The Queensland Government has taken the first step to address
the land tenure reform pleas of farmers Queensland-wide with the
introduction of the Land and Other Legislation Amendment Bill
2014 (Bill) into Parliament.
Delivering the recommendations of the Parliamentary
Committee's 'Inquiry into the future and continued
relevance of government land tenure across Queensland'
(Inquiry), the Bill stands to revolutionise and
restructure Queensland's land tenure system to provide
leasehold land owners greater security of tenure over $60 billion
worth of leasehold land.
State of play
Approximately 68% of Queensland is currently state-owned land
administered under the Land Act 1994 (Cth)
(Act) amounting to 118,420,876 hectares worth in
excess of $60 billion. Farmers of this land have long argued that
the lack of security provided by leasehold rights makes it
difficult to access funding, causing an unnatural brake on
long-term planning and investment in the agricultural industry.
Although financiers have made it clear that the key factor in
securing finance is a leaseholder's demonstrated ability to
repay the loan by generating cash flow, the Queensland Premier has
acknowledged that improved security of tenure will give primary
producers greater confidence to invest in their properties and
deliver greater negotiating power with financiers to the rural
The Bill implements the first phase of intended state land
tenure reforms. These reforms are set to improve tenure security
for term leases used for agriculture, grazing and pastoral purposes
introducing a simpler renewal process through rolling
(automatically renewing) lease terms for rural leasehold land over
100ha in area
simplifying conversion to freehold title by removing the
out-dated requirement for a pastoral purpose term lease to convert
to a perpetual lease tenure prior to conversion to freehold
removing red tape to allow lessees to consolidate multiple
adjoining leases (where held by the same lessee)
removing statutory restrictions on corporations holding certain
pastoral holdings and individuals holding two or more holdings, if
the aggregation would equate to more than two living areas
establishing a more affordable and streamlined rural leasehold
land rent and purchase price regime.
The proposed amendments largely reflect stakeholder aspirations
and the Queensland Government's response to the Inquiry. They
will allow for the implementation of land tenure solutions designed
to support growth and provide opportunities for the agricultural
sector by removing and/or streamlining tenure administration
processes throughout the Act.
Rolling lease extensions will remove the requirement for rural
leaseholders to enter into land management agreements at the time
of renewal and will eliminate the need for a further re-assessment
or consideration of the most appropriate use and tenure for the
land. Leases will be rolled over for the length of the original
term (ie 30 year rollover for a 30 year lease), and leaseholders
can apply for a renewal of their lease in the last 20 years of that
lease. This means leaseholders could effectively secure the next 50
years of their land tenure, thereby arguably creating greater
comfort around long-term investment in the property.
The removal of red tape relating to the conversion of leasehold
land to freehold, consolidation of multiple adjoining leases and
existing restrictions on corporations holding certain pastoral
leases is intended to encourage both local and foreign investment
in the agricultural sector, generating economic benefits in these
Queensland is ideally positioned to take advantage of the
forecasted increase in global demand for food, fibre and other high
valued agricultural goods over the next 20 to 30 years.
At a farm gate level, it remains to be seen how far the reforms
will go in providing flexibility and savings in terms of land rent
and purchase price concessions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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