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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1761

Senator MULVIHILL - I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the prolonged negotiations between the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government over the release of Australian Government-occupied Sydney Harbour foreshore land is due to the failure of the New South Wales Premier to accept the principle of leasehold land tenure? Has the New South Wales Government also refused to give an ironclad assurance that the 700-acre Bantry Bay land lot would not be used for other than national park purposes?

Senator MURPHY - I have had occasion to be supplied with some information on this subject matter and I can inform the Senate as follows: In January of this year Mr Lewis, the New South Wales Minister for Lands, wrote to Mr Uren seeking a discussion on the question of transferring defence lands to the State. Mr Uren replied that while he had a very definite interest in this matter, the question was properly one for discussion between the Premier and the Prime Minister. Mr Uren recommended to Mr Lewis that he ask his Premier to write to the Prime Minister. Premier Askin has never written to the Prime Minister on this matter. The Minister for Defence in March set up a committee to examine all the aspects relating to shifting defence personnel from one area to another. That committee should report before the end of this year.

Regarding the question of leasehold land tenure, the Australian Government's policy, as I understand it, is to release land to the States only if it were held for leasehold tenure. With regard to Bantry Bay, representations have been made to the State Government that Bantry Bay should be combined with other national park proposals. Representations to the State Minister have not been answered to the satisfaction of the residents; that is, they do not have firm assurances that the land will be used only for national parks. It is interesting to note that whilst the New South Wales Government wants the Australian Government to hand over some of its land, the New South Wales Government continues to subdivide and sell State-owned lands. The view of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development is that some of those State-owned lands should never be subdivided but should be retained as open space or park land. The Australian Government stands ready to discuss these matters with the State Government. I have no doubt that if Premier Askin writes to the Prime Minister on this matter he will receive a prompt reply.

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