Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - 23 April 1975



Debates Day 2 - 23 April 1975

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Parliamentary Record 3


Northern Territory. Department of the Legislative Assembly


Debates for 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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pages 215 - 227

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES-Wednesday 23 April 1975 Mrs Lawrie: It was given to the public of Darwin; everyone is entitled to it. CROWN LANDS BILL (Serial 35) Bill presented and read a first time. Dr LETTS: I move that the bill now be read a second time. This again is a piece of governmentsponsored legislation. It covers several areas of the Crown Lands Ordinance and a variety of matters, some of which date back 10 or 11 years, consideration of which has led to the drafting of this bill. The first area is in connection with stocking covenants of pastoral leases in relation to soil conservation and control legislation. Some honourable members will remember that, back in the days of the major Alice Springs drought between 1958 and 1964, the whole of the Alice Springs pastoral district was in default as far as its pastoral leases were concerned because none of them were able to comply with the minimum stocking requirements contained in the Crown Lands Ordinance. An investigation carried out by a special land board at that time recommended that some revision of the legislation would be appropriate. In about 1967, a Soil Conservation and Control Ordinance was introduced and passed in the Legislative Council and it was recognised at that time that there was some inconsistency between the Soil Conservation and Control Ordinance and the Crown Land Ordinance as they affected stocking convenants and conditions. The final attempt to tidy up those matters is represented in this bill. Section 37C of the Crown Lands Ordinance requires a pastoral lease to contain a covenant to stock the land and to keep its stock except when a notice is served on the lessee under sections 14 or 17 of the Soil Conservation and Control Ordinance. Section 14 of that ordinance provides for the serving of a soil conservation order on a landholder but makes no mention of a notice. Section 17 empowers the Administrator in Council to declare an area of land to be subject to erosion hazard by notice in the Gazette and to determine the number of livestock on the land but does not mention a notice to the lessee. Therefore, clause 3 of this bill proposes to amend section 37C of the Crown Lands Ordinance to relate the lease covenant to any limitations imposed by the Soil Conservation and Control Ordinance. 225 Legal opmlOn has also brought to light that, upon the expiry of a soil conservation order, the stocking covenant immediately takes effect again. This is obviously undesirable and provisions should also be made for the Administrator to grant an extension of time for compliance with the stocking covenants in the interests of conservation and in the interests of good management, with necessarily an application by the lessee and without a threat of forfeiture. Accordingly clause 4 of the bill amends section 39 to permit the Administrator to reduce the stocking covenant and if necessary to suspend the existing covenant while the matter is under consideration. The bill then moves into a different area and proposes to extend the provisions of the ordinance in respect of partial surrenders to include leases of town lands and miscellaneous leases subject to the consent of the Administrator since provision already exists for partial surrenders of the other types of leases under the Crown Lands Ordinance. Clauses 5 and 6 of the bill will achieve this. In the past, we have had similar sorts of problems in relation to pastoral leases in the Northern Territory where, if a lessee was to surrender a small part of his lease for a purpose, then he had to surrender the whole lease and start the process all over again. We had a couple of cases of that in the Victoria River district when Birrimba Homestead was found to be on somebody else's lease, and the same problems occurred when the new town site of Top Springs was being established. It was corrected in respect of pastoral leases but it is now proposed to extend this flexibility to the town lands and miscellaneous leases. In other words, if you have a town lands lease and you wish to surrender a small part of it, then you don't have to surrender the whole lease; you can do it by surrendering part of the lease. Finally, the bill gets into a fairly complicated area dealing with the question of occupation licences and seeks to expand the purposes for which occupation licences may be granted by the Administrator. Section 108 of the Crown Lands Ordinance deals with the granting of occupation licences over vacant crown land and section 109A deals with the granting of occupation licences on reserve land. Legal opinions obtained on the provisions of section 108 have indicated that those provisions are deceptively restrictive in that the other purposes mentioned therein