What's new

The Australian: Control of pastoral leases ‘bigger than Western Europe’ failing

By Victoria Laurie, The Australian, 13 October 2017.

Pastoral leases covering one third of Western Australia are in decline and the system supposed to improve degraded lands is failing, according to a blistering report by the state’s Auditor-General Colin Murphy.

He said monitoring 507 leases — covering 90 million hectares, an area bigger than Western Europe — had declined from 15 per cent of all leases each year to only 3 per cent since 2009, meaning it will take more than 20 years to inspect each lease.

This is despite attempts to bring the state’s pastoral estate under uniform control in 2015, when all WA pastoral leases were cancelled on the same date and all but two leases renewed.

The extent of eroded and degraded cattle country featured in a 2012 government report, which found that sustainable leases made up only 19 per cent of Pilbara leases, 26 per cent of leases in the Southern Rangelands, and 65 per cent of Kimberley leases.

In his latest report tabled in parliament, the Auditor-General found that pastoral land was not adequately protected by the current system of land monitoring and administration.

Mr Murphy said pastoral land had been under threat for more than 75 years but efforts had been limited in ensuring long-term productivity or halting the decline in condition.

Read more Share
Auditor General report reveals Outback WA let down by years of policy failure

Auditor General report reveals Outback WA let down by years of policy failure – but bigger reform is needed

A statement from Partnership for the Outback

Governance of pastoral leases has failed to support both lessees and the long term sustainability of land in Outback Western Australia, the findings of a government audit released this week highlight.

The report released by the Office of the WA Auditor General shows that a generation of failed policy across one third of the state has led to a significant decline in the productivity and condition of WA’s Outback.

Spokesperson for Partnership for the Outback, Suzannah Macbeth, said: “The Auditor General’s report identifies a range of critical problems and puts forward some common sense solutions that will be strongly welcomed by all stakeholders. But this report falls way short of addressing the bigger reforms which will provide many of the long-term solutions needed to restore the productivity and health of our Outback lands.”

Read more Share

Free downloadable wall-size WA map

WA_land_tenure_map.JPG

Love maps? We’re offering our new WA map as a FREE download to Outback supporters.

This map is really important in the work that we do, helping us to locate both the challenges that our Outback faces and the opportunities to care for our natural and cultural heritage. 

If you’re anything like us, you’ll spend ages poring over the tiny print, spotting station names or national parks which trigger fond Outback memories.

Here’s a couple of interesting details to note from looking at this map:

Read more Share
A stunning Outback story in the West Weekend magazine

A stunning Outback story in the West Weekend magazine

“The landscape, it sort of draws you in and gets in your blood I suppose. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.” – Robin Pensini, Cheela Plains Station

Robin's story of life on the land in a remote part of WA's Outback features in today's West Weekend magazine. Read the full story online here.

You can also read more about Evan and Robin, and their support for pastoral law reform in WA, in this story from last year.

Read more Share
New study reveals the urgent truth for our Outback

New study reveals the urgent truth for our Outback

The Outback is one of the few remaining great regions of nature, and today a new study reveals an urgent truth: our Outback needs more people to care for it and to prevent permanent loss of the unique native species and rich cultural heritage.

Tune in on Facebook live from 6pm WA time, 20 June 2017, to join us for the launch of My Country, Our Outback.

Australia’s Outback is a landscape that has been inhabited by people for 50,000 years, yet despite this, it is unencumbered by the type of industry and development that has permanently altered many of the planet’s other great ecosystems.

In the Outback, rivers still flow freely, wildlife migrates unchanged across the landscape, and the people who live and work in the Outback have an unparalleled connection to landscape and nature.

Read more Share

The West: Rita revives rangelands reform talks

By Rueben Hale, The Countryman, 15 June 2017, p8.

Rangelands reform is back on the State Government agenda after WA Lands Minister Rita Saffioti committed to restarting the process.

Ms Saffioti said last week she intended to consult with industry and the community over the next six to 12 months before starting renewed negotiations on the issue.

Read more
New Agriculture Minister flags carbon farming for WA's Outback

New Agriculture Minister flags carbon farming for WA's Outback

The new WA Agriculture Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, has flagged carbon farming as a key priority for the southern part of WA’s Outback.

This is a strong indication of the new Labor government’s focus on some of the challenges facing people and nature in the Outback.

Read more Share

WA election 2017: where the parties stand

Tomorrow, Western Australians go to the polls to elect their state government. Here we summarise the progress of rangelands reform so far and the stated position of political parties on this issue.

Read more Share

The West: Carbon farming a path to replenish rangelands

Opinion by Kent Broad, published in The West Australian, 31 January 2017.

Last month a peer-reviewed study revealed that carbon farming could provide a new billion-dollar industry for WA and help rejuvenate land suffering from more than 80 years of intensive grazing in the Mid West and southern rangelands.

Carbon farming is managing soil, vegetation, water and animals to increase carbon storage. The report found that WA was in the unique position of being able offer millions of hectares of depleted lands for revegetation and the restoration of grasslands. 

Read more Share
Pilbara News: Carbon farming a boon to pastoralists

Pilbara News: Carbon farming a boon to pastoralists

By Tom Zaunmayr, Pilbara News, 21 December 2016, page 13.

Rangelands pastoralists would be in line for large financial benefits if they took up the practice of carbon farming, according to a new study released into the practice.

The Carbon and Rangelands Policy working group found carbon farming — storing carbon in soil and vegetation and selling credits on the carbon market — could be worth up to $200,000 a year to the average southern rangelands pastoralist.

Read more Share

The Post: Happy carbon Christmas, Colin

From The Post newspaper, 24 December 2016, page 4.

Premier Colin Barnett would have been in luck on Monday afternoon if he hadn't got around to getting a Christmas tree.

Local carbon farming advocates delivered a tree with signed leaves to encourage his support for the development of a commercial carbon farming industry.

Read more Share

The Weekend West: Rangelands carbon role urged

WA's first ever Outback Carbon Farming Conference took place in August this year, sparking increased interest in the potential of carbon farming in the rangelands. In the wake of the conference, the Carbon and Rangelands Policy Working Group was formed, and they've now released their first report.

The report has found that carbon farming could be worth almost $200,000 each year to the average pastoral lease in the southern rangelands. The report garnered media coverage in The Weekend West's business pages - read the full article below.

Read more Share

ABC Radio National: Could carbon farming be the future for WA's rangelands region?

Reporter Claire Nichols from ABC Radio National compiled this report on diversification in the rangelands. She attended the Outback Carbon Farming Conference to speak to pastoralist Jason Hastie about his views on the need for diversification.

Click to hear the full story, which also includes interviews with WA Minister for Lands Terry Redman, David Mackenzie from Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Pastoralist and Graziers Association WA President Tony Seabrook.

Read more

Reform of outdated Outback laws inevitable despite delay

The news emerged today that the long-promised reforms to Outback laws have been delayed until next year.

However, the reform of outdated Outback laws is inevitable - the needs of both people and the environment in Outback WA have created unstoppable momentum for change.

The need for diversification in the Outback is urgent, so the momentum for change is not going to go away just because of a delay amending the laws.

Read more Share

Carbon farming on ABC Country Hour

ABC Country Hour's Richard Hudson attended the Outback Carbon Farming Conference and spoke to a number of speakers and delegates to hear their views on the future of carbon farming in WA's Outback.

Click through to hear interviews with Peter Castellas (CEO, Carbon Market Institute), Scott Girdler (Special Counsel, Clayton Utz), Sandra Eckert (General Counsel, Department of Lands), Tom Jackson (Pastoralist, Austin Downs Station) and John Dunne (Pastoralist, Remlap Station). The coverage runs for the first 22 minutes of the program.

Read more

The West Australian: Carbon farm backer in push for new policy

On the morning of the Outback Carbon Farming Conference in Perth, The West Australian turned its attention to carbon farming. Journalist Brad Thompson interviewed conference speakers and co-hosts, Kent Broad from Carbon Neutral and Scott Girdler from law firm Clayton Utz.

Both Kent and Scott believe the WA Government needs to develop strong policies to allow for the expansion of the carbon farming sector in WA's Outback.

Read more Share
Rangelands restoration drives tough business decisions at Nallan Station

Rangelands restoration drives tough business decisions at Nallan Station

By Eliza Wood, ABC Rural, 2 June 2016

An experiment in rangelands conservation has taught station owner Michael Clinch that it is a tough task improving the environment while trying to run a business. 

Mr Clinch's family bought Nallan Station in Western Australia's mid-west in 1999 when it was a severely degraded merino sheep property, like much of the southern rangelands.

Read more Share

How do we value a healthy Outback?

Pastoralist Jason Hastie spoke to ABC Country Hour's Belinda Varischetti today about the need to place a value on Outback lands that are in good condition - thereby encouraging land managers to invest time, effort and resources into ensuring a healthy landscape.

Jason is optimistic that the WA Government's changes to rangelands laws will open up exciting environmental and economic opportunities in WA's Outback - which covers 90% of the state.

He met with the Lands Minister Terry Redman, who has responsibility for WA's Outback, to look beyond the new legislation and explore policies that would put a value on healthy Outback lands. Jason argues that this would help broaden the focus of pastoralists from livestock production to include a concern for land that's in good condition, and that can be sustained for generations to come.

Jason is from Pingandy Station south of Paraburdoo, and you can hear his interview on ABC Country Hour here - fast forward to 25:20 to catch the start of his story.

Read more
New Outback laws on their way to Parliament

New Outback laws head for Parliament

We’ve reached another crucial point towards laying the foundations for a revitalised Outback, with the Lands Minister Terry Redman announcing that he’s signed off on legislation to amend laws governing land use in WA’s Outback.

This is a welcome development. There has been pressure on the government to retreat from the reforms, as governments in previous decades have done, so their commitment to change must be recognised.

However, the full details of what’s in the legislation are yet to be revealed, so we don’t know what changes may have been made in the wake of the public consultation period that finished earlier this month. The Department of Lands received 3,330 written submissions from the public on new laws, which shows the depth of interest from people across WA in the future of our Outback. 

Read more Share
Infographic - what's the process for reforming our Outback laws?

Infographic - what's the process for reforming our Outback laws?

This year we have an historic opportunity for our Outback, because we've now come further than ever before along to path towards revitalising our Outback through rangelands reform.

As this infographic shows, past governments have tried and failed to create meaningful change in the Outback. This year, things are looking up - and with the support from people all over the state, we have a real opportunity to create a brighter future for both landscapes and livelihoods.

Read more Share

Countryman: Rangelands act gains support

By Reuben Hale, The Countryman, 19 May 2016

Cue pastoralist Michael Clinch says he needs to diversify his pastoral property in order to survive.

Mr Clinch is one of a growing group of land users seeking to soften their rangelands reforms issues with the State Government, rejecting the Pastoralists and Graziers Association's hardline approach in rejecting the Lands Administration Bill in its current form.

Mr Clinch said he believed the PGA's approach was out of line with the current needs of many people in the pastoral industry who were desperate to find alternative revenue streams away from total reliance on livestock.

Read more Share
Carbon farming letter ups the ante on government over Outback reforms

Carbon farming letter ups the ante on government over Outback reform

Three leading carbon management companies have written to the WA Premier in a show of support for the Government’s proposed changes to Outback laws.

The changes, which include the establishment of a new type of lease – a rangelands lease – in the Outback, have the potential to create a brighter future for both people and nature.

Public support from the carbon industry has come at a critical time, with the proposed new laws governing land use in the Outback still up for discussion.

In the letter to the Premier, the heads of Australian Integrated Carbon, Climate Friendly and Carbon Neutral made a persuasive case for expanding the carbon farming market across the 90% of WA that is our Outback.

Read more Share

Pastoralists write to Premier in support of reform

A group of pastoralists from Mount Magnet, Gascoyne Junction and Port Hedland have signed a letter to Premier Colin Barnett in support of the WA Government's proposed reforms to Outback laws.

The group is led by Cue pastoralist Tom Jackson, who was a member of the 2009 Wendy Duncan Review which made recommendations resulting in the Government’s rangelands reform program.

He told The Countryman that a meeting with the Premier was needed to ensure a sensible discussion between pastoralists and the Government.

Read more Share
Former pastoralist meets local MP Bill Marmion to discuss historic changes to WA Outback

Former pastoralist meets local MP Bill Marmion to discuss historic changes to WA Outback

Shenton Park scientist Harley Lacy met with Nedlands MLA Bill Marmion last month to discuss historic changes proposed for 90 per cent of West Australian outback.

The former pastoralist, who left Polelle Station near Meekatharra in 1989, said he had firsthand experience of the damage wrought by tough economic times and past grazing practices.

“For decades, WA’s laws have meant that anyone on a pastoral lease had to run stock, whether it suited them or not," Mr Lacy said.

“The Barnett government is now looking at changing these laws to allow people to diversify into new enterprises more appropriate to a modern economy.”

Read more
North Kimberley station manager Susan Bradley supports Outback reforms

North Kimberley station manager Susan Bradley supports Outback WA reforms

North Kimberley cattle station manager Susan Bradley, who oversees Theda and Doongan stations, spoke to ABC Country Hour today about her support for the government's proposed new legislation that will shape the future of the Western Australian Outback.

Ms Bradley said that many pastoralists have been seeking Outback reform for a long time. She criticised those who are seeking to stand in the way of reforms, characterising them as "dinosaurs of industry".

"I don't think that the dinosaurs of the industry should be holding back these people who really want to care for the land," Ms Bradley said.

Ms Bradley is in favour of diversification into more sustainable enterprises in the Outback. The stations she manages are extremely remote, meaning that getting livestock to market is challenging. "We are interested in conservation, in the biodiversity, environment, flora and fauna, and we are carbon trading,” Ms Bradley said.

Read more
Rangelands Gazette highlights the benefits of reform

Rangelands Gazette highlights the importance of reform

We're excited to announce a new initiative for WA's Outback - the Rangelands Gazette.

The Rangelands Gazette is a four-page newsletter published specifically for pastoral leaseholders in WA, in time for the State Government's release of the draft Rangelands Reform Bill this week. 

Leaseholders will be among those who are affected by the government's proposed changes. There is a growing consensus among a variety of Outback stakeholders - pastoralists, tourism operators, conservationists and others - that reform presents opportunities, but that more needs to be done if these opportunities are to be realised. 

The Rangelands Gazette explains the rangelands reform process, examines the opportunities created by reform and the elements that are missing from the government's program, and includes contributions from pastoralists and the legal sector. 

You can read the Rangelands Gazette here [PDF 2.2MB].

Read more
WA land reforms offer new lease of life for Pilbara pastoralists

WA land reforms offer new lease of life for Pilbara pastoralists

By Victoria Laurie, The Australian, 17 March 2016.

A quiet revolution in Australia’s outback rangelands has been ­witnessed by three generations of Evan Pensini’s family.

As pastoralists and landcare experts gather today in Canberra for a forum on the ­future of rangelands, Pensini has a message: ­Australia’s station families need help to keep the revolution rolling.

Western Australia has a third of its land surface under pastoral lease, covering 87,250,000 hectares. The Pilbara pastoralist welcomes state government plans to roll out a new rangelands lease system, which will cancel outdated rules that have locked the state’s 500 leases into running ­cattle as their main activity.

Read more Share
ABC News: New rangeland lease could see pastoralists shift focus

ABC News: New rangeland lease could see pastoralists shift focus

The rangelands conference held by the Department of Lands yesterday attracted around 230 people who were keen to hear more about Minister for Lands Terry Redman's vision for Outback reform.

The creation of a rangelands lease (which would be a new, non-compulsory form of lease) is a step in the right direction, but the detail is missing for the smaller family-run pastoral businesses, as pointed out by a pastoralist from Mt Magnet in this story from ABC News.

Read more
The Conversation: Indigenous fire management

The Conversation: Aboriginal fire management – part of the solution to destructive bushfires

By David Bowman, University of Tasmania.

As destructive bushfires become more common there is increasing political discussion how we manage them sustainably. Inevitably these debates raise questions of the past ecological effects of Aboriginal fire usage.

There are two well-known narratives about Aboriginal fire use.

One, popularised by Tim Flannery, stresses the ecologically disruptive impact of Aboriginal fire use. This storyline argues that the megafauna extinctions that immediately followed human colonisation in the ice age resulted in a ramping up of fire activity. This then led to the spread of flammable vegetation which now fuels bushfires.

Read more Share
Infographic - Outback reform

Infographic - Outback reform and what it means for WA

The WA government announced their first official step toward Outback law reform. Check out our infographic to learn more about what the proposed changes mean for the future of the Western Australian Outback.

Read more Share
Outback book presented to MP Dean Nalder

Outback book presented to MP Dean Nalder

CONSERVATION campaigner Brian Moyle has presented Alfred Cove MP Dean Nalder with the signatures of more than 10,000 West Australian calling for increased support for the Outback.

The petition, contained in a photo book highlighting the beauty of the state’s vast uninhabited landscapes, stresses the dangers posed to the Outback by uncontrolled fire, noxious weeds and feral animals.

Read more
Reform announcement in the West Australian

Government takes the first official step towards reform

The WA government has taken the first official step in Outback law reform! On Friday, the issue made the headlines of The West Australian Business pages. Read the full story here. 

Read more
Former pastoralist meets with the Premier and presents the Outback book!

Outback book presented to the Premier - a great end to 2015!

Meg_with_the_Outback_book.jpgA former pastoralist who lived on a sheep station for 35 years has met with the Western Australian Premier to ask for changes to the laws that govern the Outback.

Meg Officer drew on her experience of life in the Murchison region of WA to advocate for people in the rangelands during her meeting with the Premier.

She took the opportunity to present Premier Colin Barnett with a stunning book of Outback photographs that includes the names of 10,000 Western Australian Outback supporters!

Read more Share
Support for rangeland reform - in Countryman newspaper

Support for rangeland reform - in Countryman newspaper

A controversial plan to axe the Pastoral Lands Board in favour of an advisory body that would provide input into the development of future land management options in the rangelands is a vital part of proposed reforms, according to rangeland ecologist and former board member Tony Brandis.

Read more
ABC Rural - Funding call for Indigenous ranger programs

ABC Rural - Funding call for Indigenous ranger programs

The coordinator of an Indigenous ranger group in Western Australia's far north says the group's work is proving so successful it should be replicated elsewhere Australia.

A national review of Indigenous ranger groups has been released in Canberra today, which highlights the social and environmental benefits the groups bring to remote communities.

Read more
A day out in Kings Park for Outback supporters

A day out in Kings Park for Outback supporters

outback-55_-_panorama.jpg

The Outback is famous for wildflowers – glorious carpets of yellow, pink, white and purple that line the roadsides and light up the paddocks. They begin blooming in June in the north and sweep south through the state to finish on the south coast in November.

For people who live in Perth, some of these stunning colours emerge at Kings Park Botanical Gardens each year.

So it was perfect timing last weekend for two hundred Our Outback, Our Story supporters to gather at the Park for a BBQ.

Read more Share
ABC News - Government proposes Rangelands Advisory Board

ABC News - Government proposes Rangelands Advisory Board

The Western Australian Government plans to scrap the Pastoral Lands Board.

The decision comes as a part of efforts by the government to open more diversification opportunities for WA's pastoral rangelands, which cover nearly 90 million hectares.

Read more
Visit to Wooleen

Visit to Wooleen

Wet_Murchison_Road.JPG

Drive inland, north east towards the desert country, and WA’s Outback is a magnificent place. This old landscape is weathered from millennia of stability, where the changes to the earth are gradual.

This is not a place of recent upheaval; of land subsiding and mountain ranges pushing up from the former flatlands. It shows instead the passage of time through the weathering of creases in the land from water and wind; in the delicacy of ancient soil, easily blown or washed away wherever it is not held in place by slow-growing, long-lived plants.

After the rains, there’s a blossoming of colour: temporary and vibrant beneath blue skies, brightened by the distance of the horizons. We drive through the Murchison, entering Wooleen Station’s south boundary 37 kilometres from the homestead. This land has been inhabited for thousands of years by the Yamaji Wajarri people. 

Read more Share
Matuwa/Kurrara Kurrara Indigenous Protected Area

Matuwa/Kurrara Kurrara Indigenous Protected Area

Matuwa_KK_IPA_launch_flags_thumbnail.jpg

I’ve recently returned from attending a unique Outback event – the dedication of the Matuwa / Kurrara Kurrara Indigenous Protected Area, which involves the transfer of the former Lorna Glen and Earaheedy pastoral leases to the Martu traditional owners.

The new Indigenous Protected area (IPA) extends over 5967 square kilometres to the northeast of Wiluna.

My colleague Michelle and I drove up from Perth, staying overnight in the historic town of Cue. When we arrived in Wiluna we joined a convoy of 4WDs to drive to the old Lorna Glen Station homestead, now located within the Matuwa IPA area.

Read more Share
WA Today - Secret reports detail decline of pastoral leases

WA Today - Secret reports detail decline of pastoral leases

Two secret government reports reveal a massive area of Western Australia's outback can no longer sustain traditional grazing, which could force more people off the land.

Opposition environment spokesman Chris Tallentire secured the two Department of Agriculture and Food WA reports through the state's Freedom of Information laws and released an analysis on Tuesday.

Read more
Wooleen Station on

Wooleen Station on "Australian Story"

Frances Jones and David Pollock run Wooleen Station in WA. Their story shows just what people in our Outback are trying to accomplish - but also the barriers that confront them.

Frances and David's story has twice been featured on Australian Story, most recently on 24 November 2014. You can watch the episode here, or read the transcript here.

Share
Scoop magazine features WA's Outback

Scoop magazine features WA's Outback

Perth's Scoop Magazine explores how WA's Outback has fewer people living in it and actively managing the landscape than at any time over the past 50,000 years and how more can be done to provide a foundation for people to stay on the land, make a living and look after nature.

The piece was inspired by The Pew Charitable Trust's Outback Papers. You can read Scoop's article here.

Share
Feral feast: cats kill hundreds of Australian animals

The Conversation: Feral feast: cats kill hundreds of Australian animals

By Tim Doherty, Edith Cowan University.

Feral cats are estimated to eat tens of millions of native animals each night in Australia. But what kinds of wildlife are they eating? In research published today in the Journal of Biogeography, my colleagues and I show that cats kill hundreds of different kinds of animals, including at least 16 species considered globally threatened.

Feral cats are a serious threat to wildlife globally, contributing to the extinction of numerous birds, mammals and reptiles worldwide. In Australia, cats have been implicated in the extinction of at least 20 mammal species and sub-species, including the lesser bilby and desert bandicoot.

Read more Share

Our Outback is an amazing place, but what makes it special is at risk. 

Help make Outback carbon farming a reality

Carbon farming is breathing life back into the Wheatbelt. But just over the fence in WA’s Outback, where it's needed most, it's not allowed.

Kent Broad has been a farmer all his life and he's seen first-hand the benefits that carbon farming has brought to WA's Wheatbelt - but the Outback is missing out.

Help make Outback carbon farming a reality - tell government today.

Will you sign?

    What do you want to do?

    Dear Premier [and local MP],

    Yours sincerely,
    [Your name will be added automatically]

    Help increase our impact by sharing here