12 December, 2019
The Australian Government announced an independent review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust on October 30. The current deadline to make a submission to the review is 23 December
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
The Harbour Trust is a transitional body that was established in 2001 to preserve and rehabilitate former defence sites and other Commonwealth land in and around Sydney Harbour.
These sites include the picturesque sites of Headland Park in Mosman and North Head Sanctuary in Manly.
The review will advise on the future governance of these sites and will look at opportunities to enhance partnerships with the community and between governments to support the restoration and future use of these sites.
The Trust Act states in its preamble that the Trust will transfer suitable land to New South Wales for inclusion in the national parks and reserves system. The Trust Act is due to be repealed after 19 September 2033 and the Trust wrapped up. One of the purposes of this review is to consider that intent and to gauge public opinion on the future of the Trust.
The finite life of the Harbour Trust is becoming an increasing impediment to its operations. The fact that leases cannot extend beyond 2033 means there is little long term planning taking place. Determining what its long-term future will be is a fundamental consideration in addressing the challenges of completing rehabilitation of the sites and putting in place a sustainable financial model for their ongoing management.
WHAT’S THE RISK?
If the federal government does not continue supporting the Trust, these sites may no longer be protected. There are concerns from the community that this review – which only started receiving submissions in late October - will be used to justify handing over the lands to the NSW government which could lead to extensive commercialisation or over-development of the sites.
POSSIBLE OUTCOMES BEING CONSIDERED BY THE REVIEW
Scenarios for the future management of Harbour Trust lands could include:
- Establishment of the Trust as an ongoing entity.
- Expansion of the Trust’s site remediation and management role to other sites around Sydney Harbour or beyond.
- Wrap up of the Trust’s role in 2033 with its lands transferred to the New South Wales government, local councils or another Commonwealth entity.
In all cases it will be important to consider the protections needed to preserve public access and amenity and the significant environmental and heritage values of these iconic sites.
For your voice to be heard about what should happen to these sites it is vitally important that the Independent Review team hear from you – the local community!
Don’t wait – have your say now. Submissions currently close on December 23. For information and to make a submission visit this website: http://environment.gov.au/about-us/shft-independent-review
PUBLIC CONSULTATION PAPER
To assist you in making a submission, the Independent Review team has produced a public consultation paper which includes background information, discussion questions and instructions on how to make a submission. We strongly encourage you to read through the document here: https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/consultations/65d51c8f-27e6-4c72-b1b2-e7fe8f0764fb/files/shft-review-consultation-paper.pdf