Labor defends bill to turn Lot 490 into a National Park
MP WALT Secord has defended his bill in parliament this week to reserve Lot 490 Kingscliff as a regional park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act.
The Greens slammed Mr Secord and Labor for undermining a current land claim by the Aboriginal land council for the 26 hectares.
The council has previously won a land claim in Central NSW, and sold that land to developers.
Mr Secord said turning the shire's only remaining coastal Crown land into a recreation-use park would be the "only way" to protect it from developers.
"This bill puts a stake through the hearts of those who want to flog lot 490 to property developers," Mr Secord said in parliament yesterday. "This bill will protect lot 490 forever," he said.
Mr Secord told the Tweed Daily News today that unlike the crown reserve in West Tweed, which the state government has leased to the Gold Coast Airport for a runway extension, under his Bill, Lot 490 would have more protection.
"It would have to be a brave state government to repeal a national park," Mr Secord said.
But North Coast Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs and Crown Lands Jan Barham said the bill is premature and undermines a land claim by the Aboriginal Land Council.
"This significant and environmentally sensitive area is currently protected from development by Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council's land claim, which is one of thousands across the state waiting to be finalised.
"The legislation introduced by NSW Labor shows no regard for the importance of that claim," Ms Barham said.
She slammed the Labor government for its historical attempts to develop Lot 490.
"It was Labor's Tony Kelly who removed Tweed Shire Council as trustees of the Crown reserve in 2004 and then proposed leasing the site for a major development by Leighton Holdings, which thankfully fell through."
Ms Barham called on the government to hurry with resolving the land claim.
But Mr Secord said with 20,000 Aboriginal land claims before government that was unlikely.
"The government is not negotiating with Aboriginal communities," he said. "It is highly unlikely they will be resolved within the next 20 years."
He also said there are currently 25 national parks managed wholly by the Aboriginal community, or jointly with the government, including Uluru.
"You could put up a kiosk, but no property development, no high-rise, no casino, no caravan park, what it will remain is for is recreation use," Mr Secord said.
Save Lot 490 Campaigner Ron Cooper said the group supported the Bill, but wants the land claim resolved first.
Ultimately, Save Lot 490 wants the Tweed Shire Council to manage the land, Mr Cooper said.
"It doesn't need to stand as a national park," Mr Cooper said. "It was an area that was an old mining dump, it doesn't have the ecology.
"We wanted a public park, with picnic area and beach access, which would allow you to put in native vegetation, in response to population demand, which is 12,000 new residents at King's Forest and 3,000 at West Kingscliff."
Richmond MP Justine Elliot, who has previously supported the Save Lot 490 group, supported Mr Secord's bill.
"The greatest threat to Lot 490 remains the Nationals' plan to sell it off to developers," she said.
"I support the rights of local indigenous communities to make claims under the Land Rights Act.
"I'm calling on Geoff Provest and his Government to urgently make a determination regarding any land claims over Lot 490 rather than stalling as a means for the NSW Government to suddenly sell it off later directly to developers."
A Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council spokesperson was unavailable.