Australia: Rangelands land tenure reform back on the WA Government agenda

Last Updated: 25 November 2017
Article by Scott Girdler

With a fresh round of consultations underway, pastoral industry participants and other stakeholders have another opportunity to shape the principles which will guide the reform of WA's rangelands land tenure.

The WA Government has again taken up the cause of land tenure reform over the rangelands, which comprise 87% of Western Australia. To gather thoughts and agreement on the reform the Pastoral Lands Board (PLB) is running a series of regional consultation meetings. This follows the previous Government being unable to get draft reform legislation into Parliament despite concerted efforts over eight years. The consultation process is intended to develop pastoral industry consensus on the principles of a reform package to be put together during mid-2018.

Why reform?

There is broad recognition that, in order to be able to address significant historical land degradation issues and maximise the value of pastoral lease holdings and the larger rangelands estate, greater diversity in land uses and more secure land tenure are required.

The need for reform has been highlighted by a recent Auditor General's report Management of Pastoral Lands in Western Australia - Office of the Auditor General which found that:

  • ecological sustainability of pastoral lands is not adequately protected by the State's current system of land monitoring and administration;
  • pastoral lands have been under threat for over 75 years and during that time there has been limited progress to halt the decline in pastoral land condition; and
  • the PLB is unable to fulfil its mandated function to ensure individual leases are managed on an ecologically sustainable basis.

Rangelands reform is complex. Numerous interests across various stakeholder groups, including multiple government and non-government agencies, Indigenous organisations and many individual pastoral lessees, need to be taken into account. Pastoral leases cover about 39% of WA rangelands. The support of Western Australian pastoralists and their representative bodies is critical to any rangelands reform measures.

The specific challenge of ensuring the ecological sustainability of pastoral leases was neatly summarised by the PLB's observation in its response to the Auditor General's report Board and agency responses - Office of the Auditor General that "any industry reliant on the presence of native vegetation, such as pastoralism, has a vested interest in ensuring sustainable use of natural resources; a key challenge in the context of a lease that allows for the grazing of non-native animals in an environment which is not well adapted to them along with wild dogs, goats, horses and camels. Subsequently, pastoral lessees have an incentive to work within a 'triple bottom line' management framework."

For pastoralists, the rangelands reforms are about enabling them to work within that "triple bottom line" management framework.

What will reforms offer?

Effective rangelands reform will enable land use which is most consistent with the sustainable management of the rangelands. Facilitating more sustainable pastoral use will be the main focus. In large part, that will involve allowing additional land uses to reduce grazing pressure.

Carbon farming, with its potential for adding a valuable income stream for land managers while helping to redress land degradation issues, has been slated as an important part of the mix for the sustainable use of the rangelands. At present there is no Government policy framework under which carbon farming on WA Crown land could take place. Developing the principles of such a framework, including the allocation of carbon sequestration rights and appropriate tenure to conduct carbon farming, would be an important practical outcome of a new rangelands reform package.

Other potential land uses which could be pursued alongside pastoral operations include agriculture, tourism and conservation.

What are the reforms likely to look like?

The previous Government's rangelands reform package was centred on the introduction of the rangelands lease as a new form of tenure which will permit multiple and varied land uses, including (potentially) agriculture, tourism, conservation and carbon farming, as well as pastoral use. The rangelands lease would supplement, not replace, existing pastoral leases. In addition, the reform included provision for:

  • statutory right of renewal for compliant pastoral leases;
  • increased terms for pastoral leases (to 50 years);
  • transfer of diversification permits to incoming pastoral lessees; and
  • the dissolution of the PLB and the creation of a new Pastoral and Rangelands Advisory Board.

The proposal for the dissolution of the PLB drew particular criticism from pastoral industry bodies. The current Government has indicated that it is not committed to this measure. However, as the Auditor-General's report underlines, fundamental changes are required so that the PLB can fulfil its statutory obligations to support the sustainable management of pastoral leases.

A new reform package is likely to borrow significantly from the previous reform package but will be shaped by the current consultation process. Various stakeholders have welcomed the new round of consultations, acknowledging that effective reform has to be driven through effective consultation with pastoralists and other interested parties.

What can I do?

Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan is leading the rangelands reform agenda, together with the Minister for Lands, Rita Saffioti. Ms MacTiernan has called for the pastoral industry and its main representative bodies - the Pastoralists and Graziers Association and the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association - to work towards a consensus on the direction of reforms.

The PLB is working towards providing advice to the WA Government on strategic priorities to enhance economic, social and environmental outcomes for the rangelands by early 2018. It is holding a series of workshops with pastoralists throughout the State to this end.

For pastoralists in particular, this is another opportunity to contribute to the shaping of vital reforms for their industry. Pastoralists can attend the PLB workshops, make submissions to the PLB or talk to their representative bodies.

Other stakeholders in the use and management of the WA rangelands will also have an opportunity to help shape the reform principles.

Reform timetable

The Government has indicated that the immediate future of rangelands reform in WA will depend on whether the pastoral industry can demonstrate a clear consensus on rangelands reform principles by April 2018. If that can be achieved then the aim is to present draft legislation to Cabinet by mid-2018.

Hopefully for the WA rangelands and its people, effective reforms can be developed and implemented this time around.


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.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
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 Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions