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Norfolk Island - transfer of crown lease to freehold title.



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KELVIN THOMSON Press Release from the Shadow Minister for Environment & Heritage - Member for Wills

NORFOLK ISLAND - TRANSFER OF CROWN LEASE TO FREEHOLD TITLE The Environment Minister David Kemp must intervene to ensure that the Howard Government’s plan to sell off Crown land on Norfolk Island does not jeopardise the island’s priceless landscape and natural heritage.

Crown leasehold land constitutes around one quarter of Norfolk Island. It has long played an essential role in protecting Norfolk Island’s natural and cultural heritage, because Crown lease land cannot be subdivided. A review by the Commonwealth Government in 1990 recommended the retention of Crown leasehold and the policy of no subdivision.”

While the Howard Government commissioned a report last year on the National Environmental Significance of the leasehold areas, it failed to ask the authors to consider landscape values, which it should have done, and it has failed to publicly release the report, which it should do.

The other unsatisfactory feature of the Howard Government’s process to date is that the Australian Heritage Commission has put on hold indefinitely consideration of nine nominations of Norfolk Island land, including Crown lease land, for the Register of the National Estate.

I am concerned that the proposal to sell off Crown land will: • Adversely affect the beautiful Norfolk Island coastline with residential subdivision and resort developments. • Impact on seabird life - Crown lease land includes nesting sites of the rare

Black Noddy Tem, and; • Threaten areas of Norfolk Island rainforest.

I am also concerned that the asking price for this sale of a public asset appears extraordinarily low. The transfer fee proposed is just 10% of the Unimproved Capital Value as at 1996, plus a $200 Government fee, so properties may be sold forever for as little as $2000 - $3000.

Norfolk Island has remained magnificent for centuries because its earliest inhabitants had the wit and wisdom to recognise its beauty and preserve it. In 1794 Superintendent King forbade the cutting of vegetation along the cliff tops, considering it essential to leave a shelterbelt around the coastline fringe.

In 1856 Captain Fremantle read a proclamation, which stated that the whole of the coastline was to be preserved as public property.

27 May 2002

The Howard Government needs to show the same kind of foresight as these men did, or Norfolk Island’s dramatic and beautiful coastline could be irreparably damaged.

For Further Information; Kelvin Thomson MP Phone: 9350 5777 Mobile: 0419 594 882

Gavan O’Neill Phone: 9350 5777 Mobile: 0417 118 146