Mosman Council has voted to fight against an Aboriginal Land Claim at Balmoral worth up to $100 million.
The 2,692 sqm parcel of land is within Lawry Plunkett Reserve, a popular recreational space with open parkland and a walking track, located directly behind the iconic beach.
Mosman residents only learned of the claim, which was lodged in 2009, on Tuesday.
Despite an initial decision to keep details of the claim under wraps, Council reneged late on Tuesday and released the confidential documents last night to the general public, taking several submissions from residents.
After a lengthy debate, it was unanimously decided to oppose the land grab.
It’s believed the NSW Aboriginal Land Council lodged the claim on the beachfront land on 12 March 2009.
Mosman Council has voted unanimously to fight the land claim.
Resident Yolande Stone described the move by the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council as unjustified and said locals had been tending Lawry Plunkett Reserve since the 1980s.
“I’m now sorry we cleaned up all around that historic rock, and it would have been better to have the .. area covered in weeds, and they couldn’t have seen it so easily,” she said during Tuesday’s meeting.
“[The area] is very actively used by kids, by people walking, by people sitting on the bench having family consultations, and that’s both the lower area and up higher.
Lawry Plunkett Reserve is located behind The Esplanade at Balmoral. Image: Google.
Local Lynette Elsegood, a former Councillor, also addressed Council chambers and told those assembled the case was “outrageous” and could be “a sign of things to come.”
“It’s quite staggering when you read [the document] that no information is available providing details of the claim, the purpose of the claim – and if successful, there’s no obligation upon the claimant to do so.”
Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Nathan Moran.
Sydney’s Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Nathan Moran revealed to 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Wednesday morning there are almost 3,000 Native Titles claims for land in Sydney yet to be assessed, and for NSW, the total is a staggering 40,000.
He also said he found it “hard to believe” Mosman Council had no record of the land claim made 14 years ago.
“I am a bit bewildered by that statement that they didn’t know about it,’ he told Fordham.
Councillor Roy Bendall describes the Balmoral land claim as “astounding”.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, Mosman Councillor Roy Bendall said he found the claim for the prime parcel of local land “astounding”.
“We’ve been maintaining it for 100 years; we’ve got bush care groups who volunteer there,” he said.
“Just at our expenditure alone on maintaining that site for the last hundred years – it [Lawry Plunkett Reserve] should come to Council, and it should be in the public domain.
“Our concern is defending this public land on behalf of our residents.”