Alpine resort costs may rise if exemption removed
UNDER the current State Government’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act, alpine resorts are exempt from settlement, but proposed moves to be put before parliament will have this exemption removed.
The Victorian Traditional Owner Settlement (TOS) Act 2010 provides for an out-ofcourt settlement of native title.
The Act allows the Victorian Government to recognise traditional owners and certain rights in Crown land.
In return for entering into a settlement, traditional owners must agree to withdraw any native title claim, pursuant to the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and not to make any future native title claims.
Major activities t hat affect Crown land (such as new gravel reserves declared by a council under a planning scheme) i nclude new commercial leases for more than 10 but less than 21 years (excluding major public works and public-private partnerships), earth resource or infrastructure authorisations.
But the Act also allows the State Government to recognise traditional owners and certain rights in Crown land.
Currently all alpine resorts such as Mt Buller and Mt Stirl i ng are exempt from t hese claims.
However, the Andrews Government and Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are making moves to repeal the 3A exemption which may cost lessees, in alpine areas such as Mt Buller, a lot more money and restrict future development.
Legislative proposals for the Act currently before parliament is driving this government to withdraw alpine resorts’ 3A exemption.
Victorian Snowsports Association president, Rob Anderson, believes removal of this exemption will lend lessees on green field or redeveloped sites to a payment of community benefits to traditional owners for the capital cost and possibly a percentage of ongoing payments of site rental.
Mr Anderson said the effect of this will be to curtail new developments in Alpine areas covered by government leases.
“Whether the site holder pays the lot or whether the resort management boards cover 50 per cent of the ongoing rental as a community benefit, it will mean an increased cost to all users.
“One of the most desperately needed infrastructure in the alps is the renewal and building of ski lifts.
“The costs of environmental risk assessments and now the TOS Act compliance regime is to make these improvements un-viable,” Mr Anderson said.
“It seems that the Andrews Government is hell bent on alpine users funding their social policy.”
The Victorian Snowsports Association is set to gain political backing from the opposition to stop the 3A exemption from being repealed.
“It has no argument on payment to traditional owners, but simply who pays. All Victorians should contribute, not just one section of society.”
A Land Use Activity Agreement (LUAA) applies only over public land as defined in section 3 of the Act.
This includes land under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978 (Vic), the Alpine Resorts Act 1983 (Vic), the National Parks Act 1975 (Vic), the Forests Act 1958 (Vic), the Land Act 1958 (Vic), and the Wildlife Act 1975 (Vic). A LUAA does not apply to land vested in a public authority or over freehold land.
The Victorian Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (the Act), as it stands, provides for an out-of-court settlement of native title.
COSTS UP: Lessees’ costs in alpine areas such as Mt Buller may rise if the government repeals a 3A exemption.