Review pastoral rents: Labor

PASTORALISTS pay an average of 50¢ a year for each hectare of land they rent from the government under lease arrangements the WA Opposition has dubbed "white land rights."

  Labor MLA Mark McGowan has called for a review of pastoral rents following information showing that the Government effectively loses about $290,000 a year on pastoral leases.

  But Lands Minister Doug Shave said it was in the public interest to try to keep people on the land.

36       THE WEST AUSTRALIAN THURSDAY JUNE 3 1999
By Julie Butler

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  Much of WA's 951,300 sq km of pastoral lease land was arid and unproductive, and many pastoralists made little money but stayed on for the lifestyle. Raising rents might force more pastoralists off the land, creating problems, including that the untended land would be prone to vermin.
  The lands budget estimates committee hearing in the Legislative Assembly was told last week that the annual revenue from pastoral leases was about $490,000 but the cost of administering the leases was about $780,000.
  Outside the House, Mr Shave said it had always been the case that the cost of administering pastoral leases exceeded the revenue government got from lease fees.
  The administration costs are understood to include inspection of rangelands to check that they are not overstocked, that lease conditions are being complied with, improvements maintained and that the land is not being degraded.  The rent for a pastoral lease is assessed mainly on the basis of the land's stock-carrying capacity.
  Mr McGowan [the Labor Opposition spokesperson] said leases should be reviewed to ensure the level of fees was appropriate.  His Labor colleague, Alannah MacTiernan, also queried why the Government allowed a loss on the leases, suggesting this amounted to white land rights.
  The 1997 Land Administration Act allows for a review of pastoral leases.  It is understood such a review will take place, though it is not clear when.  -- Copyright© Julie Butler, The West Australian, June 3 1999, page 36


White land rights

  "White land rights" yes, but "Welfare for the corporations"  (both white and other colours) is another way of describing the scandal  of the 50 cents a hectare pastoral lease rents [see above].

  Multinational corporations own most of the pastoral leases, which Australians call sheep and cattle stations, and North Americans might call ranches.  The 951,300 square kilometres of pastoral leases comprise about 235,074,618 acres in the old measure. [A hectare (ha) of land is about 2.5 acres]

Adapted from
Progress             November/December 1999          page 13
By John Massam, W.A.

  The $290,000 a year loss is paid for by ordinary working people and the honest taxpaying portion of small business, farming, fishing, the professions, etc.  They are subsidising people who drive in large late-model four-wheel-drive vehicles, sometimes pilot aeroplanes, sometimes are members of expensive clubs, and have children in overseas or Australian boarding schools.  Through the wonders of "triple-entry bookkeeping" can say they "made little money," as Minister Shave puts it.
  Naturally, when the Labor Party was in office for years and years, the pastoral rents were not indexed to the cost of living increases, nor revised, nor otherwise brought into the 20th century.  Strange that a party in government does not see the need to collect revenue from landowners, but the blinkers are off when they are in opposition!
  But the Liberal-National Coalition plans to do even worse than "lazy Labor."  Spurred by feigned fears of the Native Title legislation and unusual court decisions, the Coalition actually plans to give the pastoral leaseholders freehold!  Talk about the land grabs of the Middle Ages and the colonial era!
  Even a hint of restoring a real State or Federal land tax that would really return some money to society leads most politicians to shake their heads at such outlandish 19th century ideas! -- John Massam, Perth, WA, in Progress (Melbourne), November-December 1999, page 13.


Progress (first published May 1904), Tax Reform Australia, 31 Hardware St., Melbourne, Vic, 3000, Australia. Annual subscription $15. Fax 03 9670 3063, E-mail: mhassed@lexicon.net, Website http://www.taxreform.com.au

For more  examples of "Corporate Welfare" click http://www.multiline.com.au/~georgist/tncnews.htm  and try World Development Movement, London, at: http://www.wdm.org.uk/background/multinat.htm  or a Corporate Welfare site, U.S.A., at http://dir.yahoo.com/Government/U_S__Government/Budget/Corporate_Welfare/ or see the Social Effects of Land Price Inflation at: http://www.faroc.com.au/gogetit.html

Tagged on AOLPress/2.0 05 June 1999, 10kb, last revised 06 June 2000
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John Massam, 46 Cobine Way, Greenwood, (a Perth suburb), WA, 6024, Australia. Tel [+61 8] (08) 9343 9532, Mobile 0408 054 319; john.massam@multiline.com.au