Communities in NSW will have a greater say in the management of crown land under an historic bill passed in the NSW Parliament.
Lands Minister Niall Blair said on Wednesday the new Crown Land Management Bill 2016 will pull together eight existing pieces of legislation into one, streamlined system “that will involve far greater engagement with the community”.
“For the first time in the history of the crown land legislation, consulting with local communities will be mandatory prior to any major decision that significantly changes the public’s use and enjoyment of crown land,” Mr Blair said in a statement after the bill passed through the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
However, the NSW opposition has warned the bill could pave the way for a “fire sale” of public land to agencies.
“This is a sneaky attempt by this government to give its own real estate hucksters the green light to put up a sale sign on public land,” Labor leader Luke Foley said in a statement last month after the legislation was proposed.
“Almost half of NSW is in the public’s hands and most people would want it to remain that way, despite the best efforts of Mike Baird to sell it off.”
Mr Blair insists the bill is about putting communities “at the heart of decisions about their land”.
He also emphasised enshrining the importance of crown land to indigenous Australians.
“The new legislation will require environmental, social, cultural heritage and economic considerations to be taken into account in decision making about crown land,” he said.