Crown land overhaul could force fees at harbour: Bradbery

The NSW Government’s proposed Crown Lands overhaul could end up forcing councils to impose “user-pays” fees on public assets like Wollongong Harbour, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery has warned.
Nanjing Night Net

A bill before the NSW upper house gives lands minister Niall Blair the power to hand over Crown land–which may includeparks, golf courses, racing tracks, beaches and caravan parks –toa government agency.

At risk: Cr Gordon Bradbery says changes to the way Crown Land is managed could make visiting Wollongong Harbour more expensive.

The decision can be taken if the minister decides doing so is in the public interest or that the agency is “an appropriate owner and manager of the land”.

Cr Bradberysaid it appeared the government was seeking to”cost-shift” Crown lands, and worried they would hand-off the costs of maintenance to local councils.

“It’s my understanding that the government’s going to create the opportunity for Crown landto be moved over to councils and that’s an exercise in cost shifting,” he said. “The pressure would then be on the councils to dispose of it, or make it operational land.”

He said Wollongong Harbour was an example of an area of Crown land which badly needed government resources, but said users and ratepayerswould lose out if the responsibility was shifted from the state government to the council.

“If the harbour was in our hands, we would have to find the money to restore the [broken]wallsand to maintain it. It might mean the council would have to find money within its funding base –ratepayers –or impose costs on the users of harbour.”

Kully Bay, Warrawong.

Meantime, Cr Bradbery’sbyelection Labor opponentPaul Scully said the overhaul could lead to developers taking over public land.

Mr Scully said Labor would “fight to strike this clause out of the legislation”, as it putthe future of the Illawarra’s lake and beach foreshores at risk of being sold without public scrutiny.

He called on theBaird Government to guarantee it would not sell land around Kully Bay or beachside landto developers.

In 2014, the government transferred Kully Bay to its Government Property department, after the Lake Illawarra Authority was disbanded.

“This land is public land and it must remain that way – no ifs, buts or maybes,” Mr Scully said.“Foreshore land in the Illawarra is highly valued for its environmental and recreational value and our community does not want to see it sold off to make way for high rise developments.”

– withSMH

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