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Byron Shire
January 22, 2022

NSW Govt overhauls Crown land management 

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Hans Lovejoy

A management plan that will impact approximately 42 per cent, or around 34 million hectares of NSW, has been announced by the NSW government.

At 28 pages, Crown land 2031 says it will establish ‘a strategic framework to encourage investment, facilitate innovative new uses and rethink the way in which Crown land contributes to the economy’. 

The plan accompanies the Crown Land Management Act 2016.

So what is Crown land? 

Page 25 reads, ‘NSW is Aboriginal land. Following European settlement, colonial and then successive state governments asserted ownership over the land and proceeded to survey and allocate land, and to record and guarantee tenures. This created freehold property rights for settlers.

‘The remainder of the land became Crown land, held in public trust. At the same time, infrastructure was progressively installed on Crown land, including community halls, Crown roads, showgrounds, sports fields and parks which remain integral to community life in NSW’.

The plan says that ‘national parks and state forests are not considered Crown land’.

A top priority, according to Crown land 2031, is to ‘Accelerate economic progress in regional and rural NSW’, along with ‘Accelerate the realisation of Aboriginal land rights and native title in partnership with Aboriginal people, protect cultural heritage on Crown land and protect environmental assets, improve and expand green space and build climate change resilience’.

Under Crown land 2031, the government says management will ‘grow in size and capability’.

Privatising assets?

Local NSW MP, Tamara Smith (Greens), told The Echo, ‘When I see the concepts of “public ownership” and “economic potential” in the same sentence, alarm bells start to ring. A community garden or surf club on Crown land brings countless benefits to a community that may not deliver a purely economic bottom line’.  

‘Does this mean that priority for leasing Crown land will be given to organisations that can deliver a purely economic return? Does this mean that peppercorn rents will disappear for community organisations in favour of high rent paying business style tenants?

‘When I see this kind of rhetoric from the LNP, I ask myself, “how are things working now?” 

‘The Department of Crown Land has been gutted, within an inch of its life, and is chronically under resourced, which means getting responses from them typically takes six months. How does that department deliver such agility and modernity, we may well ask?

‘The privatisation of our caravan parks was couched in similar glowing terms; around tourism and economic benefits. But what we have seen from the privatisation of holiday parks on Crown land is loss of public land and loss of community say about those public assets. 

‘Aboriginal communities without native title are often the last folk to be advised or consulted about Crown land assets. With that kind of track record the lofty aim of “advancing Aboriginal interests” surely needs some detailed intention to consult with Aboriginal communities?’

Ms Smith adds, ‘As the NSW Greens tourism spokesperson, I will certainly be keeping an eye on the detail of this policy announcement. The LNP have a track record of privatising public assets and calling it “asset recycling”.’ 


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Why do I get the feeling that the NSW Government’s recent changes to the North coast rail corridor are somehow related to this? Have they become emboldened?

  2. We NEED to make a sizeable amount of Crown Lands accessible to family dogs off-leash.
    Our canine buddies enhance our hiking experiences and they really need to run, explore and play with their human family.
    Dogs give us so much. When and why did we decide they needed to live their lives on a leash?

    • Dogs are great, and I do agree that they need freedom to explore the real world, however, I don’t believe they have anything to contribute to the argument about how the LNP can convert publicly owned assets into their private wealth and political position.
      Perhaps you believe that they have as much relevance, as to how we should preserve these priceless lands which belong to all the citizens of Australia, as do the members of a racially based exclusive group dedicated to “advancing Aboriginal interests”.
      This is too important an issue to be squandered for the benefit of any random pressure group and must be decided on by the whole country. I would favour that all of it should be at the disposal of the natural environment, and any species still surviving the imbecilic actions of Homo ‘sapiens’ [ so typically arrogant and obviously wrong -meaning “one who knows”].
      Cheers , G”)

  3. So crown land recognises that its stolen, Aboriginal land and the only land that’s available to claim back through Native Title. Why hasn’t the land been handed back to the traditional custodians…? Those words mean nothing. “Just another day in the Colony”

  4. Many relevant arguments including domesticated animal use. Real people having a say. Nice to see.
    The ongoing degradation of the natural habitats and natural ecosystems are not important when it comes to “economic development”. This is nowhere more evident than Qld and Nsw. Will it ever be any different? Please don’t hold your breath.
    One world without government, not “one world government”. Our only opportunity is together not governed.
    Love.

  5. Another aspect of privatisation I’d like to know more about is the liquidation of paper roads. We are facing the loss of a whole network of potential public walking trails.

  6. For a history of land titling in NSW, see here https://nswlrs.com.au/Searching-Guides . Not only do Bruz and Glad want to sell everything not bolted down, the LNP have already sold off the NSW Land Titles Office to a private interest. How did that one get through??

    “Crown” land? Well I guess that means any “unalienated” land ie land that still belongs to the “crown” and not held in “fee simple” like the blocks of land our homes are on. At present, the holder of that crown moniker is Betty Windsor. No apology from her yet about a country (one of many) that was “never ceded”.

    Crown ownership was first tested when Batman tried to buy some swampland in Port Phillip from the locals (Kulin) in 1835 (when it was still part of NSW). This “treaty” was shafted by Gov. Bourke on the grounds that it wasn’t really their Country but actually belonged to the crown. How’s that for a land grab?

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