NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is concerned over a recent legal decision regarding Crown Lands.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is concerned over a recent legal decision regarding Crown Lands. Trevor Veale

Crown Land decision could see community groups shut up shop

AN "UNHOLY alliance" in the NSW Upper House is threatening the future of marine rescue and surf lifesaving clubs across the North Coast, Premier Barry O'Farrell has told state parliament.

Debate has raged over a recent legal decision which threatened the viability of thousands of community and business groups operating under secondary tenures on Crown Land.

In response, the NSW Government proposed a minor administrative change to the Crown Land Act which ensures the organisations are considered "legally valid" and their tenure, can't be challenged.

Until the bill is amended, community groups and businesses operating on Crown Land reserves at Banora Point, Lennox Head, Wooli, Grafton, Iluka, Ballina, Yamba, Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour and Bellingen could be forced to "shut up shop" until a review has been completed - a process which the Premier warned, could take up to three years.

Along with marine rescue and surf-lifesaving clubs, the reviews could impact churches, CWA, Scouts and Girl Guide Halls, rifle clubs, SES and rural fire services.

Under the proposed changes, the act will be extended to existing secondary interests where they are unlikely to cause material harm and so long as they do not impact previous court decisions or Aboriginal Land Rights claims.

Mr O'Farrell said the decision to fix the glitch was sensible and "should be above politics".

The bill, which was before the Upper House on Wednesday night, was expected to be challenged by members of Greens and Labor parties.



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