Legislative Council

GOVERNMENT BILL: Statutes Amendment and Repeal (Simplify) Bill - Crown Land contribution

March 2nd, 2017

Clause 21. The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Clauses 21 through to 35 constitute part 6 of the bill, and that involves amendments to the Crown Land Management Act 2009. I would like to put on the record my thanks to the government officials who took the trouble to brief me, not once but twice. I also have some written material that I want to put on the record.

In relation to the Crown Land Management Act, my original concern was that despite the name of the bill, and the object of the bill being to simplify red tape, it struck me that it might be beyond a mere coincidence that the Crown Land Management Act was being amended at the same time that the commonwealth government was seeking to impose an intermediate and low-level nuclear waste dump on crown land in South Australia, and so I sought assurances from the department that there was nothing in this legislation that impacted on that decision.

Members might recall that I have twice asked minister Hunter, as the minister responsible for crown lands, what conversations he or his department have had with the federal government over the potential use of crown land for this facility. The answer has come back twice that, at the time I asked them, there had been no conversations and no discussions. I just want to very quickly put on the record a written response that I received from the department in response to my question about whether the changes in this bill had any impact on this question of a nuclear waste dump on crown land. The government's response was:

We concur with Mr Parnell's observation of the practical implications of the Commonwealth National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 which allows a lessee of crown land to nominate the land for the purposes of a low-level medical radioactive waste management site. The difficulty in applying the Commonwealth Act comes about when a perpetual pastoral lease holder wishes to nominate crown land as a potential site; under the Crown Land Management Act 2009, a perpetual lease holder must seek the permission of the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation to excise any part of the land for such a purpose or to use any part of the land. The commonwealth legislation has only specified land granted by or on behalf of the Crown and does not acknowledge in law the obligations upon lessees for the use of crown land, current or future, nor does it discern between differing arrangements for land granted by or on behalf of the Crown. In this regard there is no mention in the commonwealth legislation of the role of the state and territory ministers responsible for crown land and appears to allow leaseholders to nominate directly to the commonwealth without any regard to the ministers of crown land in the appropriateness of the land as a radioactive waste storage site. As such there appears to be untested uncertainty about how the respective legislation, commonwealth or state, applies, when it applies and in what way.

So, I have added more mud to the water with that response. Basically, what the government is saying is that they do not really know what it means for the effective owner of the land, being the minister, not having been consulted about whether the land is going to potentially be used for a purpose that the act does not allow and for which permission has not been given.

I just want to put that answer on the record. I think that is important. I will not read the rest of it, but it went on to say that the bulk of the provisions in the Crown Land Management Act are in fact routine, they are red tape reduction. As a consequence, I will be supporting those provisions in the bill as they stand. I did want to put on the record the material I was provided.

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