Labor policy will increase security of Crown Land

Labor’s commitment to ‘dedicate’ Crown Land will increase security and lower the risk of sell-offs and inappropriate use

The National Parks Association of NSW Inc (NPA) is welcoming Shadow Primary Industries Minister Mick Veitch’s announcement to ‘dedicate’ Crown Land, and calls on the Coalition to match the commitment.

The move would subject future sales or long-term leases to Parliamentary scrutiny, thus providing a layer of much needed transparency to an oft-opaque system.

Dedicating Crown Land is an important step, because Crown Land, covering 42% of NSW is public land. Once public land is sold or alienated, it’s very hard to get back. Ensuring that decision-making affecting Crown Land, particularly Travelling Stock Routes, prioritise the long-term public interest has been a priority for NPA for many decades.

The Audit Office of NSW, last December identified continued failings in the Department of Industry’s management of the Crown Land estate. Decision-making affecting Crown Land has often lacked transparency and been at Ministerial discretion.

The 2016 Inquiry into Crown Land received hundreds of submissions that expressed concern over the sale and misuse of Crown Land, and government decisions often prioritises short-term economic outcomes over the protection of the numerous cultural and natural values of Crown Land.

Because they harbour threatened species and ecological communities and are often the last remnants of high-quality native vegetation in the sheep-wheat belt, NPA urges timely dedication of Travelling Stock Routes (TSRs) to ensure ad-hoc long-term leases do not compromise the value of the network as a whole.

An Office of Environment and Heritage assessment found that 71% of TSRs were of high conservation value and 27% of medium conservation value.

A dedicated TSR network, managed by a better resourced Local Land Services, would help ensure the persistence of threatened species and ecological communities, and protect a vital component of Aboriginal and European cultural heritage. ENDS

Media contact: Cathy Merchant, Crown Lands spoksperson: 0400 632 933

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