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Harbour Trust Secures Ongoing Entity Status

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4 min read
A message to the community from Joseph Carrozzi, Chair of the Harbour Trust...

I am very pleased to share that the future of the Harbour Trust is now guaranteed following the Royal Assent of Commonwealth legislation, which came into effect last week. 
 
By empowering the Harbour Trust to continue as an ongoing entity with responsibility for extraordinary sites on Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Amendment Act 2021 has delivered a key recommendation from the Independent Review of the Harbour Trust, conducted between October 2019 and January 2020. 
 
Critically, extending the life of the Harbour Trust in perpetuity means Australians now have certainty that our network of nationally significant sites will remain in public hands and be protected for their benefit into the future.  
 
Other amendments include:

  • The expertise required of appointed members of the Harbour Trust has been specified to ensure the agency is equipped with the skills and expertise required for the future.
  • The threshold for ministerial approval of Harbour Trust contracts has been increased from $1 million to $5 million to ensure the agency is able to work efficiently and with appropriate operational independence.
  • The maximum term of a lease or licence over Harbour Trust land has been substantially reduced, limiting the maximum length to no longer than 35 years. For a lease or licence of longer than 25 years the Harbour Trust is required to conduct public consultation, with the proposal being subject to disallowance by Parliament. The revised maximum lease or licence term of 35 years is less than the previous potentially uncapped term that was subject to Parliamentary disallowance. This amendment differs from the recommendations of the Independent Review, which recommended leases over 35 years be possible subject to Parliamentary disallowance, and leases between 25 and 35 years permitted on Ministerial approval.

The recommendations of the Independent Review reflected widespread community support for the work being done by Harbour Trust as well as its evolution from a transitional body to an ongoing body.

We are incredibly grateful for the faith invested in us by the public and now, with the certainty provided the amendment legislation, we will continue our efforts to protect and amplify the heritage values of our sites and leave a lasting legacy for all Australians. 
 
Please note: The details of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Amendment Act 2021 can be viewed online in the Federal Register of Legislation (see ‘amendments’). Further, the amendments will soon be incorporated into our foundational legislation – the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act 2001.

Correction (14/07/2021)

The above article has been corrected from the original version published on 30 June 2021. The original article stated that amendments contained within Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Amendment Act 2021 included that “the maximum term of a commercial lease or licence for appropriate Harbour Trust sites has increased from 25 years to 35 years with leases of longer than 25 years subject to a disallowance by Parliament”.

This should have been stated as:

The maximum term of a lease or licence over Harbour Trust land has been substantially reduced, limiting the maximum length to no longer than 35 years. For a lease or licence of longer than 25 years the Harbour Trust is required to conduct public consultation, with the proposal being subject to disallowance by Parliament. The revised maximum lease or licence term of 35 years is less than the previous potentially uncapped term that was subject to Parliamentary disallowance. This amendment differs from the recommendations of the Independent Review, which recommended leases over 35 years be possible subject to Parliamentary disallowance, and leases between 25 and 35 years permitted on Ministerial approval.

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