Lands review ‘opportunity’
Thursday, 22nd May, 2014
By By Nick Gibbs
Western Lands Lessees are being invited to comment to the Crown Lands Review White Paper which has been described as the most significant reform in a generation.
“The Crown Lands Review is a once in a lifetime opportunity to keep rentals affordable, modernise the management of Crown Lands, reduce red tape, allow diversification and allow freeholding on the same terms as the rest of NSW,” said Wentworth Shire Councillor Bob Wheeldon.
However, Mr Wheeldon described it as both an opportunity and a threat.
He said rental concessions for drought-affected leaseholders and a systematic state-wide approach to freeholding land were important discussion points.
“Graziers should not assume the current practice of waiving rentals in drought conditions will continue as Crown Lands is under pressure to increase the return on leased lands.
“Currently the Eastern and Central Divisions of NSW pay three per cent of the land value to freehold their leases whereas Western Division Leaseholders wishing to freehold their land have to pay the full market value of the land less the value of their improvements.”
Clr Wheeldon also felt having the Minister for Crown Lands, Kevin Humphries, in the Western Division provided “the best chance for a fair go we are likely to get.”
Minister Humphries agreed the review was a valuable opportunity for leaseholders in the region and said the NSW Government had given “in principle support” to its recommendations.
“The Crown Lands Review is a valuable opportunity to provide greater flexibility and better economic outcomes for Western Division leaseholders,” he said.
“The government will continue to support leaseholders in the Western Division and will continue to engage with stakeholders as the review process proceeds, providing them with the opportunity to discuss these issues.”
President of the Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling, Chris Wilhelm, said the organisation would be making a submission and said a large proportion of graziers in the unincorporated area held leases with Western Lands.
The White Paper can be seen on the NSW Crown Lands website and submissions are due by 5pm on June 20.