Monday, February 13, 2012

Malabar police station named Aboriginal land in LEC

Vanessa Watson | The Southern Courier | 27 January 2012

The former Malabar Police Station at 1234 Anzac Pde is now Aboriginal land after the Land and Environment Court upheld the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council. Photo: Alex Wisser.

MALABAR Police Station is now Aboriginal land and police must vacate within 60 days after the Land and Environment Court upheld an appeal against an earlier decision to knock back a land claim on the site by the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Following Justice T.W. Sheahan’s decision in the Land and Environment Court, the former Malabar police station at 1234 Azac Pde is now “claimable Crown land” under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1983.

La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Chris Ingrey told the Courier the building’s future use would be determined by the council’s board and members.

“Some of the board members that I’ve been in contact with are quite excited about the outcome,” Mr Ingrey said.

“This legislation is the only form of compensation for the dispossession of land.”

Former police minister, Maroubra MP Michael Daley, called on Premier Barry O’Farrell to appeal the court’s decision and to “honour the Liberal Party’s commitment to a continuing police station at Malabar”.

“In the state election in March last year, the Liberal candidate for Maroubra promised that a Liberal Government would open a fully functioning police station at Malabar,” Mr Daley said.

Mr Daley said he was “very disappointed” by the decision and that the court had “rejected evidence from local police that police were still using the station”.

“That’s why, as police minister, I spent $300,000 upgrading the station, so it could continue to be used by police in our local area.”

Eastern Beaches Police commander Superintendent Gavin Dengate, who provided evidence during the proceedings, said the decision meant the local area command could have a reduced capacity for conducting operations.

“From a local area command perspective, having a reduced capacity to conduct operations is disappointing,” Supt Dengate said.

“It certainly doesn’t mean the La Perouse Aboriginal Land Council can’t do something in support of local police.”

During the proceedings, the court rejected the police minister’s earlier refusal against the land claim on the grounds the building was “lawfully used and occupied” for the purposes of policing.

Under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, Aboriginal land councils in NSW are able to claim unused Crown land on behalf of their members as compensation for their historical dispossession.

Under the Act, “claimable Crown lands” can mean land not lawfully used or occupied, or lands that are not needed, nor likely to be needed, for an essential public purpose.

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