Posted on June 29, 2018 by Frances Tse and Megan Hawley

Transitional Arrangements for Councils as Reserve Trust Managers

The provisions of the Crown Land Management Act 2016 (‘CLM Act’) which are not yet in force will commence operation on 1 July 2018 and the existing Crown Lands Act 1989 (‘Former Act’) will be repealed on that day.

The CLM Act abolishes reserve trusts and reserve trust managers under the Former Act, and provides for the appointment of local councils (and others) as ‘Crown land managers’ in respect of land which was previously held by reserve trusts.

However, recently, savings and transitional provisions were inserted into the CLM Act to provide councils with a 12 month transition period from 1 July 2018 in respect of the management of reserve trust land.

On and from 1 July 2018:

  • except for limited exceptions, land that was vested in a reserve trust under the Former Act (‘transitional trust land‘) becomes Crown land, is no longer vested in the reserve trust, and is taken to be vested in the Crown,
  • until 30 June 2019, in respect of any reserve trust whose affairs are currently managed by a local council under s.95 of the Former Act (‘transitional reserve trust‘):
    • the reserve trust continues in existence and is taken to be appointed as the ‘Crown land manager’ for the land that was vested in it before 1 July 2018,
    • the trust over the transitional trust land continues in effect,
    • the reserve trust is taken to be a ‘council manager’ under the CLM Act, and
    • specified sections of the Former Act which deal with the existence and administrative operation of reserve trusts will continue to apply to the reserve trust,
  • in all other respects, the provisions of the CLM Act will apply to  local councils.

The effect of the above savings and transitional arrangements are that all the provisions in the CLM Act relating to a ‘Crown land manager‘ and ‘council manager‘ will apply to a reserve trust until 30 June 2019. This includes provisions relating to management of the transitional trust land as if it were public land within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993, and compensation responsibilities in respect of any compensation payable under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). 

A circular published by the Office of Local Government states that the transition period is for councils to make the necessary operational changes such as updating financial, banking, tax and insurance details associated with their reserve trusts. In practice, local councils who manage the affairs of the reserve trust will need to ensure that the provisions of the CLM Act are complied with.

On and from 1 July 2019 transitional reserve trusts and any trust over the trust land will be abolished and local councils themselves will be taken to be the ‘Crown land manager’ of dedicated or reserved Crown land under the CLM Act.