Queensland premier Campbell Newman has unveiled changes to leasehold land renewals which he says will provide clear pathways for farmers and graziers to upgrade from leasehold to freehold land.
“We have listened to farm lobby groups such as AgForce and the Queensland Farmers Federation when they tell us that improved security of tenure gives primary producers the confidence to invest in their properties and delivers greater negotiating power with their banks.
"Today I can announce that almost 3000 rural producers across Queensland will soon be able to automatically renew their ‘term’ leases, rather than facing uncertainty every time their lease is due for renewal.
“Under these important changes rural lessees will enjoy 60-years of “rolling” tenure, allowing them to make long term investment decisions that will help meet Queensland’s target of doubling agricultural production by 2040.
“Further, the State Government is committed to identifying suitable pathways for rural lessees who may be interested in upgrading their perpetual and term leases to freehold tenure.
“We understand that for some landholders, the opportunity to upgrade the most secure form of tenure is important, and we will continue to work with rural lobby groups on developing options for that to occur.”
Further detail on the government’s plan to boost security of rural land tenure is contained in the State Government’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the future and continued relevance of government land tenure across Queensland report, considered by State Cabinet today.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the report builds on significant changes already made by the Newman government to streamline the lease renewal process.
“We have already removed page after page of unnecessary paperwork enforced by the previous Labor government when primary producers sought to renew their long-term leases,” Mr Seeney said.
“Our approach to land tenure is in stark contrast to Labor’s fixation with applying layer upon layer of green tape on rural businesses.
“We will boost rather than stifle investment certainty in the Bush, and today’s announcements take the first important step to reform Queensland’s land tenure system.”
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said his Department will continue to work hard, in consultation with industry, to progress the detail of today’s announcements.
“Existing Land Management Agreements are set to become a partnership arrangement between landholders and the State Government to ensure environmental outcomes are delivered more effectively and efficiently,” Mr Cripps said.
“We will continue to work with farm groups to design a land tenure system that provides certainty for Queensland agriculture with key reforms due to be delivered by the middle of next year.”
More information on the government’s plan for land tenure is available online at www.dnrm.qld.gov.au
AgForce congratulates Govt on changes
In response to the Qld Govt announcement, AgForce said it congratulated the Government for taking initial steps towards relieving the burden placed on the state’s primary producers by onerous land tenure arrangements.
AgForce General Manager of Policy, Lauren Hewitt, said the announced changes were a positive start to recognising the hard work of graziers in terms of both production and environmental stewardship and would allow them to better get on with the business of producing food.
“AgForce sees today’s announcement as a positive one in terms of recognising that science has proven more than 85pc of our grazing land is kept in good condition by lessees.
“Furthermore, the fact 3000 rural producers will now be able to automatically renew their ‘term’ leases, rather than facing uncertainty every time their lease is due for renewal also provides significantly more certainty and security for industry participants.
“We congratulate Government on taking on board the recommendations of both AgForce and the Parliamentary Committee on land tenure in making these changes.”
However, Ms Hewitt said two key issues remained unaddressed by Government that were critical to comprehensively solving issues faced by rural land lessees across the state.
“Almost 67pc of the landmass of Queensland is leasehold and certainly today does help better secure their future,” Ms Hewitt said.
“However, we still urgently require Government to implement a new leasehold land rental methodology and to put in place an affordable freeholding program.
“The current systems in place are built upon ill-considered policy of the previous Government.
“If these issues are not remedied many hundreds of primary producers could be forced from the industry.
“Again we acknowledge today’s announcement as laying solid groundwork for future reform however urge Government to recognise the need for additional work to secure long term viability of the sector.”
Source: Qld Govt/AgForce