Plans to change pastoral law are scrapped as government focuses on conservation

Proposed changes to the management of South Australia’s hinterland – an area covering nearly half the state – were dropped by the newly elected Labor government.

Labor is moving the government’s pastoral unit out of the primary industries portfolio and back into the environment department, promising more money to ensure sheep and cattle farms don’t damage the fragile country.

The former Liberal government had big plans for South Australia’s arid rangelands, which make up 42% of the state, which are mainly leased for sheep and cattle grazing.

He was trying to push through a new pastoral law, updating the 1989 legislation, which would have given much more power to herders, but failed to get it through parliament before the election.

“The previous government, the Liberals, wanted to eliminate loading rates, have extremely long leases — up to 100 years — and also not do on-the-ground assessment of the quality and condition of the land. It all stops now. “, new Minister of the Environment, Susan Close, told the ABC.

Ms Close said an additional $1 million would be allocated to ensure the pastoral unit could carry out overdue pasture condition assessments “in a timely manner”.

“It’s precious land, it’s fragile and it’s capable of primary production as long as it’s taken care of,” she said.

“We will work with pastors to make sure that happens.”

The Pastoral Unit will be reintegrated into the Department of the Environment, under the new Minister of the Environment, Susan Close. (ABC News: Michael Clements)

The government will also confirm that pastoral land can be used for conservation purposes, which has been challenged under the Liberals.

“The last government raised a question mark on this. I don’t think it’s a problem, but I will find out and, if necessary, make some adjustments to make sure it is,” Ms. Close said.

Under plans by the former state government, existing leases would have been changed from 42 years to 100 years and a legislated maximum stock rate that could be run on each lease would have been removed.

He also wanted the land to be inspected remotely, mostly by satellite, rather than in person.

Two emus depicted in yellow-green grass behind a fence, with trees and bushes behind them
Emus roam near Yunta in outback South Australia.(ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

“A very good start”: Conservation Council

Nature Conservation Society of South Australia president Patrick O’Connor welcomed the change in leadership.

“The new government is making conservation a priority and the sustainability of South Australia’s outback is really important,” he said.

“It is only from this base that the definition of grazing rights and the capacity of the community to use this land can be registered over a long period of time, so it is a very good result that the government wants make this sustainability the priority.”

Mr O’Connor said the failure of inspections had been a “real problem” for farmers and for conservation.

“Inspections are so important and building that relationship with landowners around the condition of those assets is really important to supporting them, to giving those landowners confidence in their investments,” he said.

Desert flowers grow among the brush
Sturt’s Desert Peas grow in outback South Australia. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall )

The infusion of labor funds is equivalent to a 25 percent increase in the pastoral unit budget.

“The initial amount pledged is a very good start to getting back on track and then looking at emerging technologies and investment opportunities needed,” O’Connor said.

“I really think about how investing in backcountry information can really pay off in other ways, improving tourism, improving sustainability and improving access to emerging markets in biodiversity and carbon.”

Livestock industry wants grazing to remain primary land use

Livestock SA chairman Joe Keynes said it was crucial that pastoralism be supported.

“We really believe that pastoralism is the key and dominant industry in rangelands, and it will continue to be, although we recognize that there are other alternative uses,” he said.

“[The Pastoral Act] must support a profitable and sustainable pastoral industry.”

A fence through a flat desert landscape with some shrubs around
The government has promised to explore new ways to monitor the status of pastoral leases. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall )

Mr Keynes said the injection of funding would help reduce the backlog of property assessments, but called on the government to consider other ways of monitoring the status of leases.

“We could do it much more effectively and efficiently.

“I think [that]if we spent part of that million dollars looking into and investigating some of those opportunities, then…that would be welcomed by the pastoral industry. »

The government has promised to look at other surveillance methods in the future.

Comments are closed.