Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I thank the Leader for the briefings. As always, they were informative and cleared up many of my questions.
This bill tidies up the act - which is around 25 years old - by amending eight principal sections, including consequential amendments to address drafting errors, legal doubts and administration efficiencies, and bringing the legislation in line with current practice by correcting issues relating to administering the act as it stood.
We know there are many reasons for compulsory acquisitions of land. Most of the ones I was involved with were to do with highway widening and new highways. I also note the red tape cutting and that the acquiring authority can now proceed with the acquisition if the land being acquired is less than the area and the notice to treat. This will remove the need to recommence the acquisition process. This is a time- and money-saving exercise; obviously, if the land being acquired were more than the notice to treat, the acquisition process would need recommence.
I am pleased to see in the bill the need to remediate a property should there be damage caused by soil samples, pit digging and so on. It is important the land is put back to right. As the member for Hobart - and I agree - if holes are dug on a farm, an animal could break a leg. Some of those animals, especially bulls, are quite expensive. It could be a costly exercise.
Mr Valentine - Might be a tractor that goes in instead if the hole was big
Ms ARMITAGE - That is true. If it is a tractor, the consequences could be quite nasty because someone could be thrown off a tractor.
Clause 18 of the bill also clarifies powers of entry and examination with a proposed mendment to section 54, I am particularly pleased see proposed subsections 4(3A)(a) -
(a) activities on the land taken by the person are in accordance with
contemporary best practice in relation to reducing the spread of pests and
This is particularly relevant to our biosecurity and properties that may be growing produce or fruit such as blueberries. Having had the inquiry on blueberry rust and similar things a couple of years ago, we know many people do not think about the many things you need to do before you go onto a property and that you can transfer diseases or pests. It is important to have that particular clause in the bill. The following proposed subsections are also listed -
(b) so far as is reasonably practicable, activities on the land taken by the person do not conflict with the interests of the owner or occupier of the land; and
(c) any damage to the land caused by the person is remediated.
Another welcome change is the time allowed under the act to seek compensation for compulsorily acquired land, which has changed from two to six months. I am pleased to note from briefings that extensions of time are regularly granted if sought. I seek reassurance from the Leader that this will still be the case with these changes, although they will not be needed as often.
Sometimes a road can dissect a property. There can be differences of opinion on what can be done with the land that has been left. I can think of occasions where a road has gone through a farm and it has been the opinion of the government that the section of land leftover would be suitable for housing and still has a great deal of value, whereas the owner of the property might differ in their opinion - they might feel they have more knowledge of the land and that it might not be good for housing
and might not have the value attributed to it by the department.
I am pleased to see the extension of time. Sometimes these things can take a long time even to get ready to take to appeal. If your land is compulsorily acquired - and I have been involved in a couple of these - it is important you are adequately compensated. I appreciate the difference of opinion. Not reflecting on the particular properties, but I was involved in one where I recall the difference being that the property owner felt that the value was a certain amount of money, but the department felt the amount of remediation work done, with other structures put in place and certain bridgeworks and underpasses put in, compensated for the land. s far as the owner of the land was concerned, the work put in should not have devalued the cost of the land. That was levelled against it.
We have a lot of instances in which the owner of the land does not have a choice and it is compulsorily acquired. I believe it is very important that they have the opportunity to appeal, to go to court if necessary, and make sure that the value of their land, what it is worth to them, is provided. That is the important part - what someone else thinks land is worth might not be the same as what the landowner thinks it is worth to them. I am pleased to see the changes there. I certainly support the intent of the bill.