Labor changes proposed for Crown Lands legislation: but does it suit the Northern Tablelands?

GOOD LANDING: Labor candidate for Northern Tablelands Debra O'Brien and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall.
GOOD LANDING: Labor candidate for Northern Tablelands Debra O'Brien and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall.

While Northern Tablelands Labor candidate Debra O'Brien thought greater legislative protections for Crown Land were way overdue, and said her party's policy to see 20 more front line staff hired would achieve protections the community demanded, Nationals Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said, in this region, Crown Land was being very well managed by volunteer trusts.

"We will make the Commissioner of Crown Lands a full-time position to provide a strong voice to protect our state’s valuable properties and cultural and natural heritage," Ms O'Brien said.

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“This policy really resonates with the Armidale community. We were shocked when the Old Teacher’s college was abandoned by UNE. From out of nowhere it seemed the Crown Lands department appeared to swing into action with all kinds of rumours swirling around what this priceless icon’s fate would be.

“At the moment Armidale’s beloved old Court House is still on the auction block. The last-minute attempt at a heritage listing in no way promises that it won’t be sold. We go to this election with the old Courthouse still in jeopardy."

In our region we're very blessed to have our Crown Land well managed by multiple groups and volunteer trusts.

Adam Marshall

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said he did not understand why Ms O'Brien had used the examples of the Old Teacher's College and the old Courthouse because they were two entirely different things.

"The Old Teacher's College had nothing to do with Crown Land, and the NSW Department of Education took over the trust management of that facility on February 1. So, Crown Lands don't have anything to do with it," he said.

"In our region we're very blessed to have our Crown Land well managed by multiple groups and volunteer trusts, whether they're showgrounds or gun clubs, clay target clubs, golf clubs or sports reserves. Often, in a lot of areas local councils actually look after Crown Land as trust managers, or leasing that land, not the NSW Crown Land Department.

"And that's the way it should be, because this is land vested for the public interest and it works best when the public are involved in running and utilising it."

Shadow minister for lands, Mick Veitch, said protections offered by Labor's new legislation would also cover showgrounds, travelling stock routes, parks and other significant reserves.

"A key point in the Labor plan would be legislation to ensure that ownership of any Crown Land transferred to local councils remained community property, so it could not be sold off to the private sector without full parliamentary debate," he said.

This story Crown Lands debate sparked for Northern Tablelands first appeared on The Armidale Express.