Olofsson v Minister for Primary Industries & Ors
EDO NSW undertook to support Mrs Olofsson, the secretary of the Camberwell Common Trust, which has held the Camberwell Common on trust for use by the commoners in Camberwell Village since 1876. Mrs Olofsson challenged decisions of the (then) Minister for Lands to revoke the Camberwell Common, reserve it as a Crown reserve, and grant a licence to Ashton Coal to facilitate its plans for an open cut coal mine over the Common. She also sought an order from the Court that the Trust be classified as a ‘landholder’ under the Mining Act 1992 (NSW) and served with notice of a mining lease application. Such notification gives landholders the right to object to mining leases under certain circumstances.
The Court found that the setting aside the land as a common in this case could be automatically revoked under the Crown Lands Act 1989 (NSW). As a result, the Court found that the revocation and subsequent reservation of the Common was valid, and that therefore so too was the licence issued to Ashton Coal. The Court made no finding on whether the Trust was a landholder under the Mining Act as once a common is revoked the Trust that manages the common is automatically dissolved.
An important element of this case was that the Court made a maximum costs order limiting the liability of Mrs Olofsson in the proceedings to $10,000 which allowed Mrs Olofsson to continue with her case. The Court recognised that Mrs Olofsson was bringing the case in the public interest.
EDO NSW is grateful to barristers Reg Graycar and Leigh Sanderson who appeared on behalf of Mrs Olofsson.