Australia: Increasing development potential of NT pastoral lease land

Last Updated: 12 November 2017
Article by Nicole Besgrove and Margaret Michaels

Most Read Contributor in Australia, October 2017

The Northern Territory Government is considering amendments as a first step to rectify immediate shortfalls in relation to pastoral land in the Territory.

The Pastoral Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced into the NT Parliament on 18 October 2017 and proposes to amend the Pastoral Land Act and its Regulations.

It is understood that the main purpose of the amendments is to "allow pastoral lease holders in the NT to diversify their business enterprises and boost the economy through further supporting diversification and investment in the pastoral estate".

The Bill includes amendments to:

  • give the Minister the ability to grant subleases on pastoral land for a range of non-pastoral purposes;
  • change the rent calculation methodology to the estimated carrying capacity of the pastoral land;
  • allow for an increase in the number Pastoral Land Board members; and
  • rectify and clarify other minor aspects of the Pastoral Land Act.

Non-pastoral purposes

Currently under the Act an application for consent to sub-let pastoral lease land (in whole or in part) can be made to the Minister. However, the Minister cannot consent to the subletting unless it is a condition of the sub-let agreement that the land will be used only for pastoral purposes, for the purposes of the Territory or for a prescribed purpose.

Pastoral purposes is currently defined under the Act as the pasturing of stock for sustainable commercial use of the land on which they are pastured or agricultural or other non-dominant uses essential to, carried out in conjunction with, or inseparable from, the pastoral enterprise, including the production of agricultural products for use in stock feeding and pastoral-based tourist activities such as farm holidays, but does not include a use which is declared by the Board not to be a use for pastoral purposes.

The Pastoral Land Regulations currently limit prescribed purposes to:

  • generating electrical power on the land and transmitting or distributing electrical power to, from, through or across the land;
  • supplying or conveying to, through or across the land gas, liquid fuels or water or other liquids in such a form as to be capable of conveying energy;
  • establishing and housing facilities for telecommunications;
  • housing surveying and scientific measurement equipment and associated infrastructure;
  • establishing and operating a commercial tourist enterprise; and
  • keeping and breeding animals (other than stock).

The Bill proposes to amend the Regulations to expand the above prescribed purposes to include:

  • forestry;
  • agriculture;
  • horticulture; and
  • aquaculture.

The Bill also provides that the lessee must ensure that a lease transaction 1, which includes a sublease, is registered under the Land Title Act.

It is understood that the rationale for these amendments is to allow lessees to secure investment from third parties in line with the 2014 amendments to the Pastoral Land Amendment Act 2013 (which commenced on 1 January 2014), which allowed the Board to grant a lessee a permit upon application to use all or part of the lessee's pastoral land for a non-pastoral purpose.

Pastoral rent

Under the Act pastoral rent for a financial year is currently calculated as the percentage of the unimproved value of the leased land determined by the Valuer-General under the Valuation of Land Act every three years.

Based upon concerns raised in relation to the potential fluctuating nature of rental calculations and the need to establish a framework for an efficient, predictive and objective process during an industry-led pastoral rent review working group, a methodology based on the pastoral property's estimated carrying capacity is proposed.

In the Bill, the estimated carrying capacity will be determined by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and is the number of animal equivalents that an area of pastoral land can sustainably support, with animal equivalent being equal to one 450kg non-breeding beast.

It is proposed that the Department may conduct a review of the estimated carrying capacity at any time, but no more than 10 years after the previous determination.

Other minor amendments

The Bill also proposes the following minor amendments to:

  • rectify an anomaly regarding calculating interest for late payment of pastoral rent by relying upon the statutory interest rate2. The Act currently refers to using a rate of 1% above the Commonwealth Bank of Australia standard overdraft rate, which is unobtainable;
  • align the payment periods for pastoral rent with standard government terms for receivables, being 30 days from invoice date. The Act currently provides that a pastoral lessee shall pay the rent due and payable in respect of the relevant quarter for his or her pastoral lease:
    • in respect of the first quarter of the financial year - within 40 days after the date of the rent notice; and
    • in respect of each subsequent quarter - within 28 days after the commencement of the quarter;
  • require the Minister's consent in relation to lease transactions to ensure all proposals to transfer ownership or a controlling interest are assessed. Currently, consent is only required in relation to the transfer of a pastoral lease or a pastoral lease sublease, or to sub-let the pastoral lease land; and
  • allow for an increase to the number of Board members. Currently, the Act provides that the Board is to consist of five members and requires a quorum of four. Amendment is proposed to provide that the Board is to consist of at least five members. This will allow for an increase in member numbers to enable the quorum of four to more easily be obtained and decisions made in a more timely manner in the event of some members being unavailable.

Next steps

It is understood that the Bill is aimed at addressing the immediate shortfalls which the Government has identified in relation to pastoral land, however the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Lauren Moss, has stated that an overall review is necessary and the Government is committed to such a review and will continue to work with industry and other stakeholders to further modernise legislation.



1 A lease transaction is defined in the Bill as being any one of the following:

  1. transfer of a pastoral lease;
  2. sublease of all or part of the land the subject of a pastoral lease;
  3. transfer a sublease;
  4. variation or extension of a sublease;
  5. any other transaction that results in a pastoral lessee or sublessee otherwise parting with possession of pastoral land

however, the ability to register on title only applies to (b), (c) or (d).

2 The term statutory interest rate in the Bill has the meaning given to it under section 35(1) of the Taxation Administration Act.

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. Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and territories.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.