The Northern Territory Government says it is determined to see a cattle station bought with Government funding two years ago for the purposes of carbon farming returned to cattle production, now that it is back on the market.
Henbury Station, 230km south of Alice Springs, drew national attention in July 2011 when it was purchased by RM Williams Agricultural Holdings in conjunction with the Federal Government for $13 million to create the world's biggest carbon farming enterprise.
The Federal Government, under then environment minister Tony Burke, contributed $9m to the purchase.
The project was to see the 405,000 hectare property, which was carrying 17,000 cattle at the time, totally destocked and revegetated to generate carbon offset credits.
In July 2012 Qantas signed a contract to buy a significant proportion of carbon credits from the Henbury conservation project to offset its own carbon emissions.
At the time of buying the station, Mr Burke said Henbury was home to a host of rare and threatened native plants and animals, and was to have been protected under the Australia’s National Reserve System. Mr Burke said it would become an integral part of the Federal Government’s planned “Eco-Link Conservation Corridor” running from South Australia to the Northern Territory and Arafura Sea.
However, with the station's owner RM Williams Agricultural Holdings now in receivership, Henbury is now on the market.
Speaking in the NT Parliament last week, primary industries minister Willem Westra van Holthe said he believed it is important that Henbury return to being the cattle station it once was.
“The Federal Government chipped in over $9 million dollars of taxpayers’ money to purchase Henbury Station in what can be described as a misguided bit of public relations to pitch their carbon tax and carbon farming policies,” Mr Westra van Holthe said.
“No consideration was given to the industry, to the tenure of the lease or to the suitability of the land.
“The pastoral industry has suffered the most out of this. Jobs were lost and they weren’t replaced. The cattle were cleared out. The land was closed off.
“Henbury Station is on the market today and I want to make it clear that this Government wants to see it returned to being a contributing part of our economy.
“There is no point in having good land go to waste for the sake of the Federal Labor Government’s failed environmental policies.
“We don’t want our land to be tied up to compensate for the carbon emissions of industries not in the Territory.
“Henbury Station remains on a pastoral land tenure lease. Applications were never made to have this altered – this makes any non-pastoral economic activity on the land illegal.
“Pastoral land in the Territory should be used for productive purposes which contribute to the local economy and the food security of our trading partners.”
Expressions of interest for Henbury Station are due on September 6.
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