In 2012, the NSW Government commenced a major review and reform of Crown land management. This was the first review in more than 25 years and necessary to align the governing arrangements for Crown land to the changing needs of the community.
The review culminated in the establishment of the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (the Act). The primary aim was to create a simplified legislative framework to manage Crown land, achieved by streamlining existing requirements and reducing red tape, particularly for the management of Crown reserves and the administration of Western lands leases.
The Minister for Lands and Forestry in 2018, the Hon. Paul Toole, as part of the creation of the role of the Crown Land Commissioner, required an independent assessment of the reform. The Commissioner addresses this requirement through an independent evaluation of the Act and its implementation over the last three years since commencement in July 2018.
The objectives of this evaluation were: (1) to assess if the desired outcomes of the reform are being achieved; (2) to assess the success of the operationalisation of the Act by the department; and (3) to identify key inhibitors to the success of the reform from an external stakeholder perspective.
To inform the review, the Commissioner sought stakeholder feedback from submissions to the Discussion Paper and broader, targeted consultation, and hearing from over 150 stakeholders. Findings from the feedback and engagement have shaped the recommendations within this evaluation report.
Seven focus areas were identified as opportunities for improvement to the legislation, and its operationalisation, to enable the best use of the NSW Crown estate. Over 1,400 suggestions and comments were made during the consultation period and have been considered in developing the key findings and recommendations. A separate summary report will be provided to the department that captures all the findings.
This report calls out significant issues and provides solutions through specific recommendations. These recommendations were based on stakeholder feedback, departmental monitoring and metrics, departmental feedback and the Commissioner’s independent observations and findings over the last two-and-a-half years.
The recommendations aim to remove constraints and create new opportunities. In short, these recommendations offer more streamlined and effective management of Crown land, helping reach the visions and aspirations for economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits for the people of NSW.