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association (NTCA) and land councils to progress models for granting non-pastoral use permissions on pastoral land that recognise the rights of native title holders.
Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Eva Lawler said: “We have been talking through these issues with both land councils and the NTCA and they have also been considered by the independent Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee, which recommended better protecting the rights of native land holders.
“The Government is progressing subleasing in the Pastoral Land Act but this is contingent on agreement on a model for increased procedural rights for native title holders in the issuing of a non-pastoral use permit.”
Opposition leader Gary Higgins has called on the government to give certainty to the pastoral sector by naming a date when the sublease sections of the Pastoral Land Legislation Amendment Billdropped from the Bill will be introduced to Parliament.
“The government has dropped the ball on an opportunity to drive investment, jobs and growth.
“This whole process has been a schmozzle.
“Today, we should have passed a Bill to create jobs and drive private investment, but instead, the Labor government did not consult with the Northern Land Council and as a result, shut the gate on opportunities for one of the Territory’s most important industries.
“The industry and Territory needs opportunity, investment and jobs. It’s time for the government to stick to its word, be brave and be urgent.
“Industry tells me that with this Labor government the only certainty is uncertainty.
“Critical matters are under review or up in the air – Water and Environmental Protection legislation, as well as what a Treaty might mean,” Mr Higgins said.
The Opposition welcome the changes to the rent calculation methodology, and the increase to the size of the Pastoral Land Board. However, there is clearly more to do when it comes to formally recognising non pastoral use subleasing.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.