Land claim victory won’t threaten the Bathurst Car Race

Land claim victory won't threaten the Bathurst Car Race

  2 July, 2009

 A recent land claim victory on a disused Nature Park on Mount Panorama in Bathurst does not threaten the staging of the annual Bathurst 1000 or similar races held at the world famous circuit.

Craig Cromelin, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council's representative for the Wiradjuri Region, said that the decision by the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal to award the Sir Joseph Banks Nature Reserve to the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council would not restrict access or threaten the staging of the annual activities on Mount Panorama.

"The Land awarded to the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council is approximately 40 hectares in extent, an area known as the Sir Joseph Banks Nature Park."

"It is a welcomed decision ending an eight year legal process." he said.

"It is regretful that we are constantly being forced into litigation to defend our legal rights to make legitimate claims for land under the compensatory regime enshrined in the Aboriginal Land Rights Act," Councillor Cromelin said.

"Sadly, there is little understanding by the wider community that valid land claims remain the sole form of compensation available to Aboriginal people in New South Wales for the dispossession of land."

The CEO of the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council, Warwick Peckham, said that media speculation that the decision to award the Nature Park would threaten the future of the Bathurst motor race is concerning.

"It won't.  We deliberately amended the original claim to make sure ongoing access by emergency vehicles to the Mt Panorama circuit would not be threatened.

"I want to assure everyone that we will work with all parties to ensure future use of the park will be a win-win situation for everyone.

"We have had many approaches for so many different sectors - these include private enterprise, local government and environment groups suggesting future uses for the park.

"We've had to wait 8 years to win the land claim, so we won't be rushed into making any final decision.  Any decision on the future of the disused nature reserve is for the membership of the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council"

"We will work with all parties to ensure the land is used effectively," he said.

The land claim over the Nature Park was originally lodged by the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council on 21 August, 2001 after the former Bathurst City Council closed the reserve to the public.

This Claim was rejected by the Minister for Lands who was of the opinion that theReserve was not claimable Crown land as provided in the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

Bathurst LALC appealed against the Minister's decision in the Land and Environment Court which ruled that the Reserve was indeed claimable Crown land as, at the date of the claim, it was not lawfully used or occupied.

The Minister appealed against this decision that appeal that was dismissed by the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal on June 10.

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Further information:  Peter Windsor 0400 554 603