Posted on February 26, 2024 by Sue Puckeridge and Emma Wei

ALERT: Statutory Review of Crown Land Management Act 2016 – Key Issues to Consider

As part of a 5-year statutory review, the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure has been appointed to review the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (CLM Act).  During its review, it has released a discussion paper seeking input from stakeholders.

The CLM Act commenced on 1 July 2018, replacing the Crown Lands Act 1989. Its objectives included modernising the legislative framework to manage Crown land, simplifying procedures, supporting greater local-decision making, and increasing Aboriginal involvement in the management of Crown land.

The review aims to assess whether the policy objectives of the CLM Act remain relevant and whether its terms remain appropriate for securing those objectives. The consultation process of the review will also help identify areas for reforms that could improve the management of Crown lands.

The key areas of reform raised in the 26 consultation questions include:

  • Crown Land transactions
    • how could the CLM Act better support the strategic use of Crown land?
  • Management of Crown Land
    • how the management of Crown land with its appointment of Crown land managers could be improved;
    • whether the manager categories and their associated powers and obligations are fit for purpose and if the categories of land manager should be expanded;
    • whether Crown land managers should have greater flexibility to grant longer-term leases and licences of Crown land without Ministerial consent and if the powers of category 1 land managers should be aligned with those of council land managers, considering their similar native title obligations;
    • if further reforms are required regarding the CLM Act’s requirements for plans of management; should there be changes to when a plan is needed; who should submit a plan, or how the content is specified; should there be incentives for having a plan in place, such as greater autonomy for councils;
    • how the CLM Act could better ensure that the purposes for which land is dedicated or reserved are considered as part of a plan of management;
    • what changes may be required to the governance obligations of statutory land managers and their reporting obligations;
    • what changes may be required to improve the understanding of how Crown Land can be used and the purposes for which it can be dedicated or reserved; and
    • how to simplify the transfer of Crown land to native title holders under agreements?
  • Native Title Rights and Interests
    • views or experiences on:
      • the requirement for some Crown land managers to engage and retain a native title manager;
      • clarifying the role of the Minister (or the department as their delegate) in ensuring that advice from native title managers is sought and complied with;
      • if council and category 1 land managers should be responsible for seeking written advice from native title managers for all acts or activities on Crown land that may affect native title;
      • issuing native title certificates to exempt relevant Crown land managers from having to seek advice from a native title manager – should this option be replaced with another form of exemption or removed altogether; and
      • if council or category 1 land managers should be responsible for getting written advice about activities on the land they manage that may affect Aboriginal land rights and not just native title rights?
  • Protection, Compliance and Enforcement
    • are there other than the ways already in the CLM Act, in which compliance and enforcement issues could be addressed, or are there other gaps in the CLM Act measures to protect land in the Crown estate?
  • Financial and Administration matters
    • views on if principles to guide the determination and redetermination of royalties and enable objections to royalty amounts, as with rents, should be established?
  • Other matters
    • comments on the interaction of the CLM Act with other legislation.

The deadline for responding to the discussion paper is Tuesday, 19 March 2024.

On completion of the statutory review, the Minister will table a final report on the outcome of the review in each House of Parliament by 1 July 2024.

The Discussion Paper can be viewed here.

If you wish to discuss anything in this article, please leave a comment below or contact Sue Puckeridge on 02 8235 9702 or Emma Wei on 02 8235 9725.