Monday, 2 May 2016
Western Australia: Pastoral Industry
Mr Burton has also warned that giving the ultimate power in disputes over stocking density and other matters to the lands minister carries enormous risk. As we know, nothing stays the same in politics. Governments and ministers change. If, for example, a Western Australian Labor government came to power—heaven forbid, Senator Sterle—that was ideologically hostile to pastoralists' activity, it would spell doom for pastoralists. With all the final decision-making power concentrated in the hands of one minster, they would have nowhere to turn. It is entirely reasonable for Western Australian pastoralists to be sceptical of any proposed rangelands reform package. History has shown that the interests of pastoralists are frequently given less weight by government departments and bureaucrats than they probably deserve.
Equally legitimate are the concerns over which aspect of these proposed changes will trigger future-act provisions under the Native Title Act, leading to increased costs for pastoral lease respondents in native title determinations and destroying much of the goodwill that has been built by both parties in resolving this complex issue. No-one is suggesting that the rangelands reform process is simple; nor is anyone suggesting that the proposed legislative changes should permit pastoral leaseholders exemptions from native title or compliance with environmental regulation. There are some elements within this reform package that can provide tangible benefits for the pastoral industry and they should be supported. In fact, many of the proposed amendments under these current reforms may provide a better security of tenure and increased diversification options for pastoral leaseholders.