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Background

The formation of the Harbour Trust followed years of lobbying by community groups adamant that extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour should be maintained as public spaces and kept safe from redevelopment.

These groups, collectively known as the Defenders of Sydney Harbour Foreshores, included Friends of Cockatoo Island, the Headland Preservation Group and Foreshore 2000 Woolwich.

In September 1998, the Commonwealth Government announced the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (Harbour Trust) – a statutory agency tasked with rehabilitating former Defence and other Commonwealth lands around Sydney Harbour, conserving their natural and built heritage, and returning them to the people of Australia. These lands had been hidden away from public view for many years, left derelict, run-down and in some cases contaminated.

In his speech announcing the Harbour Trust, the Hon. John Howard, then Prime Minister of Australia, described Sydney Harbour as “…probably the world’s greatest harbour. It is one of the great natural beauty spots of our nation. It is the cradle of European settlement in Australia and it is one of those parts of our country which gives immense pride and immense pleasure, not only to the residents of Sydney, but also to all Australians because it wins such wide acclaim around the world.”

The Harbour Trust operated on an interim basis until September 2001 when its foundational legislation – the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act 2001 (SHFT Act) – took effect. The Harbour Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees and reports to the Minister for the Environment (Cth). Today, we protect and manage a network of unique places in line with our Comprehensive Plan and suite of Management Plans.

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"[Sydney Harbour] is one of the great natural beauty spots of our nation." – John Howard

Our places on Sydney Harbour

The Harbour Trust operated on an interim basis until September 2001, when its foundational legislation – the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Act 2001 (SHFT Act) – took effect. The Harbour Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees and reports to the Minister for the Environment. Today, we protect and manage a network of unique places in line with our Comprehensive Plan and suite of Management Plans (See: Planning)

What we stand for

Vision: To create and share extraordinary places on Sydney Harbour and amplify their stories.

Mission: To bring to life our natural and cultural heritage and provide a lasting legacy for all Australians through conservation, remediation and the adaptive reuse of places in our care.

Values: Open, Accountable, Collaborative, Entrepreneurial, Creative and Integrity.

Objectives: Our objectives, as outlined in the SHFT Act, are to :

  • Ensure that management of Harbour Trust land contributes to enhancing the amenity of the Sydney Harbour region.
  • Protect, conserve, and interpret the environmental and heritage values of Harbour Trust land.
  • Maximise public access to Harbour Trust land.
  • Establish and manage suitable Harbour Trust land as a park on behalf of the Commonwealth as the national government.
  • Co-operate with other Commonwealth bodies that have a connection with any Harbour land in managing that land.
  • Co-operate with NSW, affected councils and the community in furthering the above objects.

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