The pastoral industry contributes much to the social and economic fabric of this State, but, the industry faces many challenges, not least of which, the land on which it operates is some of the State’s most fragile. Pastoral lands have been under threat for over 75 years and during that time there has been limited support to ensure the long-term productivity of the land.
There are benefits to both the State and lessees from the leasing of pastoral lands. Lessees have the opportunity to run a pastoral business and earn an income, and the State has land managed that might otherwise pose a higher risk of uncontrolled fire and feral animals. However, managing the sustainability of these areas is a complex task that requires consultation with a multitude of other land users. This is not easy, and to be successful requires government to play a key role in helping to ensure productive lands exist for future generations.
This audit reiterates the findings of previous inquiries into the pastoral industry, highlighting a need for lease level monitoring of land condition, and guidance on how best to manage pastoral lands. We saw many examples in localised areas where lessees had rehabilitated land and employed good management practices to the benefit of the land, the lessees and the State.
Following the 2015 renewal of pastoral leases, government agencies have an opportunity to work together, along with the many non-government and Indigenous organisations, private business, and families to achieve sustainable outcomes for the pastoral industry and the communities it supports.
I have focused on making practical and achievable recommendations that reflect the need to improve pastoral land management, and the constrained resource environment agencies are operating in.
I would like to acknowledge the contribution from the many land managers who shared their insights into the challenges they face, and the value of the landscapes they manage.