Pas­toral­ists de­mand car­bon farm ac­tion

Countryman - - NEWS - Rueben Hale

Pas­toral­ists have ac­cused the Pas­toral Lands Board of dis­miss­ing a call to back a $60 bil­lion car­bon farm­ing in­dus­try in WA.

Gas­coyne Catch­ment Group com­mit­tee mem­ber and Meekatharra pas­toral­ist Ja­son Hastie said the PLB should be called out as be­ing disin­gen­u­ous and in­sin­cere in sup­port of car­bon farm­ing in­dus­try in WA.

Mr Hastie has stewed for months on the time it had taken for the PLB to re­spond to a let­ter sent late last year call­ing for the PLB to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of op­tions for car­bon farm­ing on pas­toral leases.

Mr Hastie had also de­liv­ered a pe­ti­tion ear­lier in the year to Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan call­ing for the State Govern­ment to de­velop a frame­work to al­low for the is­sue and man­age­ment of car­bon se­ques­tra­tion rights in the range­lands, which cover 87 per cent of WA.

Con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates for car­bon se­ques­tra­tion in the WA range­lands is 5 gi­ga­tonnes — equal to a po­ten­tial $60 bil­lion in­dus­try.

The group ar­gues car­bon farm­ing can pro­vide eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes that sup­port the aims of the Pas­toral Lands Board and the broader ob­jec­tives and ex­pec­ta­tions of Govern­ment.

It said the PLB should ad­vise the govern­ment to make avail­able all nec­es­sary re­sources to de­velop pol­icy so that car­bon farm­ing can be­gin in WA’s range­lands.

The com­mit­tee also asked for a res­o­lu­tion in favour of the im­me­di­ate de­vel­op­ment of a range­lands car­bon farm­ing in­dus­try and that it de­velop and adopt a pol­icy in sup­port of this in­dus­try and the op­por­tu­ni­ties it of­fers WA’s pas­toral­ists.

The PLB re­sponse stated it was sup­port­ive of the car­bon farm­ing in­dus­try ex­pand­ing fur­ther than it al­ready had.

The let­ter said it en­cour­aged GCG mem­bers to con­tact rel­e­vant Aus­tralian Govern­ment agen­cies for ad­vice and obli­ga­tions re­quired to un­der­take car­bon farm­ing projects, but also would be sub­ject to WA land ten­ure and ten­ure ap­proval pro­cesses.

Mr Hastie said the PLB re­sponse was “pa­thetic dou­ble­s­peak”, seem­ing to of­fer so­lu­tions while none ex­isted.

“The re­sponse demon­strates in­com­pe­tence in un­der­stand­ing the car­bon en­vi­ron­ment for range­lands, in­com­pe­tence in com­pre­hend­ing the thrust of the ini­tial GCG let­ter and a dis­tinct lack of in­ten­tion of show­ing any lead­er­ship about WA range­lands fu­ture man­age­ment,” he said.

“Car­bon farm­ing rep­re­sents an ad­di­tional source in­come, which pas­toral­ists in other States can ac­cess, which can boost pro­duc­tiv­ity, help re­store de­graded lands, and di­ver­sify the range­land econ­omy,” he said.

Meanwhile, PLB chair­man Tim Shack­le­ton said the or­gan­i­sa­tion un­der­stands the frus­tra­tions of some pas­toral­ists about the length of time it is tak­ing for the pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment to de­velop.

“The PLB will be hold­ing meet­ings with pas­toral­ists in both the Gas­coyne and Pil­bara in com­ing months and ex­pects there to be dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing car­bon farm­ing at th­ese meet­ings,” he said.

“Our or­gan­i­sa­tion is re­spon­si­ble for the reg­u­la­tory ad­min­is­tra­tion of pas­toral leases and the pro­vi­sion of strate­gic ad­vice to the Min­is­ter for Lands re­lated to the de­vel­op­ment of the pas­toral in­dus­try.

“Within the scope of its role as ad­min­is­tra­tor of pas­toral leases, the PLB is com­mit­ted to clar­i­fy­ing for lease­hold­ers what path­ways and op­por­tu­ni­ties are avail­able for those in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing car­bon farm­ing.”

Mr Shack­le­ton said the group would con­sider and re­spond to the GCG’s feed­back about the im­por­tance of car­bon farm­ing as an eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion op­por­tu­nity and their per­cep­tion that the PLB is show­ing a lack of lead­er­ship on the is­sue.

Pic­ture: Nic El­lis

Pas­toral­ist Ja­son Hastie with the pe­ti­tion he handed to the govern­ment ear­lier this year.

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