A review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has called for new legislation to ensure historic harbour sites such as Cockatoo Island remain in public hands and accessible to future generations.
Commissioned by the Federal Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley the review report, Independent Review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, recommends historic former defence sites remain under Commonwealth protection by extinguishing current requirements to dissolve the Trust on or after 2033.
“The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act (2001) contemplates the sites moving to State ownership but the very clear message from the community is that they should be permanently protected by the Commonwealth as national treasures,” Ms Ley said.
“I intend to begin consultation on draft legislation to remove those provisions of the Act that mandate the repeal of the Trust and will enshrine its ongoing role,” she said.
“I am also immediately unlocking an initial $9 million in funding for maintenance and restoration work at Trust sites.”
Ms Ley said the review included 21 recommendations covering the preservation of sites, their strategic role in Sydney’s future, leasing arrangements and ways to maximise public access.
She said the review, conducted by former Secretary of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Carolyn McNally and former Executive Director of Infrastructure NSW, Erin Flaherty, was the most detailed look at the Trust and its unique portfolio of historic assets ever undertaken.
“The Harbour Trust manages sites of incredible cultural and historical significance from Cockatoo Island to Headland Park, Macquarie Lightstation and North Head, attracting 1.8 million visitors each year,” Ms Ley said.
She said the review also recommended the Trust build closer ties with NSW to ensure sites were part of a ‘whole of Sydney Harbour strategy’; refresh the vision and plan for Cockatoo Island and North Head; obtain urgent maintenance funding; greater recognition of indigenous sites; improved public and volunteer engagement and consultation; and clearer guidelines and safeguards related to leasing arrangements.
The reviewers’ 168-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.