Legislative amendments introduced yesterday will unlock the development potential of the pastoral estate, according to the NT Government. Picture: Alison Haines
PROPOSED new legislation introduced into the Northern Territory Parliament yesterday will enable pastoral lease holders to diversify their business enterprises, attract investment from third-party investors and simplify the process of calculating and predicting their annual pastoral rent bills.
The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association has welcomed the new Pastoral Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, saying it has been working with the NT Government for some years to achieve the ‘objective and common-sense amendments’ involved, to encourage encourage investment and growth in the NT cattle industry.
NT Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Lauren Moss, said key features of the Bill include provisions which will:
- Enable the grant of subleases for a range of non-pastoral purposes;
- Change the basis for rent methodology to estimated carrying capacity (productivity);
- Allow for an increase in the number of people on the Pastoral Land Board.
She said the legislation will unlock the development potential of the pastoral estate.
“The proposed amendments will allow pastoral lease holders in the NT to diversify their business enterprises and boost the economy through further supporting diversification and investment in the pastoral estate. They will also support contemporary management of the pastoral estate,” Ms Moss said.
“Broadening sublease options are a key component of the legislative changes. Specifically, subleases for non-pastoral uses will expand the range of existing uses to include horticulture, agriculture, aquaculture and forestry and will be registered on the title to provide a security for investors.
“These improved subleasing arrangements are also in line with earlier amendments to the non-pastoral use provisions which have resulted in 14 permits for activities ranging from tourism to irrigated agriculture so we know it will drive new activity.
“The NT Cattlemen’s Association has long advocated for changes to the Pastoral Land Act to allow for diversification in land use and provide secure tenure arrangements and certainty around subleasing. We have listened.
“Refining the rent methodology based on a pastoral property’s capacity to deliver an economic return also has industry support and is an established and stable metric. The current system based on Unimproved Capital Value has proven to be less stable and has previously led to uncertainty in the industry.
“An increase in Pastoral Land Board membership will enable the quorum of four to more easily be obtained and decisions made in a more timely manner.
“The proposed amendments also resolve a number of minor anomalies in the Act, which have been clarified or resolved by:
- Strengthening the consent to transfer provisions to ensure that all proposals to transfer ownership or a controlling interest, such as through a majority shareholding, are assessed
- Aligning the payment periods for pastoral rent with standard Government terms for receivables being 30 days from invoice date
- Rectifying an anomaly regarding penalties for late payment of pastoral rent.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the pastoral industry on improvements to our legislative framework to support jobs and economic growth in our regional and remote communities.”
NTCA President Tom Stockwell, of Sunday Creek Station near Daly Waters, said the proposed amendments provided simplicity and stability in calculating rents for pastoral businesses in the NT and will encourage investment and growth in the development of the NT cattle industry.
“The changes announced today by the Northern Territory Government provide certainty to pastoral enterprises, and provide investors with the security of tenure required to invest in diversification of the pastoral estate.
“The NTCA identified the issues in the Act some years ago, and has worked diligently with Department of Environment and Natural Resources staff to develop these objective and common-sense amendments that will deliver tangible benefits to business processes of both pastoral enterprises and the NT Government.
“Changing the methodology for calculating annual pastoral rent from an Unimproved Capital Value (UCV) based model to an Unimproved Carrying Capacity (UCC) model will simplify the calculation process and provide greater consistency and objectivity across the pastoral estate” Mr Stockwell said.
“Using the unimproved carrying capacities agreed to by the pastoral industry during the 2015 calculation, businesses now have the ability to budget accurately for their annual pastoral rent bill instead of having to wait until a valuation occurs, which can fluctuate significantly.”
In addition to the vastly improved pastoral rent calculation process, the NT Government also introduced important changes that allow for formal sub-lease arrangements to be registered to the title, enabling lease holders to attract investment from a third party and providing security for investors and their business partners.
Mr Stockwell stated that “currently, under the Pastoral Land Act, sub-leases cannot be issued for horticulture, agriculture, forestry or aquaculture purposes. The changes announced today will contemporise the Act and bring the sub-lease provisions in line with the non-pastoral use provisions to further promote development and diversification on pastoral leases.
“Ensuring the Pastoral Land Board has the capacity to deliver on its functions is critical for the pastoral industry. The NTCA looks forward to maintaining strong pastoralist representation on the Board as its membership is increased.
Mr Stockwell said the cooperation and collaboration between the NT Government and the NTCA to deliver the changes was a good result for Territorians.
“The NTCA congratulates the Northern Territory Government for working closely with our Association and pastoralists to put these amendments in place. Not only that, but the changes also assist further growth and development of the pastoral industry, and therefore enhance the already significant contribution that the cattle industry makes to the Northern Territory economy”.
Source: NT Government, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association