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.

Rangelands reform so far

Reform of outdated Outback laws has been on the agenda of successive WA governments. Four attempts have been made to address this, with the most significant and recent attempt being led by Lands Minister Terry Redman from 2015 to 2016.

In summary, the objectives of the proposed reforms were to promote sustainable and diversified economic development in the Outback while improving the health of our Outback landscapes.

These reforms progressed as far as the drafting of legislation to amend the Land Administration Act 1997 as well as extensive consultation on the draft legislation, in Perth and in major Outback centres.

The final legislation was not introduced to parliament in 2016, with an admission from the WA Government in August 2016 that the reforms would not proceed during the current term of government.

Despite this delay, the needs of both people and nature in Outback WA have created an unstoppable momentum for change. The economic reality is that there’s now huge pressure on many stations to diversify their incomes, and the potential of new opportunities such as carbon farming will only be fully realised if reforms go ahead.

Public statements from political parties regarding rangelands reform

Liberal Party 

“Rangelands represents almost 90 per cent of WA’s total land with approximately one third being pastoral leases. If the Liberal party has the lands portfolio it will consider pastoral reform unfinished business and it will be a key action item.”

- from The Countryman, 9 February 2017

Nationals WA

In October, the Nationals WA State Conference unanimously agreed to a resolution in support of rangelands reform and carbon farming.

Leader of the Nationals, Brendon Grylls, said: “These lands are an important asset not only economically, but also of social, cultural and environmental value to WA. If elected in March, we will continue to champion this important reform in State Parliament.

- from The Countryman, 3 November 2016

WA Labor

Peter Tinley, Shadow Lands Minister, says that while the reform isn't a high priority for Labor, he would like to see a greater variety of jobs and industries in the rangelands. Tinley says the rangelands are a unique part of the economy.

- from an interview on WA Country Hour, 22 August 2016

WA Greens

Greens candidate for the Agricultural Region, Ian James, said his party would push for Rangelands Reform to "allow pastoralists to diversify with industries like carbon farming and tourism".

- from The Countryman, 9 February 2017

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party WA

“The conditions of Pastoral Leases must be made more flexible and with ease of negotiation.”

- from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers website

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation

No statement as yet.

What would reform mean for people and nature in WA's Outback?

Currently, the laws governing pastoral leases in Western Australia are restrictive for leaseholders who seek to diversify into more sustainable enterprises such as carbon farming or tourism. Reforming these laws to create a new 'rangelands lease' would be the first step towards giving Outback families the freedom to diversify their businesses. 

For more information:

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

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