NT sta­tion buy grows Rine­hart pas­toral em­pire

Countryman - - NEWS - Jenne Bram­mer

Iron ore baron Gina Rine­hart con­tin­ues to build her north­ern pas­toral em­pire by pur­chas­ing an­other cat­tle sta­tion in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Han­cock Prospect­ing this week con­firmed it had ac­quired the 171,000ha Willeroo pas­toral prop­erty, about 100km west of Katherine in the NT.

Willeroo holds about 20,000 cat­tle and is next to Aroona, which Han­cock ac­quired ear­lier this year, al­low­ing the sta­tions to op­er­ate as a com­bined unit.

Mrs Rine­hart said Willeroo would also com­ple­ment Han­cock’s other prop­er­ties in north­ern Aus­tralia.

She said the in­ten­tion was to repli­cate mea­sures at Willeroo that had been suc­cess­fully in­tro­duced on other Han­cock sta­tions, and were cur­rently be­ing rolled out across Kid­man prop­er­ties.

Han­cock Agri­cul­ture chief ex­ec­u­tive David Larkin said with con­tin­ued in­vest­ment and the in­tro­duc­tion of new tech­nol­ogy and cat­tle-wel­fare pro­grams tri­alled suc­cess­fully at the Han­cock prop­er­ties, the beef port­fo­lio would grow.

It pre­sented greater tools for man­age­ment and economies of scale, and the op­por­tu­nity to in­crease stock num­bers and pro­duc­tiv­ity.

The Willeroo pur­chase means Mrs Rine­hart owns 29 agri­cul­tural prop­er­ties, which in­cludes a stud farm, two feed­lots, ex­port yards and a range of prop­er­ties across WA, NT, South Aus­tralia, Queensland and NSW. Last year, with Chi­nese part­ners, Mrs Rine­hart bought the S Kid­man & Co sta­ble of pas­toral prop­er­ties.

The move fol­lows fel­low mag­nate Kerry Stokes’ exclusive ne­go­ti­a­tions to sub­lease two Kim­ber­ley cat­tle sta­tions owned by the fi­nan­cially stricken Bunuba Dawan­garri Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion.

The deal would see Mr Stokes’ Aus­tralian Capital Eq­uity sub­lease the 80,000ha Fair­field and 405,000ha Leopold Downs sta­tions, near Fitzroy Cross­ing.

Mr Stokes owned Leopold in the 1980s with busi­ness part­ner Peter Murray.

Most of Leopold and parts of Fair­field were dam­aged in a fire that this month af­fected four Kim­ber­ley cat­tle sta­tions.

It is un­der­stood ACE was one of three par­ties in­vited to put a sub­mis­sion to the Bunuba peo­ple last week but had since en­tered into exclusive ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“At the mo­ment, you have some of the most run-down, yet beau­ti­ful sta­tions in the Kim­ber­ley,” a source fa­mil­iar with the deal said. “There is a real op­por­tu­nity for ACE with its capital and past his­tory of turn­ing sta­tions around to get in­volved while pro­vid­ing a cash in­jec­tion for the Bunuba peo­ple.”

There is ex­pected to be a ben­e­fit for the lo­cal peo­ple in terms of em­ploy­ment, con­struc­tion and trainee­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties. The length of the sub­lease is yet to be fi­nalised but could span 20 years.

In a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment, ACE sub­leased part of the 300,000ha Charn­ley River Sta­tion in the Kim­ber­ley from the Aus­tralian Wildlife Con­ser­vancy. ACE will fence off an area to ex­clude cat­tle from river sys­tems and ar­eas im­por­tant for en­dan­gered species.

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