NSW Reconstruction Authority to be created

24 November 2022

The Reconstruction Authority Bill 2022 passed NSW Parliament on 17 November 2022.

The Bill will establish an NSW Reconstruction Authority (NSWRA) and is modelled on a similar agency established in Queensland 11 years ago. The Bill is the NSW Government’s response to a key recommendation of the NSW Flood Inquiry held earlier this year.

The Reconstruction Authority Bill 2022 has the following elements:

  • The primary object of the Bill is “to promote community resilience to the impact of disasters in New South Wales through (a) disaster prevention, preparedness and adaptation, and (b) recovery and reconstruction following disasters.”
  • The NSWRA will have a range of functions for the purposes of planning, mitigating, preparing etc. for emergencies, natural disasters, disaster recovery.
  • The NSWRA does have powers to carry out certain developments on certain lands – which could include Aboriginal Land Council lands. There are a range of safeguards on this e.g. only during a state of emergency or the authorisation is necessary to protect the safety and welfare of members of the public.

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW) (ALRA) (s.42B) states that Aboriginal Land Council land cannot be appropriated or resumed except by an Act of Parliament. The Bill does not displace s.42B of the ALRA.

In relation to Aboriginal lands under Part 4A of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, s.71S and s.37 of that Act also prevent compulsory acquisition except by an Act of Parliament. 

The Bill requires that the Minister consult with the Minister administering the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 before authorising a project on national parks (s.65(5)).

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon. Ben Franklin noted the following in Parliament relating to the Bill: “I say publicly and on record that there is no intention under the bill to compulsorily acquire land from Aboriginal people.”

NSWALC will closely monitor the implementation of the Bill.

If you have questions relating to the Bill, please contact NSWALC Strategy and Policy Unit: policy@alc.org.au.

Further information about the Bill is here: Hansard for NSW Reconstruction Authority Bill 2022 and NSW Reconstruction Authority Bill 2022.