Forestry grazing fear felled

Forestry grazing fear felled


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THE Queensland government has moved quickly to remove unnecessarily prescriptive conditions attached to the state's 740 forestry leases used for grazing.

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THE Queensland government has moved quickly to remove unnecessarily prescriptive conditions attached to the state's 740 forestry leases used for grazing.

Blaming "green bureaucracy" for the introduction of unwanted terms in new forestry leases, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said it was never the intention of the government to reduce the security of tenure for landholders by adding onerous new conditions as part of its leasehold land reforms.

Forestry leases used for grazing are understood to cover about 1.2 million hectares of Queensland and are used by about 280 farming families.

"Our intention has always been to improve the security of leases, not greater regulation," Mr Seeney said.

"These conditions were clearly unacceptable and we have rewritten the lease conditions to ensure there is no regulatory creep.

"Unfortunately, this had been allowed to happen and we have been embarrassed by it."

In a briefing to Queensland Country Life on Monday, Mr Seeney and Southern Downs MP Lawrence Springborg said the Queensland government would write to all forestry leaseholders from early next week, detailing the changes to the lease conditions.

"As a grazing lease, leaseholders are only responsible for what is related to grazing," Mr Seeney said.

"Greater security of tenure results in better land management because landholders have greater investment certainty.

"Under our land-tenure reforms, we have embedded property rights for the generations ahead.

"There is no place for superfluous conditions."

As reported last week, landholders protested against new regulations they claimed were unworkable. Complaints centred on fire, weed and pest management, as well as issues of public-entry access and notification for entry.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said rural leasehold land reforms were a revolution sweeping regional Queensland, delivering meaningful opportunities for the agriculture sector and rural communities.

"Land reforms are being embraced by rural landholders as an opportunity to gain greater security of tenure and invest with certainty in their farm business," Mr Cripps said.

"Following significant reforms to the Land Act, Category 11 primary production leases automatically became rolling term leases.

"The benefits of a rolling term lease include increased tenure security and a much easier and quicker lease-renewal process, with land-management agreements no longer a compulsory feature of the lease-renewal process."

Mr Cripps said his department had made more than 1300 offers to landholders to extend their current lease arrangements in line with the new rolling term lease requirements.

"To date, 1158 or 89 per cent of rural lease extension offers have been accepted and progressed by the department, delivering the lease-holders greater certainty and a longer investment horizon," Mr Cripps said.

Mr Cripps said it was also easier and more affordable for landholders to convert their rural leasehold land to freehold - as well as changing the way rent was determined for term leases.

"Farmers and graziers are showing their strong support for these changes, with 327 applications for conversion to freehold being received.

"Of these, six applicants have so far accepted the offer to convert their lease to freehold, with deeds of grant already being issued to four applicants, with a further two currently being progressed for approval.

"To make it fairer and more affordable, the LNP has changed the method used to determine the freehold price, using the new 'net present value of revenue' calculation.

"The way annual rents are calculated has also changed to ease the financial burden on rural leaseholders, with rents for term leases being placed on a new pathway to 0.75pc of the unimproved capital value of the property, down from 1.5pc.

"Other changes include the annual cap on rent increases being halved from 20pc to 10pc for all primary production tenures."

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