Pastoralists' concerns addressed in new bill

Pastoralists' concerns addressed in new bill

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The review of the pastoral act was announced in August last year, and initial consultation wrapped up in October. Since then, it's been an 11-month waiting game for our pastoralists.

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Sometimes, the longer you wait for something, the more crushing the disappointment is when it finally arrives and doesn't meet your expectations.

I'm not talking about heading to the Royal Adelaide Show for the first time and only being allowed to buy one showbag, or go on one stomach-churning ride, but rather something much more important - the proposed amendments to SA's pastoral act.

The review of the pastoral act was announced in August last year, and initial consultation wrapped up in October. Since then, it's been an 11-month waiting game for our pastoralists.

But, the waiting game finally ended on Friday, with the state government releasing its draft Pastoral Lands Bill 2020, designed to bring the legislation governing our pastoral rangelands into the 21st century.

Thankfully, this appears to be a case of good things coming to those who wait - at first glance, at least. There have been amendments proposed to try and address several of the most pressing issues raised by pastoralists, and while more detail is needed on certain amendments, there seems to be agreement that steps forward have been made.

Related reading:Pastoral Act draft released for review

The shift to leases of up to 100 years is especially welcome, and would give pastoralists a much higher degree of certainty in their planning and their dealings with banks and financial institutions. It also means that the next generation of graziers can commit to station life with confidence.

The draft legislation also gives rise to our pastoral lands being used for a much more diverse range of enterprises and activities. Whether that's goats, carbon farming or tourism, it gives station owners the flexibility to explore options where income isn't so reliant on Mother Nature, with the Pastoral Board having the final say.

It's pleasing to see that several face-to-face meetings and online webinars have been organised as part of the consultation process, and I agree with Livestock SA northern region chairman David Bell that having as many meetings as possible is important to ensure everyone's voice can be heard.

After all, this piece of legislation effectively controls what our pastoralists can and cannot do on their stations. It governs so many areas of their lives and care must be taken to ensure it is as good as it can possibly be.

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