161107-dont-rush-the-crown-land-bill-share-squareAfter four years of review, 600 public submissions, a review from the Auditor General and a Parliamentary Inquiry, the Baird Government has finally handed down its proposed reforms to manage the Crown land estate. The Crown Land Management Bill 2016 creates a new, single piece of legislation to administer Crown land in NSW.

The Greens cannot and will not support the bill as it is presently drafted.

The reforms seem like a genuine first step ensuring that public land is properly managed for the public benefit, but with Crown land encompassing 42 per cent of land across the state we need to ensure that this bill is more than just a good start.

We need to make sure that this bill gets it right, is not rushed through and properly protects public land.

This bill could come to Parliament as early as tomorrow. 

What are the major shortcomings?

  • It fails to implement ecologically sustainable development principles for dealing with Crown lands
  • It doesn’t prioritise the public requirements and public interest in decision making related to public land
  • It does not require profits from private use of public land to be used for any public purpose
  • It allows Crown lands to be sold without any assessment of its social, environmental, cultural heritage and economic values
  • It places a large amount of land in the management of local councils without providing sufficient funding and guidance to ensure that it is appropriately managed
  • It provides no rights for affected communities to appeal against bad or improper decisions about Crown Lands
  • Breaches of consultation requirements will have no substantive impact on whether a project can go ahead or not
  • It overturns the High Court’s 1959 decision in Randwick Council v Rutledge which requires that Crown reserves held on trust for public recreation must remain open to the public generally as of right and not be a source of private profits (unless all profits are reinvested in the trust property).

What are the Greens doing?

  • We have been working with community groups, local councils and environment groups across the state to support the deferral of the bill
  • We are have put forward a comprehensive set of amendments including to ensure that ecologically sustainable development principles are prioritised, implement enforceable protections for retaining public land, ensure that community consultation is meaningful with enforceable criteria, reinstate the existing principles for retaining Crown Land and retain the public requirements and public interest in decision making related to public land

We have a real opportunity to stop this Bill from being rushed through Parliament, what can you do? 

Though the reforms to the system are well overdue, there are still many changes to be made before we can say NSW has a system that will properly manage and protect the 33 million hectares of Crown Land in this state.

The fact is, we shouldn’t be rushing crucial changes like this through Parliament in the last few sitting days of the year.