On 27 January 2012 Justice Sheahan of the Land and Environment Court handed down a decision allowing an appeal by La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council against the Minister’s refusal of its claim over Malabar Police Station.
Malabar Police Station had controversially been closed down by the previous government to be sold.
After this closure, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council placed a claim over the land. The Minister refused this claim on the basis that the land was used and occupied by the police force.
La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council then placed a further claim over the same land. The Minister also refused this claim on the ground that the land was being used and occupied by the police force. This Land Council then appealed the Minister’s refusal to the Land and Environment Court.
Before the Court the Minister argued that the land and the buildings on it had been reoccupied by the police force and that it was, therefore, used and occupied at the date the claim was lodged. Justice Sheahan found that the activity of the police force on the claimed land was not enough for him to hold that it was used or occupied at that time.
The decision of the Court in this case should be of assistance to other Aboriginal land councils involved in claims where there are buildings involved. Justice Sheahan’s decision also confirms existing law on Aboriginal land claims over buildings.
A copy of this decision can be viewed at http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/landenv/index.html.
Uploaded: Wednesday, 15 February 2012.