Changes are underfoot to the way that Crown Land is to be managed in NSW.
The Crown Lands Management Act 2016 (CLMA) will see the Narrandera Shire Council appointed as managers of Crown Lands in the Shire.
Crown Lands within the Narrandera Shire include the Narrandera Flora and Fauna Reserve, Lake Talbot Tourist Park, Henry Mathieson Oval, Narrandera Cemetery, Grong Grong Sportsground and waste (landfill) depots.
It is unknown precisely when Council will be expected to begin their role as managers, but it will be sometime in 2018.
Unfortunately, the Council will not be in any position to alter the requirements of their management; they will simply absorb the responsibility of management.
Some of the nuts and bolts of Crown Land Management were brought forward in a presentation at last week’s meeting, delivered by Governance and Engagement Manager Craig Taylor.
“Essentially all land in the State that except for private property and State Forest is Crown Land,” Mr Taylor said.
“Crown Land includes caravan parks, aged care facilities, showgrounds and cemeteries.
“Currently Narrandera manages about 20 crown land sites that we know about. There’s probably more.”
Mr Taylor explained that a small cemetery near Grong Grong has only recently been discovered to be under the management of the Narrandera Shire Council.
“It is highly likely that other Crown reserves will be discovered during the transition process and in the absence of any other trustee, the council may have to take on responsibility for their management. This could have serious implications for council’s budget in years to come,” he said.
With the transfer of management to local councils, it will mean changes to the responsibilities of local governments.
“Councils will not be required to seek ministerial approval for a lot of things. They can still issue leases and licenses, although a lease greater than 21 years will need ministerial approval.
“Native title will now become the responsibility of the Council.”
Mr Taylor said that the transfer of management would result in the creation of a role for a qualified native title manager.
Cr Tammy Galvin voiced the opinion that the State Government was “buck-passing” its responsibilities on to local government.
“The whole thing is voluntary. There are no forced transfers. But the current system has too much red tape,” Mr Taylor said in response.
“There’s a significant backlog of road closures that’s about eight years old.
“Basically if it does go ahead, it becomes much more simple. With road closures, the Council runs the process, and there’s no Minister to sign off.”
The Council also received more information regarding the responsibilities and procedures of managing road closures during last week’s meeting.
At present the Council consults on behalf of the Office of Crown Lands then forwards the application with a recommendation to the Office of Crown Lands for determination; whereas the new Act makes Council the decision maker.