Overview

The WA Government is proposing to reform Crown land tenure in the State. In June 2016, the Land Administration Amendment Bill 2016 (Amending Bill) will be introduced into Parliament. Broadly, the Amending Bill seeks to make focused changes to Part 7 of theLand Administration Act 1997 (WA) (LAA) dealing with pastoral leases, with a view to accelerating and encouraging the future sustainable development and diversification of the Rangelands region.

In April 2016, the draft Amending Bill will be made available for public consultation and submissions. Holders of WA pastoral land interests should consider the impact of the proposed changes on them and monitor the timetable for the feedback sessions and submissions on the draft Amending Bill. Times for the stakeholder forums to be held in major centres around the State are available on the WA Department of Lands’ website. For more information, please contact Teresa Lusi.     

The Rangelands

The WA Rangelands, which comprises of Crown owned land, covers 87% of the State’s total land mass and is divided into seven sub-regions, as shown on the map. Pastoral leases are currently granted over approximately one-third of the Rangelands. The Rangelands contribute significantly to the wealth of the State and Australia, not just economically, but also socially, culturally and environmentally. Following an extensive consultation process with government agencies and other stakeholders, the Minister for Lands has proposed changes to Part 7 of the LAA in an attempt to increase the future economic viability of the Rangelands, create opportunities for innovation through sustainable development and diverse land use of the Rangelands, and achieve greater security of tenure for pastoral lessees so as to encourage investment.  

Key changes

The LAA currently focuses on the administration of pastoral leases. The permitted use of land subject to a pastoral lease is currently limited to grazing of livestock and some agriculture and horticulture. However, over half of the Rangelands is used for non-pastoral purposes such as mining, petroleum and gas operations, conservation and tourism. This means that these land uses are outside of the LAA and the pastoral lease system. The Amending Bill aims to create a modernised land tenure process known as a Rangelands lease. This lease will allow for a wider range of activities to be conducted on the land including agriculture, horticulture, tourism, conservation, Aboriginal economic development and land management and environmental offsets by mining companies, with the ultimate aim of attracting new entrants into underutilised areas of the region to undertake these activities.

Below is a table summarising the key changes to the LAA in the Amending Bill.

Click here to view table