Reforms to how public land is managed and protected were rushed through Parliament by the Baird Government last night, with the Crown Land Management Bill passing the Upper House at 3.40am.
The Greens successfully moved amendments to save every commons across the state. There are approximately 200 commons across the state where the local residents and farmers share the management of local community land.
The Greens also supported amendments that resinstated management principles to preserve the environmental and social values in Crown land as well as additional protections for Crown land being transferred to local councils.
But the bill still leaves public land vulnerable to privatisation. It fails to protect the environmental values of public land and doesn’t include ecologically sustainable development principles.
Greens MP Justice and Crown Lands Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Despite widespread outrage from community groups and environmental campaigners, the Baird Government rushed its Crown Lands reforms through at 3.40am.
“In a pretty tough night for public land, the Greens successfully moved an amendments to protect every commons across NSW. This was in part thanks to a passionate grassroots effort from the St Albans community.
“Crown land management principles to protect environmental and social values were also reinstated after a campaign run by crown land advocates and environment groups.
“While the lengthy debate produced some genuine improvements to the Bill, even with those amendments the Greens could not support it in its final form.
“The bill still leaves public land vulnerable to privatisation, fails to protect the environmental values of land in the Western Division and doesn’t include ecologically sustainable development principles.
“While the Greens were not successful in having ecologically sustainable development principles expressly included, elements have been incorporated into the crown land management principles that were inserted in to the bill last night.
“Unfortunately Greens efforts to protect the Western Lands division from transferred lease to freehold were not successful. We are now likely to see an open slather sale of land in the Western Division.
“These changes combined with the pending repeal of native vegetation laws raise the prospect of a devastating level of vegetation loss in the western two thirds of NSW.
“We still have serious concerns about the undermining of public interest and public purpose provisions in managing Crown land, and in particular an erosion of the Rutledge principle.
“It is now essential that the whole community keeps an eye on what happens to our precious public land across the state.
“Crown land, whether Hyde Park in the centre of the city, Stuart Park in Wollongong, King Edward Park in Newcastle, Paddington Bowling Club or the Talus Trust in Willoughby, is a precious and increasingly scarce public asset. It must be protected.
“We want to thank all the Crown land and public land campaigners who have taken up the struggle to protect our common heritage. We could not have achieved what we did without you.” Mr Shoebridge said.