The government’s addiction to privatisation is to spread to our Crown lands by stealth which will see these very precious social, economic and environmental resources lost to the people of NSW forever.
It is proposed to repeal the Crown Lands Act and introduce new legislation to parliament later this year that is simply a privatisation Bill and will provide a conduit to cover up the rorting of our Crown lands.
And indications are the people of NSW will not see this new legislation over our land until after it is pushed through parliament.
Crown reserves provide many of our open spaces, parks, caravan parks, sports fields, showgrounds, community halls, access to our beaches, rivers, waterways etc. and have been enjoyed by many generations.
Along with our travelling stock reserves that are vital for sustainability of our food and fibre resources, our Crown reserves should be protected for this and future generations.
The government had us believe the ‘Crown Land Management Review’ (commenced 2012) was independent. However, evidence revealed at the recent Crown Land Inquiry was the ‘independent author’ of the review did not write the report – it was in fact written by the department and was its own internal review!
Following the handing down of the desk top review ‘Holding Redlich Report’ into Crown land management June 2015, this very same department was described as needing training in “fraud and corruption prevention”.
The recent Parliamentary Inquiry into Crown land has exposed wide ranging and serious issues re the mismanagement of our Crown lands. Now a detailed analysis has been submitted to the Inquiry and the Premier re the false/misleading evidence to the Inquiry from the government reps.
To add to the very murky mismanagement of our Crown land over several years the NSW Auditor-General has now handed down a very damming report ‘Sale and Lease of Crown Land’ last month.
Findings include ‘between 2012-15 97 per cent of leases were negotiated directly between the department and individual, without a public expression of interest process’ and ‘decisions on sale and lease of Crown land are not transparent to the public’ and ‘the department’s overall governance of decision-making for the sale and lease of Crown land is inadequate and has exposed the department to risk’.
Further to this mess the minister has had to correct false statements made in Parliament over our Crown lands last month only to make more false claims!
Since the High Court case ruling in 1959 referred to as ‘Rutledge’ this has stood the test of time in the legal management of our Crown land and is indeed key to the government’s own ‘Crown Land Trust Handbook’. So why is it so difficult for the government to manage our Crown land assets in the interests of the people of NSW.
Conclusively the years of rorting of our Crown lands warrants a Royal Commission to go some way towards restoring public confidence in our governments and bring an end to the days of Obeid/McDonald style governance that continues to roll on.
With a number of successful court cases and many yet untested over our Crown land illegalities an alliance of community groups in NSW has come together to stand united over the abuse of Crown land, our land.
Lindy Smith, Tweed Heads