THE Greens are calling for urgent reforms to the Crown Lands Act to require public agencies to assess the ecological and other values of public lands before selling them.
This follows Parliamentary Secretary Scot Macdonald’s statement on ABC radio this week in relation to the recent sale of part of the Mambo Wetlands at Salamander Bay.
Six hectares of the wetlands were sold in June for $250,000 to a property developer.
Greens MP and Planning spokesperson David Shoebridge told News Of The Area, “The sale of part of the Mambo Wetlands is evidence of system failure where ecologically valuable public land is sold for development with no assessment of its value. That has to end.”
Mr Shoebridge said, “Proper community consultation and assessment would have told the Government of the value of this land and seen 6 hectares of prime koala habitat protected in public ownership, rather than sold for just $250,000.”
“It should not be up to the community to run campaigns to save land that so obviously should be protected for its biodiversity value.”
“At the very minimum the sale of any publicly owned land should follow appropriate consultation with key agencies like OEH, but also with the community to produce a comprehensive understanding of the land’s ecological, social or other value,” he said.
The sale proceeded despite widespread, vocal opposition from local MP Kate Washington.
“Land of immense environmental and cultural value has been sold off by the NSW government for a pittance. To now learn that the sale was a ‘mistake’ is sickening,” said Ms Washington.
“There is no way that the government was not aware of the critical nature of the habitat. Our community did all that it could possibly do, to show the government that its decision to sell the land, was not right,” she said.
Robyn Williams of Port Stephens Greens said, “We call on the State Government and Port Stephens Council to ensure that the Mambo Wetlands land is permanently protected from development.”
“We welcome the Minister’s statement that other agencies should be consulted about ecological and other values before public land is sold.”
“Preservation of the remaining areas of prime habitat and connecting green corridors is an essential part protecting the Port Stephens koala population, and this reserve is an important part of that,” Ms Williams said.