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Shack leases

Crown Land Management (Section 78B Leases) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (12:54): I rise to make a contribution to the Crown Land Management (Section 78B Leases) Amendment Bill 2019. I give it my wholehearted support, as I represent an area that has at least two settlements that have shack leases that will be caught up and encompassed by this proposed legislation.

Shacks have been part of South Australian life for more than 100 years, providing rest and relaxation for families and friends. They have also provided a boost to our regional economies. The South Australian government is committed to creating new opportunities for owners to retain shacks on Crown land and in national parks, which will benefit shack owners, regional economies and the broader community.

As other members have indicated, shacks are scattered across the South Australian coastline, from the Glenelg River, at the very bottom of the South-East of South Australia, to Smoky Bay on the West Coast. In fact, they spread farther than that: there are also shacks all the way out to Fowlers Bay. Historically, local farming families have visited their closest beach, established shacks and spent their summer holidays there. Those shack precincts started out as places where these farming families would spend their summers, particularly after harvest and over the Christmas and new year period before the children went back to school, to rest and enjoy the spectacular natural environment.

I have a theory about how shacks were established at certain sites, and that is that the farming families on Eyre Peninsula and right around country South Australia identified their closest beach as the place to spend their summer holidays. With our coastline being much indented with gulfs and islands and with the South-East, there was plenty of opportunity for farming families to go to the beach, to go to the coast, and have their summer holidays. If you will bear with me, I will try to explain how my theory works.

In the Far West of the state, the farming families established shacks at Fowlers Bay. In the Wirrulla area, they went to Smoky Bay. The Poochera farmers went to Haslam. Those on central Eyre Peninsula at Wudinna, Minnipa and Warramboo invariably headed to Venus Bay, which was a hive of activity over that summer period. They went there to holiday but also to fish and catch up with all the people they also socialised with throughout the year.

The Lock families often went to Dutton Bay or Coffin Bay and the bottom end, too, went to Dutton Bay and Coffin Bay. Many of the Cummins farming families had shacks at Coffin Bay, and I will get to that a bit later because we were one of those families. Louth Bay was established just north of Port Lincoln. Incidentally, in the early days a lot of these destinations also served as drop-off and pick-up points for the ketches that serviced our coastal communities. The Ungarra farmers went into Tumby Bay or, if they were looking for a quieter time, off to Port Neill.

The Cleve farming families went to Arno Bay, and the Kimba farming families holidayed in Lucky Bay, which is just north of Cowell. There are over 100 shacks at Lucky Bay; in fact, I think there are 113, 117 or thereabouts, but I stand to be corrected on that. Those shacks, even though they are under a lease arrangement, are not caught up in this legislation because the shacks at Lucky Bay are under a headlease with the local council, the District Council of Franklin Harbour. I know that there are negotiations separate to this about extending the tenure of those shacks from 2026 to at least life tenure or maybe beyond.

I think my theory stacks up: the closest beach was the best destination to build a shack. The reason is that it was easy for the father of the family—and I say that with all due respect—the farmer in the family to go home every third day and check the sheep. It was important that the family farm was within striking distance of where the family was holidaying. As I have made clear, many shacks have been retained in these families for generations. The families have committed to caring for coastal shacks and, in the process, have contributed to the wider environmental wellbeing of our beaches—and our rivers, let’s not forget that—provided healthy lifestyle opportunities and assisted our tourism sector. At this stage, I seek leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 12:59 to 14:00.

Adjourned debate on second reading (resumed on motion).

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:48): Prior to the break, I was waxing lyrical about who went where on Eyre Peninsula for their summer holidays. I was generalising, of course, but it is a very strong theme that revolves through country South Australia, that of a family holiday at the shack.

Before I speak to the bill proper, I want to talk about my wonderful experience as a child enjoying our shack at Coffin Bay. My grandfather on my mother’s side actually built the shack with a friend immediately post-World War II out of shell grit mixed with concrete—not much concrete, I think—and second-hand corrugated iron. Of course, immediately following the war, materials were hard to get. Anyway, they managed and built one big square room, which was subdivided by cupboards and curtains.

At that stage, the block apparently belonged to my grandmother’s uncle Wilf Roediger. He called it his block, but I do not think there were any boundaries in place at that stage. That did not happen until our shack and most of the others in Coffin Bay were able to be freeholded in the 1990s, which was a significant move. We want to give others that same opportunity now.

I remember our excitement, as three young boys heading off to Coffins for our summer holidays. Because we shared the shack with other families, we had just 10 days available to us over that Christmas/new year to end of January break, so we wanted to make the most of it. My dad did not come down much. Mostly it was mum and the boys, so credit to her for managing us through our period of growing up. We learnt to swim and row rowboats and fish. As we got older, we must have had a good harvest one year because dad turned up with a seagull motor, which we put on the back of our 10-foot bonwood dinghy. We had a wonderful time and we learnt a lot of life skills there at the shack.

I even know a couple who met on the jetty at Coffin Bay and, as a result of that meeting, went on to marry and live happily ever after. All sorts of things can happen during a summer holiday at a shack. In more recent years, my wife and I have managed to acquire our own shack at Coffin Bay with a view to giving our kids and even our grandchildren the same opportunity.

A number of shacks will potentially be impacted by this legislation. In the electorate of Flinders, still at Coffin Bay, there is one shack that sits on Crown land. At Kellidie Bay, there are 13 shacks sitting on Crown land. Also at Kellidie Bay, but within a national park or the Kellidie Conservation Park, there are a further two shacks. There are areas with a large number of shacks: Milang has 73 on Crown land and Fisherman Bay has 30 on Crown land. The Coorong National Park, which is a different situation again, has 62 shacks on Crown land. There are 41 at Glenelg River and 20 in Innes National Park, in the seat of Narungga. There are many other district councils with smaller numbers. What we want to do is significantly improve the opportunity for long-term tenure for those shack owners.

In March 2018, the South Australian government made a commitment to create new opportunities for families to retain shacks on Crown land and in national parks. That commitment included providing certainty of tenure to families, who have one of these leases, by expanding the eligibility to maintain the lease in return for them upgrading the shack to meet contemporary safety, amenity and environmental standards.

There is responsibility on the shack owners to meet those standards before there is approval or progression of the tenure. The commitment also included investigating more freeholding of shacks on Crown land and also providing renewable tenure options to shacks located within national parks. It is a slightly different situation, but hopefully we can put all that on the table. The commitment also includes seeking fair valuation advice for the sale of shack sites and strengthening links between local rangers, volunteer groups and other shack owners and lessees.

It applies to shacks located on Crown land and in national parks that are on life tenure or fixed-term tenure leases where there is no existing arrangement for longer tenure at those sites. This legislation will not apply to outstanding matters from previous freeholding deeds and land management agreements and does not apply retrospectively to leases that have already been terminated or to shacks that have been demolished. That certainly has occurred in a number of settlements. Smoky Bay is one that I can think of.

In order to determine a practical way forward, the department has undertaken a comprehensive review of the legislation, regulations, policies, plans, standards and commitments governing shacks on Crown land and shacks in national parks, native title, co-management, contemporary safety, amenity, environmental standards and planning and development. I mentioned Smoky Bay earlier. I should remind the house that there are 11 shacks at Smoky Bay still on Crown land. Others have been held freehold in the past, but 11 still exist on Crown land.

The current legislation that governs shacks on Crown land and park management plans for national parks do not allow for any of these changes to existing shack tenure. These legal barriers must be addressed to allow leases to be converted to another tenure, which is fundamental for the Retaining Shacks commitment that the Marshall Liberal government gave in the lead-up to the last election. Hence, we are here debating the legislation.

There are also park management plans involved. Current park management plans for Coorong National Park, Innes National Park, Kellidie Bay Conservation Park on Eyre Peninsula and Little Dip Conservation Park do not envisage the retention of shacks within those parks. The government will seek to amend the park management plans for these parks to enable shacks to remain, subject to, as I said earlier, meeting the regulatory requirements and contemporary standards.

The regulatory requirements need to be complied with by certain parties in order to secure longer tenure for shacks on Crown land, and contemporary safety, amenity and environmental standards also need to be met. Other things to be considered include planning and development, building standards, wastewater management, natural hazards (including coastal flooding and erosion, riverine flooding and bushfire) and the amenity itself. Public access to the waterfront needs to remain.

Many shacks are located within the buffer zone of a 30 to 50-metre wide strip of Crown land and might already impact on public access. Upgrading the shacks, including any associated infrastructure, must not duly restrict or further restrict public access to or along the adjacent waterfront. There will be environmental and cultural heritage protection, and the government also recognises that local councils will have some responsibilities here, particularly in relation to development applications and enforcing compliance. When the legal barriers are addressed, shack sites and shacks can then be assessed for their suitability for longer tenure, freeholding or for a transferable term lease. This is a really exciting piece of legislation and it will mean a lot to many of my constituents.

In relation to Little Dip, Kellidie Bay and Cape Gantheaume conservation parks, there are no current arrangements for these parks to be co-managed. Given the low numbers of shack leases in these parks—as I said, in Kellidie Bay there are just two—an expression of interest will be sought from shack owners to determine whether or not they wish to be assessed for longer tenure. If any lessee wishes to be assessed and there are no other barriers to granting longer tenure over the shack site, the department will initiate the process to amend the relevant park management plans.

My congratulations go to the Minister for Environment and also his department on getting this legislation to the House of Assembly. I am disappointed that the opposition have chosen not to support this, but we will carry on regardless. It has been a long-term commitment of the Marshall-led opposition and then the Marshall government. It would be wonderful to think that we could give an opportunity to all those people who still own and enjoy shacks in some beautiful parts of South Australia to have some secure tenure to go forward with. It will encourage investment into those properties and it will also allow either the sale or transfer to other family members as time rolls on. I commend the bill to the house.

 

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