NT cattlemen welcome rejection of Non-Pastoral Use permit changes

Beef Central, 14/10/2019

An irrigated fodder growing operation near Alice Springs.


Northern Territory cattle producers have welcomed news the NT Government will not proceed with proposed amendments to Non-Pastoral Use permits.

If passed the proposed amendments to the Pastoral Land Act 1992 would have granted native title holders procedural rights when a Non-Pastoral Use Permit (NPU) is granted is in certain circumstances. a statement this morning NT Government said the NT Cattleman’s Association and Land Councils met for the first time to discuss the proposed amendments, but were unable to form a collaborative view about the objectives of the proposed amendments.

“Notwithstanding our view of the importance of the policy, the Northern Territory Government has determined not to proceed with the proposed amendments to the Pastoral Land Act,” the NT Government statement said.

“We acknowledge that the Land Councils have been strong advocates for these changes and we encourage the continuation of meetings between the Land Councils and the NTCA so that the sustainable development and economic opportunity of the pastoral estate can be realised, for all Territorians.

“The Territory Labor Government will continue to work cooperatively with the Land Councils to develop economic opportunities for the Northern Territory,” Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Eva Lawler, said.

“We will continue to provide opportunities for Aboriginal Economic Development on their land such as the establishment of Strategic Aboriginal Water Reserves through a legislative basis in the Water Act.”

The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association said the decision not to proceed with changes to the nonpastoral use permit system in the Pastoral Lands Act was a sensible policy outcome.

NTCA chief executive officer Ashley Manicaros said the cattle industry believed the proposed changes would stifle economic investment if they proceeded.

“Good policy should be driven by solid economic foundations especially when it comes to a desire to diversify an economy,” Mr Manicaros said.

“At this point the changes will not proceed. We can now get on with the job of creating even more jobs in the $1.2 billion cattle industry free of any immediate excess red tape.”

The NTCA warned against the changes being made in September, suggesting they would have dire consequences for future agricultural investment in the Territory in they went ahead – see earlier article here

Background to Diversification on Pastoral Land from NT Government Statement:

The Pastoral Land Act 1992 currently provides for the diversification of the pastoral estate via:

  • The grant of a 30 year term Non-Pastoral Use Permit (NPU);
  • The NPU being registerable on the title and transferable with sale; and
  • The sublease of an NPU, where the NPU holder (or pastoralist) is able to sublease the diversification activity of the permit to a third party, which is registered on the title and transferable at sale.

To enhance further diversification and provide security for increased economic development opportunities, this included a provision for a pastoralist to sublease a non-pastoral diversification activity to a third party, which would also be registered on the title, and transferable at sale.

The Northern Territory Government has held extensive discussions with the Northern and Central Land Councils and the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association whilst the sub-leasing provisions have been re-instated further discussions need to continue regarding procedural rights for native title holders. As a result the legislation will not be introduced whilst these discussions continue.

Other policies this Government is implementing to increase opportunities for economic development by Aboriginal people on their land, include the re-establishment of Strategic Aboriginal Water Reserves, the provision of funding to support Aboriginal ranger groups to undertake their crucial front-line services on country, and the progressing of a Treaty for the Northern Territory.

Source: NT Government, NTCA




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  1. Rod Dunbar, 29/10/2019

    The ability to branch out into other activities on NT Pastoral land is well and truly constrained by native title – the point that seems to be missed here is any new use that is not authorized by the Pastoral Land Act would be a future act under the Native Title Act requiring the agreement of the native title parties. This article implies that a sublease guarantees a form of quasi freehold not subject to Native Title. Well I’m afraid that’s wrong .
    A sub-lease can only be for the same activities permitted by the lease otherwise it will trigger the “future act” provision of the Native Title Act .
    Some of us want further development and to achieve that there must be security of tenure; that can only be achieved by conversion to Freehold; and the Pastoral Land Act amendments need to reflect that; its happened in QLD and other States so why not the NT?
    If the Government wants Communal Land with multiple owners with Land Councils holding the whip hand with superior title under native title, stagnation will be the order of the day.
    Why would anyone want to develop rented land without ownership and security?

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