Crown Land Management (Section 78B Leases) Amendment Bill

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (16:09): I rise with some delight to speak on the Crown Land Management (Section 78B Leases) Amendment Bill 2019. I note the interest in the bill, whether people are involved in Crown land shacks or shacks in national parks. I certainly note the interest of Mr Geoff Gallasch in that regard, who has a Coorong shack in a national park. However, this bill today is about shacks on Crown land.

The issue for me, as it always has been since I have represented Milang, which has 73 of these shacks, is that the politics of envy has prevailed. Sadly, it still prevails today within the ranks of the Labor Party. They will not let some people have the ability to have some tenure with their shacks and to contribute to communities, and not just the regional communities where these shacks are, as they are in Hammond and surrounding regional electorates in the state, but also their home communities. Many of these people come from communities here in the city of Adelaide; some may have formerly voted Labor.

Having met with people, like the Milang shack owners group, I am not sure that too many are voting Labor at the moment because they have had to put up with the fact that they have only had lifetime tenure. So, if the person with the name on the lease dies, the shack has to be pulled down. That is one of the saddest things about what has happened down at Milang, where I believe there are now 73 shacks in place. This is an area that is significantly impacted by this legislation.

I congratulate the minister on bringing this issue forward. It is a commitment that those of us with shacks in our areas have lobbied hard to get on the table. The Hon. Michelle Lensink in the other place was heavily involved previously. I absolutely congratulate minister Speirs, the current minister, on his resolve in bringing this matter forward. This issue is technical, it is not a simple process and it is going to get more interesting when we get to the national park legislation, especially where some shacks by some decree also come under native title.

I have had many discussions about native title, including the ridiculous situation at Currency Creek, where there is a town square in the middle of four property owners' land. They basically just put a pole in the middle and share the land, and they are supposed to keep road access. It is something I have been campaigning to sort through. It is difficult, but hopefully we can get a result there.

What annoys me with this issue is that the Labor Party are so fixated on anyone having success. They look at the success of someone with a $5,000 tin shed as their shack or a $20,000 shack at Milang. They think that it is terrible to have that option, to have that shack as a holiday place, as somewhere to go and enjoy, as I know many people do, whether in a national park or, as we are debating here today, on Crown land.

I want to acknowledge the Milang Shack Owners Association and Keith Turner, who is the president of that group. I also want to acknowledge World War II veteran Bob Honor (he is not with us anymore), who fought for years. I used to go down and meet with Bob and his wife, Zeta, on many occasions at their beautiful little shack at Milang. We would have long discussions about how we could sort through this process and get the right outcome for people who, in the case of these shacks at Milang, just want to have a very small piece of paradise that they can keep in their family.

In regard to shacks across the board, they are scattered along the South Australian coastline from Glenelg River in the South-East, as the member for Mount Gambier outlined, to Smoky Bay on the West Coast. The member for Flinders gave a rendition of the shacks over there. A lot of these shack precincts started out as places where farming families spent their summers to rest and enjoy the spectacular natural environment. Where the opportunity has existed, many shacks have been retained in families for generations. These families have committed to caring for coastal shacks and, in the process, have contributed to the wider environmental wellbeing of our beaches and rivers by providing healthy lifestyle opportunities and assisting our tourism sector.

During the previous government's 16-year tenure from 2002 to 2018, family shacks—for instance, those similar to the ones at Milang that were located on Crown land—were subject to life-tenure leases and, upon the death of the last named lessee, the shack was required to be demolished and the land returned to the government. Consequently, many shack lessees allowed their shacks to fall into a state of disrepair because there was no incentive to maintain or invest in them.

Investing in these shacks is something that could really brighten up some of these shack areas. People are doing a great job now, but if there were the opportunity for tenure and the appropriate protocols were put in place around ownership, they could spend money on their shacks and make them even more attractive.

It is ridiculous that this has not been exercised in the past. Instead, as the last named lessee on a licence passes away, the order goes out and the shack disappears. Quite frankly, it is a disgrace. I know of a transportable shack that was put in at Milang so that, if that dark day came, they would have to move it out. I would love to go there when this legislation passes—as I hope it does through both houses—and put in some secure steel and concrete footings so that shack does not have to move in the future.

As has been stated before, the current Marshall Liberal government from opposition made election commitments to retain shacks as part of vibrant holiday communities with a view to realising the benefits to both shack owners and the broader community. This commitment was made to provide shack lessees and their families with certainty of tenure by expanding the eligibility to maintain a lease in exchange for upgrading the shack to meet contemporary safety, amenity and environmental standards.

The commitment included investigating the leasehold of shacks on Crown land and renewable tenure options for shacks located in national parks. In that regard, on 4 April 2018, shortly after the election, the Minister for Environment and Water announced a moratorium on the practice of automatically terminating leases upon the death of the last named lessee, and placed all pending revaluation of shack sites on hold.

This bill puts in place life tenure leases for holiday accommodation purposes. As a bit of history around the bill, shack leases on Crown land were issued under section 78B of the Crown Lands Act 1929. In 2010, the Crown Land Management Act 2009 replaced the Crown Lands Act 1929 and included a transitional provision which prevents the holder of a section 78B lease from being granted a further interest at the site, i.e., better tenure whether freehold or term tenure.

This amendment bill removes the transitional provision, the legal barrier, which currently prevents shack lessees from applying for longer tenure. It also sets out a process where they may seek to surrender their existing lease in return for purchasing the land at market value or entering into a term Crown lease. The lessee may seek this for themselves or nominate another person to purchase or lease the Crown land.

Another factor of this amendment bill is that it does not have a guarantee that a lessee will be granted improved tenure but it creates a pathway that will allow them to be considered for better tenure. As I indicated earlier in the debate, this current amendment bill does not impact shack leases within national parks. A separate process will be undertaken regarding relevant park management plans and collaboration with the board in cases where parks are or will be co-managed, and there will be a three-month consultation period.

This amendment bill also addresses an ongoing issue associated with the management of Crown land more broadly, creating a provision that allows for the minister to require the removal of unauthorised fixtures on Crown land. The minister will be able to determine if a fixture is unauthorised if it is in place without legal authority or excuse; for example, if the lessee did not obtain the lease or licence that granted permission for the erection of their structure.

As far as the policy process is concerned, the election commitment stated that a lessee will be required to upgrade their shack to meet contemporary safety, amenity and environmental standards before they are assessed for improved tenure at their shack site. That process will rely on existing regulatory regimes and standards and, in circumstances where development approval is required, it will rely on existing processes that will provide consistency and reduce duplication in processes.

A preliminary discussion paper was prepared by the government and put out for public consultation in early June this year for approximately five weeks. Approximately 250 survey responses were received, which is significant. This paper detailed the regulatory and policy considerations associated with implementing the Retaining Shacks election commitment. I must commend the minister for getting his department organised. The Department for Environment and Water performed extensive face-to-face consultation in regions across South Australia where the shacks are located, and they met with representatives of the shack lessees, local councils, traditional owners and engaged with Friends of Parks groups, in addition to consulting with relevant regulatory authorities.

As indicated, the surrender of a life tenure lease will be on the terms determined by the minister and a demonstrated ability to meet the identified contemporary safety standards will determine a successful surrender, but the relevant issues at each site will differ depending on the circumstances. It is important to note that shack lessees are not obliged to upgrade their shacks as a result of this process.

Rather, they will elect—they will have the freedom of choice from this Marshall Liberal government—either to participate or to remain on their current section 78B lease. The minister will continue to be bound by the objects and principles of the Crown Land Management Act 2009, including ensuring that all decisions are made with consideration to triple bottom line outcomes—social, economic and environmental—as well as observing the principles of ecologically sustainable land management.

The first of the 73 shacks at Milan was established in 1947, so post war. They have been there for decades, apart from the ones that sadly had been taken away under the previous regime, until the minister quite wisely put that moratorium in place so that people could live with some security until we get this legislation through the houses. With respect to these shacks at Milang, in the past there have been very positive talks with the local government sector. The Alexandrina Council was quite proactive about working to get a good outcome, because the council can see what these shacks do for the local community.

You can go down to Milang any time of the year, but obviously the warmer months always bring a crowd. You can go down there in the middle of winter and there are people at the shacks and there are people in the caravan park, and these people are vital to keep this lakeside community as it is on Lake Alexandrina, progressive and successful, to keep people touring around that area down towards Clayton, around to Goolwa, and back to Langhorne Creek to the wineries and just enjoy a beautiful part of Hammond. I commend the Alexandrina Council for its proactive work.

In regard to other shacks that are on Crown land in my electorate, there is one at Pompoota in the Mid Murray Council. At Punyelroo in the Mid Murray—which is a great skiing spot on the river; not that I have been up on skis for a while—there is one. There is also one in Punyelroo.

The Hon. V.A. Chapman interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: Yes; the Deputy Premier is scaring me now. There is one at Scrubby Flat there in the Mid Murray Council area that is on Crown land, and at Walker Flat South there is one on Crown land.

I think this legislation is timely. It was only ever going to happen under a Liberal government, and I do not think that anyone should delay this process, and I say that sincerely. People who have shacks in my electorate have been coming to me. To be fair, most of them do not even vote for me, but that does not matter. I want to get the right outcome. They are not voting because they do not like me: it is because they do not live in my electorate. They are not registered at Milang.

An honourable member: They do like you.

Mr PEDERICK: They do like me, the minister responds, and I felt that. I felt the love when I have gone to the meetings of the Milang Shack Owners Association and explained to them, over far too long, about the outcomes we want to get for them so that they can have tenure, so that we can have vibrant communities on these Crown land sites and get a lot better outcome. There still will be access in front of these shacks for the public to get down to the lake. That is a no-brainer. That is going to happen every day of the week.

People who are against this idea need to have a good, hard look at what is going on here. We can get a far better outcome where we have shacks which are maintained and upgraded in a fantastic way and which are brought back to the glory days of 50 years ago when these shacks were all brightly painted and looked absolutely fantastic.

They still do, but sadly, because of the lack of tenure, some people have not spent the money to give the absolute love they can to these shacks to get them in a really smart condition. There will need to be some money involved here, obviously, getting shacks up to regulatory standards. There will obviously be fire control standards and a whole range of things. As I said in regard to that, in years gone by, especially in regard to the Milang shacks, the Alexandrina Council has been very proactive and has had proactive discussions with the shack owners group so that they can get the right outcome.

I commend this legislation. I wish its speedy passage through this house and the other place. I want people who know the regions, who know where these shacks are, to appreciate the beauty of these spots, including Milang in my electorate, including down at Glenelg River, including at Smoky Bay, which is a fantastic spot on the West Coast of South Australia in the member for Flinders' electorate, and appreciate what these shacks are.

There is no problem with people having multimillion-dollar shacks, no problem at all, but they are certainly not that. As I indicated, some of these shacks, especially in the national parks, which we are not talking about here today, might be worth a few thousand dollars, and some would be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Let's do the right thing, let's commit to this legislation, let's give people certainty and let's have that certainty go through to the future.