Pastoralists slam hefty rent hike

Article by Jenne Brammer courtesy of the West Australian

Some of Australia’s biggest landholders, including the Holmes a Court family, are behind a flood of objections lodged with the Valuer-General over blistering five-year pastoral rent increases in the Pilbara and Kimberley.

Kimberley pastoralists were told in July their rents for the next five years would increase 327 per cent — equivalent to about an extra $100,000 a year — while Pilbara pastoralists were slugged with an 87 per cent hike.

The Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association said the owners of about 60 pastoral properties, representing about 40 per cent of the 149 leases across the Kimberley and Pilbara, had worked with the group to lodge objections by yesterday’s deadline. These included 43 through a bulk objection co-ordinated by the KPCA and Salerno Law.

The Holmes a Court owned Heytesbury Cattle Co, which owns the Flora Valley station in the Kimberley, has confirmed it is objecting.

Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Agriculture did not return calls. KPCA declined to comment on individual names.

KPCA chief executive Emma White said those objecting comprised a mix of major corporates, small and medium sized family businesses and the owners of indigenous leases.

Further objections are expected to have been lodged independently of the KPCA, given the steep rises have dealt a major blow to pastoralists already suffering extremely dry conditions.

“The key grounds for objections are that there were flaws in the valuation methodology in arriving at the unimproved capital value and also flaws in how the capitalisation rate was arrived at,” Ms White said.