WA's landmark legislation on management of Crown land takes effect

Introduction of diversification lease aims to help transition to net zero by 2050

WA's landmark legislation on management of Crown land takes effect

The government of Western Australia has announced that critical amendments to the Land Administration Act 1997 and Public Works Act 1902 have officially taken effect on August 10.

The amendments aim to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and enhance the management of Crown land. The amendments are expected to deliver increased opportunities, greater security for the pastoral industry, and a new form of non-exclusive tenure—the grant of a diversification lease under the Land and Public Works Legislation Amendment Act 2023. This innovative lease type is designed to facilitate multifaceted land use. It allows the use of large areas of Crown land for multiple purposes for various industries, including renewable energy, while supporting the state's objective to reach net zero by 2020.

By allowing the allocation of extensive tracts of Crown land for diverse purposes, the legislation aims to create employment and business opportunities, support capacity building, and generate other social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people, including opportunities to establish new businesses and partner with proponents for renewable energy and other projects. The benefits extend beyond economic gains, as the amendments support the establishment of new enterprises and amplify social and cultural initiatives.

Lands minister John Carey said, "This Act modernises two outdated laws and cuts red tape around land tenure approvals and projects to allow more efficient administration of the State's extensive Crown land estate."

The introduction of a diversification lease will support the state's transition to net zero by 2050 by opening up Crown land for renewable energy proposals while providing for the co-existence of mining and native title rights and interests similar to pastoral leases, Carey emphasised.

Moreover, the amendments grant pastoral lessees the ability to extend their lease terms, which ensures stability and continuity in the pastoral industry by allowing the transfer of pastoral permits when pastoral leases change hands. Operational adjustments like changes to the timing of mandatory annual returns are expected to streamline processes and align them with industry practices.

The Department of Planning, Lands, and Heritage undertook extensive public consultations to formulate the Land Administration Act 1997 reforms, including public consultation on the policy framework guiding the use of diversification leases on Crown land.

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