Statement on the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Review Report

18 June, 2020

Today the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, released the Independent Review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Report. The Report has come after extensive consultation with the community over a period of several months.

Upon being aware of the review, I attended community forums, met with the reviewers as well as the Minister. My volunteers also hand delivered information packs to households encouraging submissions to the Review.

Make no mistake, this is a great win for the Warringah community and any who value the conservation of our heritage and natural environment.

I thank the reviewers, former Secretary of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Ms Carolyn McNally and former Executive Director if Infrastructure NSW, Ms Erin Flaherty for going above expectations and making themselves available and accessible to the public over this period. I also thank the Minister too for her accessibility and consultation.

The Sydney Harbor Federation Trust was established in 2001 as a statutory body by the Commonwealth Government pursuant to the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act 2001 (the Act). The purpose of the Trust was to “conserve and preserve land in the Sydney Harbour region for the benefit of present and future generations.”

The Act also requires the Trust to enhance the amenity of the land under management while protecting, conserving and interpreting the environment and heritage values of the land. This includes developing management plans which meet the objectives of the Act.

At the time the Trust was intended only to be a transitional body with management to transfer to New South Wales in 2032.

This review represents the most significant undertaking in analysing the performance of the Trust and underpinning Act in meeting that purpose, since the establishment of the Trust. Whilst the community had been positive about past performance the review offered the opportunity to provide submissions and give evidence to improve that performance.

I thank the many in the community who made submissions, attended forums and raised their voices, especially the Headland Preservation Group.

The report made 21 recommendations. Of significance were recommendations:

  • #1 which recommended that the objects of the Act focusing on public access and amenity, and the protection, conservation and interpretation of environmental and heritage values, remain unchanged
  • #4 which recommended that the Harbour Trust sites remain with the Commonwealth
  • #6 which recommended that the Membership of the Harbour Trust’s Board be reshaped to reflect the skills and expertise for the future. Including with members with expertise in: law, finance, asset management, commercial leasing and indigenous management
  • #16 which recommended the Trust employ a Development Manager to work with the existing volunteer network and engage with Indigenous, military and veterans’ organisation to promote the heritage of the sites
  • #21(a) which recommended the Commonwealth provide urgent funding of $47 million for maintenance and upkeep of the sites, including for addressing a backlog of repairs and maintenance

I am pleased that the Minister is broadly supportive of the recommendations made, subject to detailed planning and consultation, and will offer more opportunities to consult. I look forward to working with the Minister, especially on any legislative changes that will be made to the Act.