The Qld State Government has introduced a Bill which it says is
the first stage of a number of reforms to provide greater security
and help drive growth for rural lessees.
The reforms include:
Rolling leases introduced
A concept of "rolling leases" has been introduced,
allowing a simpler renewal process for certain term leases, ie most
pastoral holdings, pastoral development holdings and term leases
used for primary production where the area is over 100
The concept does not apply to leases of
reserves, ie state forests, camping and water reserves etc.
Where the concept applies, and an extension application is made
at any time in the last 20 years of the term (or earlier if special
circumstances exist), the Minister must automatically grant an
extension (subject to limited exclusions).
The length of the extension will generally be the original term
of the lease but does not include any subsequent extension.
There is no limit to the number of times a lease may be
Land Management Agreements no longer required on renewal
Under the "rolling lease" concept, Land Management
Agreements will no longer be required.
Existing Land Management Agreements can be cancelled with the
approval of the Minister.
Land Management Agreements will still be used where the lease is
at risk of degradation or the lessee is not complying with the
lessee's duty of care.
Removal of corporate and aggregation restrictions
The current restrictions on corporations holding perpetual
leases, grazing homestead perpetual leases, grazing homestead
freeholding leases and subleases of any of those leases are to be
Similarly, the requirement restricting an individual from
holding two or more of those leases if the aggregation would be
"substantially more than 2 living areas" is also to be
These restrictions have been in place for decades and were
designed to protect "family farms".
The State Government takes the view that these provisions are
"outdated, inflexible, anti-competitive and a financial impost
for both lessees and governments".
This is one of the more radical reforms with long-ranging
implications for the future of agribusiness in Australia.
Protection of state forest products on land being
The concepts of "forest consent areas" and
"forest consent agreements" are being introduced which,
in time, will replace the use of "forest entitlement
The intention is to allow the State to retain its ownership of
the forest products when leases are converted to freehold.
The forest consent agreement will be registered on the title to
the land as a "profit à prendre" resulting in a
cleaner, more efficient and modern tenure.
The changes are designed to avoid perceived problems with the
current system when the State no longer requires forest entitlement
areas and wishes to have the affected land acquired by the land
More flexibility for lease amalgamations
Currently lessees holding adjoining term leases and perpetual
leases issued for the same purpose cannot amalgamate their leases
into a single tenure as of right.
This restriction is to be removed to allow the lessee to
consolidate multiple adjoining leases as long as the leases are
held by the same lessee, have been issued for the same purpose and
native title has been addressed.
The latter requirement may mean that the proposed reform has
little application in practice.
The need for term leases to be converted to perpetual leases
before being allowed to be converted to freehold is also to be
removed. While potentially this offers lessees greater flexibility,
the need to address native title again means that this change may
have limited application. Furthermore, the introduction of the
concept of "rolling leases" and the resulting increased
security may render conversion to freehold less appealing.
The State Government states that there has been no community or
stakeholder consultation on the specific provisions of the Bill
relating to the reforms but that they reflect stakeholder
aspirations and the Government's response to the Parliamentary
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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Many retail leases include a covenant to trade, requiring the tenant to open the premises for trade during certain hours.
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