13 October, 2016

Community values at odds with Baird’s Crown lands sell-off plans

A report released today by a NSW upper house parliamentary committee found the community opposes government plans to sell off Crown lands, which people cherish for their environmental, social and cultural values. [1]

Off the back of today’s report, the NSW Nature Conservation Council and the NSW National Parks Association are is calling for a full audit of Crown lands to ensure threatened species habitat is adequately protected and never sold.

“Premier Baird is poised to introduce significant changes in Crown lands management without coming clean with the people about what’s really at stake,” Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said.

“We have not seen his draft legislation and the government can’t tell us what environmental values are at risk from these proposals.

“The parliamentary report shows that when the government looks at Crown lands, it sees dollar signs, and when the people look at Crown land, they see a rich environmental and cultural legacy that they want protected for future generations.

“Citizens have a right to know what treasures these lands contain before Mr Baird flogs them off or transfers them to local councils.

“Crown lands are often the last remnants of critical threatened species habitat, especially in the heavily cleared inland districts of the state, so the government has a duty to retain and protect them.”

NSW National Parks Association CEO Kevin Evans said: “This report sends a strong signal to the government that its focus on the economic benefits of Crown lands is misplaced and that it should move away from its proposed business-style approach.

“The community has made its views on Crown lands clear. People want them managed for their environmental and cultural values, not as just another resource to be exploited.

“The inquiry recommended the government consider an audit of the ecological values of Crown lands, including its local, regional and state environmental significance.

“We strongly support this recommendation and want to see ongoing protection of areas of high ecological value.”

Both organisations are calling on the government to release a draft exposure bill for community consultation, rather than introduce the bill into parliament without giving the community a changes to see what it contains, as is currently the plan. 

TIMELINE

2012

Government announced comprehensive review of the NSW Crown land estate.

2013

Crown Lands Management Review (Carapiet Review) and Government Response

2014

White Paper consultation

2015

Local Council Pilot Study (confidential)

Government released response to White Paper submissions

Early 2016

Targeted stakeholder consultation

Late 2016

New Bill introduced into NSW Parliament

 

REFERENCES: [1] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2404#tab-reports

 

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