Crown land management & native title

A deep understanding of crown land management & native title issues

The management, development, sale and acquisition of Crown land has always been a challenge for public sector agencies, at both state and local levels of government.

The challenge was increased with the new regime of Crown land management that came into force in 2018. Since then, councils have had a statutory obligation to deal with transferred or managed Crown land in a manner that protects native title rights and interests.

Councils also have an obligation to indemnify the State of NSW for actions of the council that affect native title rights and interests arising from the council’s dealings with transferred or managed Crown land, including, but not limited to, property dealings and civil works.

As a native title adviser to a number of councils across NSW, LTL has the unique specialist expertise to advise councils and other agencies on their obligations, systems and processes in regard to the management of Crown land under the new regime.

Where we can assist

Our Crown Land Management & Native Title team – led by Dr Lindsay Taylor, Megan Hawley and Frances Tse – regularly provide our public and private sector clients with specialist advice and representation in relation to matters including:

  • advice on and interpretation of the Crown Lands Management Act 2016 (‘Act’), including:
    • role of council as “council managers” of dedicated or reserved Crown land under the Act and any transitional roles as Reserve Trust Managers
    • interpretation and advice of the Minister’s instrument of appointment as a “council manager”
    • advice on what is a “permitted purpose” for the application of proceeds from managing Crown land
    • advising Native Title Managers on their functions and responsibilities under the Act
  • sale, purchase and compulsory acquisition of Crown land and preparation of related documents
  • registration of easements on Crown land
  • preparation of leases in respect of Crown land, both above and below the mean high water mark
  • development and use of Crown land, including:
    • advising on landowner’s consent issues
    • plans of management
    • court proceedings relating to the use of crown reserves
    • closure of local roads for which council is the consent authority
    • rezoning of and classification of Crown land
    • rent and rating issues for Crown land, including representation in rent review or valuation proceedings
    • advising on the operation and effect of the Crown development provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
    • application of development contributions for public purposes in respect of Crown land
    • construction of public infrastructure on or in Crown land and occupation of Crown land for that purpose

In relation to specific native title issues that arise out of the Crown Lands Management Act 2016,  our services and expertise include:

  • providing briefing sessions and skills training to Councillors and staff about native title matters
  • keeping our council clients up-to-date with information about court decisions, legislation and the like concerning native title matters affecting the council,
  • assisting councils in determining whether Crown land under its management is “Relevant Land” or “Excluded Land’ in accordance with Division 8.3 of the Act
  • assisting councils with the preparation of leases, licences, permits, easements or rights of way over the land, covenants, conditions or other restrictions on use of land that may have native title implications,
  • assisting councils to formulate or review plans of management, policies and procedures to ensure compliance with native title requirements,
  • advising on whether a proposed Act will affect native title and the subsequent application of the ‘Future Acts Regime’ of the Native Title Act 1993
  • providing written advice and reports to councils for acts or dealings performed by councils, as outlined in the Native Title Manager’s Handbook, The Crown Land Management Act 2016
  • preparing briefs and providing appropriate advice where it is uncertain as to whether a future act may be valid and prepare reports to council accordingly
  • assisting councils with communications and correspondence with Indigenous persons or bodies relating to native title matters, including preparing notices and liaising with native title claimants and relevant Aboriginal Land Councils in relation to proposed acts where necessary
  • representing or assisting councils in negotiations with Indigenous parties relating to native title matters, including advising on and representation in native title and Aboriginal Land Rights Claims over Crown land
  • assisting councils with any compulsory acquisition of native title rights and interests in relation to Crown land under Division 8.4 of the Crown Land Management Act 2016