Discussions resume on Pastoral Bill future

Pastoral Bill consultation resumes

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The government is returning to consultation on the Pastoral Lands Bill following criticism from non-pastoral stakeholders

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The government is returning to consultation on the Pastoral Lands Bill following criticism from non-pastoral stakeholders, including concerns about what potential "alternative land uses" could be in place.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said they had received nearly 300 responses to the draft bill, which showed the value the rangelands held to the SA community.

"Stakeholders are generally supportive of allowing alternate land uses on pastoral lands, however it is clear the community want greater clarity as to what land uses will be allowed under the new bill and what the process will be to obtain approval," he said.

He said they would be working to develop policies on approved alternative land uses, such as tourism, carbon farming and conservation agreements, with these released about the same time the bill was presented to Parliament.

"The SA government is committed to ensuring future legislation is fit for purpose and provides greater flexibility in the management of pastoral businesses and of the rangelands," he said.

"The draft bill will also enable adaptation to future conditions and technologies and manage land condition to underpin the pastoral industry and provide for the conservation of key environmental values."

Livestock SA northern representative David Bell said it was "disappointing" that consultation was returning, with the process already dragging on from initial consultations in August 2019.

"I thought we weren't too far away (from a result)," he said.

"It's taken a long time and a lot of back and forth and now we start again."

He said pastoralists and conservation groups had been talking through concerns and he thought they had found common ground.

"The people we were talking with - a lot of their concerns were our concerns too," he said.

Mr Bell said pastoralists in SA were conservationists at heart and had a good reputation for managing their land, which would have been enhanced by the proposed legislation.

"We need more support, security and strength in the act, which the new bill was going to do," he said.

Conservation Council chief executive Craig Wilkins said it was good to see conversations continue, particularly the chance for increased dialogue with Indigenous groups.

"There was clearly a significant reaction from the public," he said.

He said there were a number of issues present in the existing draft bill.

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"The real concern was the bill was prioritising livestock above a range of other interests, such as tourism and conservation," he said.

While the government is optimistic the bill could be presented to Parliament "later in 2021", Mr Wilkins believes the extra consultation would push the process out.

"The prospects look dim to be passed before the election," he said.

He said it was not something that could be rushed.

"This is a once in a generation reform of 40 per cent of the state," he said.

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