Cattle stations lose rent fight
Cattle stations lose rent fight

Two of Australia's biggest pastoralists have lost a landmark three-year fight for dramatic increases imposed on pastoral leases across the country's north to be reduced.

Paul Holmes a Court said rents on three of his Kimberley cattle stations had quadrupled after the State Government's standard five-year review in 2009.

He believed the Valuer-General had greatly overvalued the land.

He and the Kidman family, who run several stations across the Top End, claimed the methodology applied by the Valuer-General to determine lease rents was inconsistent and resulted in exorbitant pastoral leases in northern Australia.

The State Administration Tribunal rejected the challenge in what was a test case for other pastoralists across the State's north, whose leases increased by an average of 334 per cent three years ago.

"We're obviously disappointed," Mr Holmes a Court said. "We were asking that our rents should double and that that would be a reasonable adjustment.

"The Valuer-General was just doing their job which then leads us to conclude that if our pastoral leases are madness and are a nonsense - which they are - then responsibility must lie with somebody else, being the Government.

"We had to go down this very expensive route and got no result."

The hearing had previously been told stations in the Northern Territory paid far lower rents than those in the Kimberley.

Pastoral lease assessment in WA was reached according to unimproved capital values of the land, unlike in the NT.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA president Rob Gillam said the tribunal result highlighted the need for legislative changes to alter the way rents were assessed.

He said the increase was costing many pastoralists tens of thousands of dollars each year and believed the State should be divided into five different assessment zones.

"The next appraisal of rents is due for July 1, 2014 and I believe there is time for legislation to be considered and introduced," Mr Gillam said.

"We're not denying the need for there to be increases at times but they need to be within the range of business increases that people can accommodate."

The West Australian

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