Alpine re­sort costs may rise if ex­emp­tion re­moved

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS - By PAM ZIERKMAHON­EY

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.

PHOTO: An­drew Rail­ton - Mt Buller

COSTS UP: Lessees’ costs in alpine ar­eas such as Mt Buller may rise if the govern­ment re­peals a 3A ex­emp­tion.

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