Balmoral Beach Aboriginal land claim: Chunk of ‘prestigious’ and affluent Sydney suburb worth $100m is claimed by an Indigenous group
A Sydney council has voted unanimously to oppose a Native Title Land Claim on one of the city’s favourite family beaches and prime pieces of real estate.
In a closed session on Tuesday night Mosman Council in the city’s north committed itself to opposing the claim by Sydney’s Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council for the Lawry Plunkett Reserve situated on Balmoral Beach.
The reserve is 4000sq/m area of parkland between between Botanic Road and Plunkett Road sitting just off of the Esplanade and is a favourite spot for walks and picnics by locals and tourists.
Balmoral Beach is widely considered to be one of Sydney’s best family beaches featuring a strip of vibrant cafes and restaurants surrounded by some of the city’s most ‘prestigious’ real estate.
The 4000sq/m area of parkland between Botanic Road and Plunkett Road sits just off of the Esplanade at Balmoral, on Sydney’s lower north shore
A Sydney council is set to debate a confidential claim on a $100million block of land at Balmoral Beach, without anyone from the public in attendance
Following the meeting on Tuesday night former Mosman deputy mayor, who was deposed from that position at the meeting, Roy Bendall spoke to Sydney radio station 2GB.
Councillor Bendall said the claim for the land was made under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1983, which allows Land Councils to claim ‘unused Crown land’.
‘We are amazed this is even subject to a claim,’ Councillor Bendall said as council had been tending the reserve for over a 100 years and it was ‘highly used’ for public recreation and had bush care groups tending to it.
He said council voted not just to ‘strongly’ oppose the claim but to ‘use all our resources possible to try to fight this claim’.
The claim dates from 2009 but has only now entered the assessment phase when Council is notified and only have a month to respond.
Councillor Bendall said the responsible NSW government departments also decreed that it remain classified up until about 30 minutes before the council meeting.
‘We had to agree not to put in the media, not put it to the public not tell the residents who are next to the claim that this was happening,’ Councillor Bendall said.
‘We spent a week trying to find out what was the basis of the legal confidentiality.’
Coucillor Bendall said there were worrying precedents for the reserve because of what has happened in other local government areas ‘especially down in the Northern Beaches with Lizard Rock and in the Waverton Bowling Club at our neighbours in North Sydney.
‘One a claim is made and freehold title is given to the claimants then Council is in a terrible position where we are no longer are the manager of the Crown land,’ he said.
‘Although we have zoning control then it only requires an application to the department of zoning to do something else with the land,’ he said.
There are reportedly 40,000 native title land claims in NSW.
Former Prime Minister and member for Warringah Tony Abbott told 2GB he fears similar claims could increase if the Voice referendum is successful.
‘I’m a little reluctant to comment on a land claim that I know nothing about,’ Mr Abbott said.
‘Except to say that there is nothing happening in this space that’s not likely to accelerate and intensify should the Voice be established.’
Balmoral Beach (pictured) is widely considered to be one of Sydney’s best family beaches featuring a strip of vibrant cafes and restaurants surrounded by ‘prestigious’ real estate
Mosman Council, on Sydney’s lower North Shore, will discuss the confidential matter behind closed doors on Tuesday night, with the 4000sq/km area of parkland between Botanic Road and Plunkett Road sitting just off of the Esplanade
Tonight’s debate topic can be found on the 176th page of the 177 page agenda for the ordinary council meeting.
‘The Manager Governance recommends that the meeting be closed to the press and public for that part necessary to consider information concerning the nature and location of a place or an item of Aboriginal significance on community land,’ the agenda reads.
‘It is recommended that it be dealt with in closed session in the Confidential Reports section of the general order of business and Council resolve accordingly.’
Mosman Council and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council have been contacted for comment.
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