Public consultation of the proposed reforms commenced in early
April, with submissions on the Draft Bill due by 5 May 2016.
The centrepiece of rangelands reform is the introduction of the
new rangelands lease, which may be granted for any purpose that is
"principally consistent with the preservation and ongoing
management of the rangelands as a natural resource". Possible
permitted uses under a rangelands lease included agriculture,
tourism, Aboriginal economic development, conservation,
environmental offsets and the general of carbon credits, as well as
pastoral purposes. The Draft Bill has provided some clarity to the
treatment of the rangelands lease under the mining and native title
The Draft Bill makes it clear that the future act process under
the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) will need to be followed as part of
the conversion of a pastoral lease to a rangelands lease, or the
grant of a rangelands lease over "new" ground. The future
act process will also apply in relation to any extension of
pastoral leases which is provided for by the Draft Bill. The
negotiation of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement
(ILUA) between the lessee and the native title
holders will generally be required to navigate the future act
Proponents will be responsible for all costs relating to native
title, including negotiation and meeting costs, any compensation,
and registration of the ILUA. The State is, however, proposing to
provide guidelines and an ILUA template to assist proposed
Amendments to Mining Act
The proposed consequential amendments to the Mining Act 1978
(WA) confirm that the rangelands lease will be treated in the same
way as pastoral leases under the Mining Act. Some of the
significant provisions under the proposed amendments provide:
the Minister for Mines must agree to any change, or variation,
to the permitted uses under a rangelands lease; and
the access provisions will apply to a rangelands lease in the
same way as to a pastoral lease, except that the restriction for
mining access will also include restrictions to access within 100
metres of a "substantial structure" to take into account
possible uses under a rangelands lease.
The Draft Bill proposes a more rigorous regime for land
management, for both rangelands leases and pastoral leases.
Under the new regime, lessees must comply with various land
management Acts such as the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and
the Soil and Land Conservation Act 1945. New provisions under the
Draft Bill will grant the Minister powers to investigate compliance
with statutory land management obligations, including to compel a
lessee to report land condition data and provide information to the
Minister to support compliance with their obligations under the
The Minister is able to issue directions, default notices and
refuse lease renewals if land management laws are contravened.
However there are some safeguards for lessees, such as the Minister
not having the power to forfeit a pastoral or rangelands lease on
the grounds that a lessee has contravened a land management
Dissolution of Pastoral Lands Board
The Pastoral Lands Board (PLB), which is
currently responsible for administering pastoral leases, would be
dissolved under the Draft Bill and a new Pastoral and Rangelands
Advisory Board (PARAB) created. The powers of the
PLB are to be absorbed by the Minister for Lands, while the PARAB
is to only have an advisory capacity.
The proposed dissolution of the PLB, and the reduction of
pastoral industry representation on the PARAB (as compared to the
PLB) is controversial. However a number of protections have been
put in place under the Draft Bill to safeguard pastoralists'
the ability to appeal adverse decisions on pastoral lease
renewals to the State Administrative Tribunal; and
the requirement that the Minister seek independent advice, from
a member of an expert panel, about a land condition matter prior to
making an adverse decision in relation to a lease.
Anyone with an interest in a WA pastoral lease, or an interest
in the proposed WA rangelands tenure reforms should review the
Draft Bill and consider making submissions.
Not much time has been allowed – submissions close on 5
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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