Completion of the Cultana project

This year saw the completion of 9 years' work on a major matter for the Department of Defence. Since 2005, AGS has assisted Defence to obtain an area of land between Port Augusta and Whyalla in South Australia – the Cultana Expansion Area (CEA) – to expand the current Cultana Training Area from approximately 502 to 2,090 square kilometres.

In accordance with the strategy agreed by Government for the acquisition of the CEA, years of complex negotiations brought about the following sequence of events:

  • The relevant parts of 6 pastoral leases that comprise the CEA were acquired in 2012 in accordance with the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 (LAA).
  • An Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the State of South Australia and the registered native title claimants for the CEA was registered on 28 June 2013 to ensure the validity of the acquisition of the CEA in accordance with the Native Title Act 1993. To meet the requirements for registration, the ILUA was authorised by 3 other Indigenous groups in addition to the registered native title claimants.
  • The parts of the 6 pastoral leases that comprise the CEA were surrendered to the State of South Australia in June 2014.
  • The CEA was successfully acquired on registration of a lease granted to Defence by the State of South Australia over part of the area covered by the 6 pastoral leases for a 75-year term with an option to extend for a further 25 years, commencing on 20 June 2014.

Alexandra Hall (Senior Lawyer) and Leah Lyons (Counsel) played key roles in helping to manage the matter for Defence, with assistance from many AGS lawyers including Andrew Chapman (Counsel), Helen Curtis (Senior Executive Lawyer), Justin Davidson (Senior Executive Lawyer), Ros Kenway (Senior General Counsel), Marilyn Leverink (Senior Legal Assistant), Andrew Miles (Senior Executive Lawyer), Robert Orr PSM QC (then Chief General Counsel), Phil Sedgley-Perryman (Senior Lawyer), Greg Prutej (Senior General Counsel) and Leah West (Senior Lawyer).

AGS advised on and implemented the strategy to acquire the CEA, including negotiating with the State of South Australia and the 4 Indigenous groups on the ILUA and its authorisation, the 4 pastoral lessees and their solicitors on the acquisition of their pastoral leases, the State of South Australia for a Miscellaneous Lease for Defence Purposes, and the State of South Australia and other holders of infrastructure interests over the CEA. The matter involved many complex legal issues, in particular complex land acquisition and native title issues.

This is an extract from the 2013–14 AGS annual report