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Speech: Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Amendment Bill 2021

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 17 Jun 2021

I rise to briefly speak on the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Amendment Bill 2021. The bill will implement various recommendations of the review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust conducted in 2019. The central finding of the review was that the trust should become an ongoing entity, retaining responsibility for the sites. This bill does give effect to this.

Let's start at first principles here. The lands around Sydney Harbour under the care and oversight of the trust are public lands which should be fully accessible to the people of Sydney and those who live around the country. They are lands with many thousands of years of First Nations custodianship and care.

For so many thousands of migrants to Australia, the harbour foreshore is the first thing that they see when their flight descends to land at Kingsford Smith airport. Indeed, that's the first thing that I saw when my flight landed at Kingsford Smith airport in 1992. Of course, the lands have unmatched natural beauty and historical significance. There's no room here for privatisation and sell-offs of priceless public land. The community, over the decades, has fought hard against privatisation and for the preservation of the environment and heritage, especially First Nations cultural heritage, around the harbour.

With that in mind, I raise my concerns about the trust's recently published draft concept vision for Cockatoo Island. While there's certainly scope for rethinking how Cockatoo Island can best be revitalised and used for the future, any move towards activities such as new retail precincts and hotels must be seriously interrogated and carefully considered. We must reject privatisation by stealth.

I understand this bill's drafting was done in consultation with key community and advocacy organisations, including the Headland Preservation Group, and constructive work was completed to ensure that the group's concerns were met, particularly with regard to the leasing provisions. Parliamentary oversight will be retained for longer term leases, and leases will be completely capped at 35 years. The Greens support the bill.

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