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Cattle Industry Seeks Rights to Clear Land in WA’s Top End

05 July 2017

AUSTRALIA - WA’s northern cattle industry wants pastoralists to have an automatic right to clear part of their land to make it easier to develop the top end of WA.

The West Australian reports that the call came in the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association submission to a Federal committee looking at ways to slash red tape.

The submission contains eight recommendations, some of which WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said had merit.

“Give every pastoralist a default right to clear an agreed percentage of land for development (Tasmania has recently approved clearing of 40ha every year),” the submission noted.

“Such areas can be used by pastoralists to drought-proof their operations; relieve pressure on rangelands; improve their herd performance; and enable stock turn-off at non-peak times.”

The association used its submission to blast the State Government for allowing the public service’s technical skills base to evaporate.

“The loss of technical staff in the regions has proven to be a real threat to the State and nation — this issue obviously extends beyond the issue of development applications,” the submission said.

“Technical staff must be rewarded for supporting economic development, not just identifying risk in order to keep their positions relevant in the eyes of a risk-averse government. The risk should sit with the applicant.”

A team of bureaucrats able to help pastoralists deal with the various government departments and act as one contact point was needed, the association said.

“This will increase ownership of — and drive accountability for — the application process, help drive more improved turn-around times, and ultimately underpin a higher success rate in applications,” the submission noted.

Allowing decisions to be made in the regions would streamline the process because “applicants can meet with appropriate staff directly, and talk through issues, understand processes and build a sense of collective goodwill and co-operation.”

“Existing structures make it far too easy to not answer a letter or respond to a request in a timely fashion,” the association said.

Ms MacTiernan said the McGowan Government’s decision to reduce the number of departments would help remove bottlenecks.

She said staff from the Department of Regional Development could act as cross-departmental liaisons.

“We understand that we do need to have more cross-departmental work,” she said.

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