Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Crown Lands Management Act 2009.
Crown Land Management (Life Lease Sites) Amendment Bill
Introduction and First Reading
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Crown Lands Management Act 2009. Read a first time.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
Honourable members may think this bill is very familiar when (I am sure) they read it in great detail, as they are wont to do. It would be familiar because it has been in this place twice before, firstly in 2005, in a similar form, moved by my colleague the Hon. David Ridgway, and secondly in 2012. So, time flies when you are having fun, as they say. This parliament has not dealt with a shacks bill for several years and so I have reintroduced it to reaffirm the Liberal Party's longstanding commitment to shacks in South Australia.
Because I have made extensive speeches on these bills before, I will refer the avid 10 readers of the Legislative Council Hansard to my previous speech on this particular one, which was on 5 February 2012. I did the second reading there and went into it in some detail. There were further second readings on 16 October 2013, and it was passed in November 2013. However, I will briefly speak to the bill again to outline some of the details.
The history of shacks in South Australia is that it was the last Liberal government that undertook an extensive program of freeholding in the 1990s, and the figure that is used is in the order of some 3,000 sites and structures. Most of those shacks have been substantially renovated or removed, etc. This matter deals with those which were on crown land and were probably the more difficult ones to freehold at that stage. Some of them, I think, missed the bell in terms of the changing of the guard within the government. When the Labor Party took over, the policy of removing shacks was resumed.
The ones that are on crown land are in various states. There is no incentive for the people who have those leases to improve them or maintain them. Some of them are getting very old—well over 80 years old—and certainly need some upgrades. When the current tenure holders pass on, then the tenure reverts to the Crown and the shack has to be pulled down at the expense of the family. There are a number of locations where the crown land sites exist. They include Fisherman Bay, Lucky Bay on Eyre Peninsula, Glenelg River in the South-East, Milang on Lake Alexandrina, Smoky Bay at Ceduna, and there are a couple of sites on Kangaroo Island as well.
There may well be others. There seems to be a range of little shacks here and there. Interestingly, there used to be shacks all across the coast. We have got a problem at West Beach at the moment with asbestos being exposed when there are storms and that is a legacy of some of those old shacks that we used to have there. There are also some at Hallett Cove and there are probably other locations along the metropolitan coast. Pictures from the 1940s and that sort of era will show that there were an extensive number of shacks before the development and private tenure took over.
Shacks have a great tradition in Australia, generally, particularly around the January and Christmas holiday times. Lots of families enjoy those shacks. There are some 300 that are related to this crown lands issue. A number of these ones are small. Some do not have toilets or showers. There are two sites that are fairly well looked after, those at Glenelg River and those at Milang, where the councils have been quite involved in providing amenity to those areas. The councils have been very supportive of this particular proposal within the legislation, which would enable them to take care and control of those sites to manage them.
This particular legislation inserts a new section 44A into the Crown Land Management Act, and what would take place is that a head lease would be granted from the state government to participating councils for at least 99 years. Councils would appoint shack management committees, which would determine what will take place at each site. Each shack would be audited for what services exist at the present and to ensure that they will be upgraded to meet contemporary standards. There would then be subletting arrangements between councils and lessees, and those conditions are outlined in the legislation.
I think it is worth repeating some of the comments that have been made by members over the years, Labor members, and to repeat a speech from then environment minister John Hill on 5 May 2005, responding to Mitch Williams, the member for MacKillop's bill. He said that the government's long-term opposition goes back to the Dunstan era. There are certainly comments on the record from ministers from that time opposing shacks in general. The Hon. John Hill said the following:
In the mid to late 1970s, the then Dunstan government initiated a policy to remove all the shacks from along our coast, whether it was a river or a beachfront. The basis of that policy was that that coastal land, that river land, should be in the public domain. The government had that as a policy position and, I understand, gave a time frame to shack holders to remove their shacks in the late 1980s …
We certainly have had opposition from various government members on the record as well. Minister Gago, in this place, talked in 2005 about wholesale, irreversible excavation of cliff faces and loss of vegetation and narrow and rickety boardwalks, which is all spurious nonsense that we expect from this government.
Chloe Fox, who was the acting minister at the time, in an interview with The Border Watch, in reference to Glenelg River shacks said that most of the shacks were subject to seasonal flooding, which is actually quite a nonsense because there had only been three episodes in about 50 years. At the time of the most recent iteration of this bill, five years ago, the government members' criticism was that waterfront land is an important public asset to be enjoyed by everyone.
I agree with that particular statement, but the fact is that a lot of the shack sites do not exclude anybody from that waterfront and the people who have shack leases maintain the area, and in many instances make sure that it is kept free of weeds and waste and they look after it because of the ownership of it. Even the Hon. R.P. Wortley, our esteemed President, said that, 'Ms Lensink wants to hand out prime chunks of crown land to benefit a select few.' I think we can tell from the comments of Labor members that there is probably a bit of envy going on.
Of course, what they have forgotten is that shacks were often established as a cheap form of holiday accommodation for many working people. Indeed, there were unions in certain parts of Australia who set up shack sites because they recognised the need for families to have cheap accommodation. That particular aspect of our heritage and our history has been completely neglected by this government.
We had a rally several years ago in favour of shacks and well over 100 people came from all over regional South Australia to attend that rally. I think it is timely that this bill be reintroduced to demonstrate the Liberal Party's commitment to this particular matter for those who are on crown land.
It is our intention, if we were to form government next year, to:
investigate freeholding for shacks on crown land;
provide a renewable tenure option for shacks where that is not a possibility;
require that all shacks be upgraded to meet modern safety, amenity and environmental standards;
establish partnerships where regions are supportive of their shack precincts;
strengthen links between shack lessees, local rangers and friends of park groups; and
investigate tourism opportunities, as certainly takes place in Victoria.
If you go across the border at the Glenelg River to Nelson, the Victorian government has management committees and a very well established program to support shacks in that particular state, which is a sad comparator to what takes place in South Australia. With those comments, I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M. Gazzola.