Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you for your answer. A few weeks ago, the minister for Parks announced a plan to divest, sell, what she described as 'excess' Crown lands. Michael Mansell responded very reasonably with, why don't you return those lands to Aboriginal Tasmanians? I know you are reviewing the model for land returns, and note that no land has gone back to Aboriginal people since 2005. Have you had any discussions with the minister responsible for Crown lands about engagement with the Aboriginal community about the return of some of these Crown lands?
Mr JAENSCH - I am advised that the parcels of land that are part of this process - the categories of excess Crown land you referred to - are assessed for their natural and cultural values, mineral interests and planning suitability prior to being progressed for sale. This includes Aboriginal heritage property searches, and referral to Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania if required, consistent with obligations under the act.
I am also advised that the sale of Crown land in this initiative is focused on isolated parcels that often occur within towns and residential settlements as infill blocks of land that are deemed suitable for sale. Any parcels of land that are deemed to be likely to have cultural values, or that may be suitable for land return, won't be included in the sale program, to the extent that they can be identified.
This is a tidying up of annoying little blocks of land that somebody might be interested in adhering to their property, and that somebody else is sick of mowing. They are less likely to be large areas of land with their natural values intact, of the type we might expect to see nominated for land return through a process, if there was one, which there isn't.
That goes to the issue of what we were told through the consultation on land return - that we need some criteria for nomination of land that helps make it sensible to the broader public whose land we may return, as to why this is significant and suitable to become Aboriginal land.