National Land – Australian Capital Territory

Prior to self-government in 1989, the Commonwealth managed all land in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

The system of land management in the ACT is established under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (the PALM Act), which specifies that the Commonwealth is responsible for National Land and the ACT Government is responsible for Territory Land. National Land is land within the ACT that the Commonwealth continues to manage following the establishment of self-government in 1989.

The National Capital Authority, on behalf of the Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, administers National Land that is required for the special purposes of Canberra as the National Capital (e.g. diplomatic land).

The Minister for Finance (the Minister) is responsible for the management of National Land where the land is required for Commonwealth purposes other than for the special purposes of Canberra as the National Capital.

Administration of National Land is in accordance with the Australian Capital Territory National Land (Leased) Ordinance 2022 (Leased Land Ordinance) and the Australian Capital Territory National Land (Unleased) Ordinance 2022(Unleased Land Ordinance). The Leased Land Ordinance provides for the grant and administration of leases over National Land and the Unleased Land Ordinance provides for the use of unleased National Land that is open to the public, such as road and parks, as well as unleased land used and occupied by the Commonwealth for Commonwealth purposes.

The Department of Finance (Finance) supports the Minister’s legislated responsibilities under the Leased Land Ordinance and the Unleased Land Ordinance. Finance’s role in administering National Land includes the issuing and administration of Crown leases.

To vary a National Land Crown lease means to add, remove or change one or more of its provisions and includes consolidation or subdivision. The meaning of ‘variation’ in relation to a lease of National Land is found at section 16 of the Leased Land Ordinance.

All variations are contingent on the:

  • proposal not being inconsistent with the requirements of the National Capital Plan and where applicable the Development Control Plan;
  • approval of the Minister; and
  • payment of a lease variation charge, if applicable.

For further information or questions on National Land and the lease variation process, please contact Finance via

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