13/04/2004 - 22:00

Land issue becoming a crisis

13/04/2004 - 22:00

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THE issue of land is at crisis point in Broome. Apart from the Broome International Airport site, land in Broome is crown land and is subject to Native Title.

Land issue becoming a crisis

THE issue of land is at crisis point in Broome.

Apart from the Broome International Airport site, land in Broome is crown land and is subject to Native Title.

A plan to move the Broome International Airport out of town in order to free-up land for residential use has been on hold for almost ten years while Native Title discussions take place on the new site between the Western Australian Government and the Rubibi community.

In its recent Broome: Country Land Development Program report the Western Australian Planning Commission established that finding more land for residential and commercial development was critical.

“Broome is facing a critical shortage of land for commercial, industrial and residential purposes,” the report says.

“The resolution of Native Title is the most important issue currently facing land development in Broome.”

The report says that by 2006 Broome will require an additional 1,400 to 2,100 new dwellings to meet demand.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Government was making good progress and all Native Title negotiations for Broome would be finalised by the end of this year.

However, the Broome International Airport Group recently spent $7 million on capital works and, according to BIA Group CEO Kim Maisey, the airport would not relocate for at least 15 years.

He said the deal to move the airport was progressing well until 2001 when, with the change in Government, the process became drawn out.

Mr Maisey said the Government decided to look at all the issues of Native Title for Broome as one rather than pushing through the airport site as an individual case.

“With no timetable for this to be resolved we elected to improve and extend our runway and we’ve just finished building a new terminal facility,” Mr Maisey said.

He said the BIA Group had spent a considerable amount of money in assessing two proposed sites for the airport to relocate.

“We got all the approvals in place, what we didn’t have was free title or title to the land and we were relying on the State Government for that,” Mr Maisey said.

“It  [the Government] began compulsory acquisition but with a change of Government they pulled the process.

“They said they wanted to resolve the Broome land issues under a collective framework.

“We were disappointed but it still hasn’t got anywhere.

“We held off doing any work on the airport because we were intending to move. Even if the Government finds land now we’re not intending to move until we realise the capital investment.”

Ms MacTiernan said the Government’s decision to revise the Broome International Airport process was based on perceived belief that it would negatively impact on other Native Title discussions taking place for the region.

“The discussions were at such a level of dysfunction that it was going to legal action,” she said.

“We were told that if it went to court then there would be a break down in negotiations to a whole range of issues in Broome. BIA Group and I came to an agreement that they didn’t need to move at the time and they gave us time to have a broader framework in place.”

Ms MacTiernan said a conclusion on some Native Title issues would be reached in the coming months.

“After that, by the end of the year, we will have all of the Native Title issues resolved and that will see more land being released.”

Ms MacTiernan said that would create 350 lots for residential development.

BIA Group has developed the residential area Roebuck Estate on its land. Six hundred lots have been sold and another 500 lots are still to be released.

Together with the Government’s proposed 350 lots Ms MacTiernan said the land crisis should dissipate in the short term.

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