ALP north-coast spokesperson Walt Secord has moved a motion in state parliament to create a regional park over a rare remnant of Tweed coastal crown land known locally as Lot 490.
But the move has come under attack from an unexpected source, with Greens MLC Jan Barham saying the move was premature and should await the outcome of a land-rights claim.
Mr Secord introduced the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Reservation of Lot 490) Bill 2015 into parliament yesterday.
In his speech, Mr Secord said the bill would ‘put a stake through the white shoe brigade and the National Party which want to develop the land.’
He challenged National Party MPs to support the bill and congratulated the hard work of Save Lot 490’s Ron Cooper and his team and Richmond MP Justine Elliot for their tireless efforts to protect Lot 490.
‘On 15 December 2014, Labor pledged to turn lot 490 into a regional park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. Putting Lot 490 into the national parks system would protect it forever; this legislation honours that pledge,’ Mr Secord said.
‘As recently as October 2015, the Baird government admitted that its Crown Lands office had declared lot 490 as “government property” on the register of potential properties to sell,’ he added.
‘Sadly, the north coast is becoming a developer battleground, with the Nationals and their developer mates on one side and pretty much the whole community on the other.
‘That was evident recently in the battle for the mayoralty of Tweed shire. But the Nationals are beholden to developer interests. The Nationals are doing everything in their power to wrest control of the council away from those who want to protect the unique quality of life on the north coast.
‘I am calling on the Nationals to support the bill and ensure that Lot 490 and its rare flora and fauna and this important piece of public open space is protected forever,’ Mr Secord said.
But the Greens’ spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs and Crown Lands, Jan Barham, says the ALP has ‘undermined Aboriginal land rights in the Tweed by introducing legislation that would affect a land claim.’
Ms Barham said Lot 490 had a long history of being earmarked for development by both local and state governments and called for the importance of both the Aboriginal land claim and the environmental and cultural values of the site to be respected.
‘This significant and environmentally sensitive area is currently protected from development by Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council’s land claim, which is one of thousands across the state waiting to be finalised. The legislation introduced by NSW Labor shows no regard for the importance of that claim,’ Ms Barham said.
‘Any announcement on the end use of the land is premature, and it undermines the intent of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to provide self-determination and compensation for the traditional owners and custodians of the land.
‘Labor has disregarded the fundamental importance of Aboriginal land rights and the need for self-determination and negotiation with the Aboriginal community. This bill mustn’t proceed until the land claim has been determined, and I call on the government to ensure the claim is resolved as quickly as possible.
She added that it was Labor’s Tony Kelly ‘who removed Tweed Shire Council as trustees of the Crown reserve in 2004 and then proposed leasing the site for a major development by Leighton Holdings, which thankfully fell through.’
‘For Labor to claim that they are the environmental protectors of the Tweed defies belief, and for them to undermine Aboriginal land rights in the process is disgraceful,’ Ms Barham said.