Crown Lands Management Act 2016

Crown Lands Management Act 2016

28 November 2016 

The NSW Parliament has recently passed the Crown Land Management Act 2016.

The Act consolidates the statutory provisions for the use and management of Crown land in New South Wales and is expected to commence in 2018. It is the culmination of the Crown Lands Review which started in 2012.

Crown land is vitally significant to Aboriginal Land Rights and Aboriginal peoples, as claims over essentially unused and unneeded Crown land provide the principal compensatory mechanism of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has recently been working on ensuring Local Aboriginal Land Councils have an opportunity to fairly negotiate with the State Government and local councils over Crown land through Aboriginal Land Agreements.

This is seen as a welcome change from the adversarial approach that has historically been taken by the Government in relation to Aboriginal Land Rights. However, this approach does not replace the ongoing claiming of Crown land by NSWALC.

NSWALC has been supportive of the positive new elements of the Act, including:

  • acknowledgment of Aboriginal Land Rights, and the spiritual, social, cultural and economic importance of land to Aboriginal peoples
  • a legislative object: 'facilitating the use of Crown land by Aboriginal people'
  • protection against the transfer of Crown land under claim to local councils or Government agencies without consent of the relevant Aboriginal Land Council

NSWALC has been strongly opposed to negative elements of the Act and a number of amendments have been made to the legislation to improve them, including:

  • protection for thousands of land claims over Crown land with invalid secondary interests (generally leases and licences) lodged prior to the Goomallee decision - 9 November 2012.
  • public consultation and timeframe requirements for the Community Engagement Strategies for dealings in Crown land (eg sale/transfer/leasing).

LALCs with questions regarding the Act are encouraged to contact the Programs and Policy Unit on 9689 4444 or policy@alc.org.au

NSWALC's submission on the Crown Lands White Paper is available on the NSWALC website at: https://alc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/140620-NSW-Aboriginal-Land-Council-Crown-lands-review-submission.pdff

The NSWALC website also contains background to NSWALC's advocacy on this issues to date at: https://alc.org.au/culture-and-heritage/crown-lands-review . The most recent Network Message on the Crown Lands review is available at: https://alc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/140620-NSW-Aboriginal-Land-Council-Crown-lands-review-submission.pdf .